Jeannie’s Second Chance

I love my sister. I really do. As siblings, we were childhood playmates and tattle tales.  As teenagers, we were each other’s confidants and rivals. We have an unspoken bond that says no matter how stupid the idea, no matter how many times we try the same thing to the same disastrous end, we will defend to our last breath the right of each other to give something ridiculous one more shot.

Thus, Thanksgiving at the Walters is being brought to us by Jeannie, my sister, nature’s enemy of all things culinary. She wanted to try just one more time to host Thanksgiving.

I broached the subject with Lex. “Oh, please, sweetheart. I’ll be there to help.”

Lex paced back and forth in the bedroom. I could tell she was trying her level best not to be negative, but she was also aware that as she got closer to being forty years old, her stomach had its own ideas about what she is allowed to put into it. And none of those ideas included poisoning at the hand of her dear sister-in-law.

“One condition. It’s all I ask.”

“Anything.” The way Lex looked so pitifully at me made me cave in immediately. She could ask anything of me. That’s how effective her pout is with me. Fortunately, she saves it for really important things, like when I’m too tired for, well, you know.

“Ask Jeannie to cook the meal here.  We have a much larger kitchen and there are places to put things. We’ve got that huge fridge and you and Jeannie can do the prep work here on Wednesday so she won’t be overwhelmed.”

“That’s really thoughtful of you, love. No wonder I married you.”  I patted the bed next to me, inviting Lex to join me.

I tugged her down beside me and wrapped myself around her.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Lex grinned and could hardly suppress chuckling before letting me in on the joke. “Rodney told me what you were up to, so I’ve already put a fire extinguisher in each lower cabinet, just in case.  And there’s ipecac in each upper cabinet. And there are 2 buckets of sand in the mud room.  And since Rodney will be here, we’ve got medical care covered.”

Later that day, we told the girls that their Aunt Jeannie would be cooking Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Lorrie looked as if she were going to cry.  “Aw, mom. You know Aunt Jeannie can’t cook. She can barely manage peanut butter sandwiches. If it weren’t for microwave ovens, they’d all starve.”

Being the helpful sort, Lex had to go there. “How’d she set fire to the last one, anyway?” Lex pretended to ponder the circumstances of each disaster.  “I remember when she plugged one into a 220 line. Then there was the one that caught on fire cause she put an aluminum pan in it.”

“Mommy, remember the last one? Aunt Jeannie… mmph!” Lex had her hand clamped securely over Lorrie’s mouth. She’d noticed that I was going from chagrined to pissed off in record time.

“If you are all quite done.” I glared at Lex and Lorrie. Melanie had crawled up onto my lap and hugged me.

“I love you, Mommy. Don’t be mad.  Aunt Jeannie can cook here. Maybe our oven won’t lock her food inside.” Then she planted a big kiss on my cheek and gave me another hug. “I like Aunt Jeannie’s baloney sandwiches.”

That was my undoing. I had reversed course and started laughing uncontrollably. I hugged my daughter and gave Lex the “all clear” nod that let them know they’d live to see another day.

We did have turkey on Thanksgiving.  Martha and Charlie brought it up from their cottage and it was wonderful.  Her dressing rocked, too.  I made the mashed potatoes and green beans.  Lorrie made her first pumpkin pie.  As for Jeannie and Lex, we got them to watch a few cooking shows on television and they decided they could handle the job of expediters. And they got to wear the “Kiss the cook” aprons as they nibbled on everything to make sure it all tasted good.

Rodney was just thrilled that he could watch football with Charlie and not have to use his medical skills for at least one meal. Another disaster averted!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Walters gang.

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