Morro Bay is located on the Central Coast, mid-point for family members living in Southern and Northern California. Being that I live in Morro Bay, I agreed to host Thanksgiving this year.
Setting. My rental house is too small to host 30+ guests so the event would have to be outside. I purchased outdoor furniture, a fire pit, and plants (poor things). I rented tables, chairs, and heaters, and stumbled through a DIY project hanging outdoor lights. In the event of rain, I painted the garage. One thing about having guests – things get done. I’ve been here two years and could have been enjoying some of these extras. However, I tend to harbor sensations that I might move on a whim, therefore shun being burdened with more Stuff. After experiencing three natural disasters, and unexpected deaths, I tend to live in the…temporary.
Food. I couldn’t foresee carving a big ol’ turkey, so I ordered a Louisiana Turducken. No bones. And a Honey-Baked ham. No cook. And smaller-sized Honey-Baked brand smoked and oven-roasted turkeys. The oven-roasted turkey arrived late and thawed; in fear of anyone getting sick, I tossed it. Better to have too much food than not enough, so I’d create a ‘champagne station’ serving bubbly, shrimp cocktail and caviar pie. For a local touch, I’d hire an oyster shucker. The oysters farmed in Morro Bay are fresh and incredibly delicious.
The coup de grace would be the Louisiana alligator.
The day arrived and greeted us with sunshine and unusually high temperatures. The sun was quickly melting ice and not that great for the out of doors spread…yet, the shrimp and caviar pie was being gobbled up. The oysters were a slurpy hit. And after their initial stupefaction, many pulled a sample from my first (and last) grilled gator tail. Everyone was having a gay old time!
In keeping with tradition, before dinner we gather together to form “The Circle”. Holding hands and in turn, each says what they’re thankful for which always brings tears, laughter, and connection. It’s the only time we zip our mouths long enough to listen to what the other has to say. As host, I began by referring to everyone as co-hosts and thanked them for helping me pull this off. Jokingly I added, “Well, we haven’t eaten yet; food poisoning isn’t out of the question.”
The first casualty was my eldest brother. About 7 p.m. he voiced that he didn’t feel good and had to lay down. An hour later he’s ‘projectiling’ in my front yard. On Friday morning, I’m informed that my sweet 16-year old niece (I coerced her into trying her first oyster) kept her family awake by ralphing all night in the hotel room. By Friday afternoon, I heard that a niece-in-law had tossed her cookies while strolling Santa Barbara. Saturday morning, while brothers were watching the Ohio State Michigan game somewhere, I was watching The Toilet Bowl. Sunday’s word was that two nephew-in-laws had spewed forth.
My Circle joke was unfortunately foreshadowing.
The Cases of Thanksgiving Food Poisoning were a puzzlement and certainly a case for Inspector Clouseau. The oysters received more blame than the alligator but we couldn’t figure it out, there didn’t seem to be a common denominator. It could have been any number of things including a 24-hour bug. Fortunately it was short-lived; all are well.
Astonishingly, folks suggested the holiday be held in Morro Bay next year.
I’ve said no, but I may have to move.
“You see it’s in the blood
Blood’s thicker than the mud
It’s a family affair.”
– Sly and the Family Stone