Holiday Gatherings and the New World Order

The following is an accurate account of events which occurred on the afternoon of this past Labor Day, further infused with repressed emotions and residual unspoken thoughts from previous holiday gatherings, the content of which will remain unsaid to those involved so long as I am never in their presence while filled with any sort inebriating beverage.

This retelling may also be facetious.

Holiday and post-funeral meals with my family are always highly-structured affairs. We behave ourselves according to a set of unspoken rules, which we all seem to know, though no one you’d ask recalls exactly when any of us learned them. One such rule is that, when it is finally time to eat, women are always served first. The exception is that the women who spent the day preparing dinner never eat first, because eating seems to be the last thing they want to do after being in the kitchen for so long. They also wait until enough of us have eaten and approved of things before they take their turns, as if knowing everything about how the food was made isn’t quite enough to know whether it’s worth eating. Personally, I will eat anything I helped make. I know what’s in it; I know it’s delicious. I need no approval.

(Apparently, this view isn’t to be stated aloud. The last time I said this, I was promptly tossed out on my ear for my naive display of culinary ignorance).

But a second rule–just as long-standing and undisputed–is that no one may eat seconds until everyone else has eaten firsts. That’s wonderful for the slow-eater, who sees family get-togethers as mere social events, where we all catch up on what’s going on with everyone else, including

“Hey, M, what do you do for a living, again? Yeah? You went to school for that, right? Did you get the birthday card I sent? What? Naw, I swear I sent it, man. Your birthday’s in October, right? December? Oh! Next time, brother!”

This is worth avoiding (I hate when my great-uncle calls me ‘brother.’ He’s the one with brothers). Until I discover how, I’d sure like to have another roll, please, or more barbecue without waiting for everyone who eats less than I do (read: everyone), to eat their little bit without wanting more. Besides, the rolls are still warm, and conserving energy requires not waiting for them to get cold which would force me to reheat just one. I’m doing the earth a favor, here. Save the (whatever endangered something-or-other we’re told needs saving). I’m disappointed that my family would so harm the environment with their old-school, holiday dinner norms, just because some of us (again, me) are still growing. It’s wrong.

When I begin my reign as the patriarch (I’m the only family member my age who knows exactly how everyone is related to everyone else),  I will end this. I will ceremoniously and undemocratically install a less oppressive regime, whereby anyone who’s ready to eat a second time–so long as all have been served–may do so. I will have no problem making the potentially divisive executive decision to management holiday food rations for the benefit of my family and the earth (in order of importance).

Am I not reasonable?


15 Responses to “Holiday Gatherings and the New World Order”
  1. Janet the Great says:

    Matt, I sure wish you could come to Turkey Day at our house! 🙂 you can eat all you want! Just don’t trust my pops, he tends to get folks to try is ‘coon’ lol

    • beginswithm says:

      You wish, huh? Why is that? What exactly do you want? No foods for you, when I’m around. I’m nice and accommodating until plate three; then everyone’s on his or her own. You know me.

  2. I think you’re totally reasonable….in my dads family a new relative asked upon watching everyone get up and clean after a function: “How do we get assigned jobs?” to my mom. Who looked at the person weirdly and said: “We’re not assigned jobs, we just know what to do…” in retrospect-the jobs are assigned by age. The older you get the better ones you get. I’m still waiting to get off drying dishes duty though…

  3. Noelle Nichols says:

    I think your family is involved in some kind of voodoo witchcraft cult that causes them to believe this behavior is acceptable. You know…everyone drinks the Kool-Aid all gone before anyone gets seconds…If I were you, I’d spend all upcoming holidays with me. I don’t practice such ridiculous rituals nor do I have a voodoo doll of you hidden in my closet (check your mom’s shoes).

  4. Rachel says:

    You’re gonna have some chunky kids. Weight watchers ahoy! 😀

    But in all seriousness, I like this post. Invite me to your next family get-together as a long-lost cousin, and make sure they have veggie meat. You know I don’t do soul food. 😉

  5. you mean to tell me that you have to wait until everyone is DONE with their first serving before anyone can get seconds? eeeeeeek

  6. B. says:

    That does seem like a ridiculous rule! What would happen if you totally rebelled and got up while everyone was still eating and helped yourself to a second plate? I mean, what would they do? You’re a grown man…

    (of course I’d fear the “look” from my mother if I even thought of breaking a rule in her house…but we’re talking about you here)

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