"The Thanksgiving Dinner"

Erick walks into his father’s house after having just been picked up from the airport. When his parents divorced, they sold the house where Erick grew up. His father moved into a two-bedroom apartment a few towns over while his mother moved in with her mother in California – an hour north of Erick.

Erick looks around at the artwork and old family photos on the walls. “A woman’s touch has been applied to this apartment,” he comments.

Erick’s father laughs. “Carline got tired of it looking like a bachelor pad.”

“Does she live here now?”

“No.”

“I wouldn’t care if she did. If you want to live in sin, that’s fine with me,” Erick teases.

Erick’s father playfully pops Erick on the head as he heads to his bedroom. “Carline set up the spare room up for you.”

Erick takes his carry-on bags to the spare bedroom. Erick could tell that the floors had been vacuumed, the furniture dusted and the excess clutter removed – most likely to the closet. Erick sits down on the bed. He pulls back the comforter, lifts up the pillows, leans down and sniffs the mattress. “I guess he doesn’t use Tide anymore,” Erick says to himself.

Carline walks into the apartment and sees Erick as she walks past the spare bedroom. “I’m so glad you could make it out this year,” she says as she approaches the room.

Erick stands up to give her a hug. “I am too, blushing bride.”

“Oh, he told you? I thought he was going to wait until tomorrow.”

“I guess he decided to test the waters with me before telling Brent.”

“And how are those waters?”

“For me, pacifical. For him, more atlantical and potentially hurricaneal.”

**************************

Erick is in the kitchen the next day helping Carline prepare dinner. When Erick hears his brother Brent arrive with his wife and two sons, he wipes his hands on a nearby dish towel, glances over at Carline and walks into the kitchen to greet them.

“Oh, it’s you again. I feel like I just saw you last month,” Erick teases.

“I agree. This is overkill. I get Erick Overload from just once-a-year visits,” Brent retorts as he and Erick embrace.

“Hey Janette,” Erick says as he gives his sister-in-law a hug. He then looks over at his five-year-old nephew Allen. “Get over here.”

Allen smiles and runs into Erick’s arms. “Where’s grandpa?” Allen asks.

Erick puts Allen down and looks at Brent. “I’m glad you made a spare,” Erick says as he picks up his two-year-old nephew Stephan and gives him a hug.

Carline comes out of the kitchen. “Happy Thanksgiving y’all,” she says as she gives hugs to Brent, Janette, Allen and Stephan.

“Where’s grandpa?” Allen asks Carline as he takes off his coat and hands it to Janette.

“At least he’s consistent,” Erick says to Brent.

“Grandpa went to get Aunt Rita and Great-grandpa Henry so he could bring them over here to see you and Stephan,” Carline explains to Allen.

“Looks like we’re old news,” Brent says to Erick.

“Only since the ‘80s,” Erick replies.

“I made some cookies for the boys. Can they have a one before dinner?” Carline asks Janette.

“Sure,” Janette answers as she takes off Stephan’s coat. “Hey boys, Miss Carline has a cookie for each of you in the kitchen,” she says.

“Miss Carline?” Erick chides.

“I have no idea what to call her,” Janette says.

“You will soon…very soon,” Erick hints.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Brent asks suspiciously.

*********************************

Erick and Brent are watching television with Allen and Stephan. “Remember when we used to fight over the TV?” Brent asks Erick.

“I was the older brother so you really should have just let me watch I Love Lucy instead of changing the channel to Batman and causing that dent in a load-bearing wall.”

“You jumped on my back trying to grab the remote.”

“Still doesn’t trump ‘older brother’.”

Brent ponders this for a moment. “I gave our parents grandchildren.”

“I wouldn’t brag about riddling the world with more Davidsons,” Erick responds.

Erick and Brent’s father walks through the door with their Grandpa Henry and Great Aunt Rita in tow. Erick gets up to greet them as they take their coats off.

Erick and Grandpa Henry embrace. “You’re filling out there, aren’t you?” he asks.

“It’s the shirt,” Erick replies.

“Well, your shirt is growing a belly,” Grandpa Henry remarks.

Erick glares at his grandfather for a moment before turning his attention to Aunt Rita – who’s turning 91 in January. “Hey old lady, how are you feeling?” he asks as he gives her a hug and a kiss.

“I’m doin’ fine,” Aunt Rita answers as she throws up her dukes and starts swinging.

Erick dodges a few but Aunt Rita lands one on his upper arm. “I will fight an old woman,” he teases.

“I’ll crack you in your skull,” she teases back.

“Such violence,” Erick’s father observes as he shakes his head and hangs up the coats.

Erick puts his arm around Aunt Rita. “This is how she and I fight the system. This is how we fight the power. It’s an Occupy thing you wouldn’t understand,” he says to his father.

Erick’s father snickers and walks over to greet Brent and his grandsons as Allen runs toward him. Erick escorts his grandfather and Aunt Rita to the couch. Brent gets up with Stephan in his arms and sits in a nearby chair to make room.

Erick’s father observes the scene for a moment. “This is nice. This is very nice,” he says to himself.

**************************************** 

“I have an announcement to make,” Erick’s father says as everyone at the dinner table is finishing up their first servings of the Carline-prepared Thanksgiving dinner. Carline is sitting next to Erick’s father. He takes her by the hand. “Carline and I have been dating for a couple of years. She’s made me very happy and we are getting married.”

“Is she pregnant?” Erick’s grandfather asks.

Erick’s father laughs. “No.”

“Good, you’re too old for that shit anyway.”

“Thanks Dad,” Erick’s father replies.

“Congratulations, Derrick.” Janette says.

“Thank you, Janette,” Erick’s father replies as he looks at Brent for a reaction. “Brent?”

“Yes?”

“You okay with this?”

“Yeah, I already knew.”

“You did?” he asks looking at Erick. “Did you tell him?”

Erick stares wide-eyed at his father. “No…well, yes. But not really.”

“Then how does he know? Outside of Carline, you’re the only other one I told.”

“Janette mentioned that she didn’t really know what to call Carline. I said, ‘you will soon enough’. Then Brent asked me but I didn’t respond. Then he started to guess, but he was so far off the mark that I felt sorry for him and just went ahead and told him. Besides, you were worried about his reaction so I figured it would be best that he be prepared for the news ahead of time….you’re welcome.”

Erick’s father shakes his head. “Well, Brent?” he asks.

“It’s going to be weird but if you’re happy…great.”

Erick turns to Janette. “Now you can upgrade her from ‘Miss Carline’ to “Mom: The Spinoff”.