Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving or how I had dinner with a guy in a skirt

The best way I can describe my extended family is that they are a piece of work. I can’t say that we’re dysfunctional in a way that people traditionally mean it: nobody *openly* despises anyone else, they’ve never gotten into fistfights or had the cops called on them, and they aren’t even mean to each other. The dysfunction is much more subtle, a disconnect between what our family is like and what they believe or pretend we’re like. I’ll probably explore this more in the future, but for today we’ll leave it at this: It’s a very odd family.

To give a little background to this post, I have to explain that my parents live full-time in another state because of my dad’s job, but they keep a house on a lake near where I live and grew up.  Most of the family is still down here, living near the lake, but we don’t see each other much unless my parents are in town.  When they are, we all congregate at the lake house.

Before I get into the story of Thanksgiving, let me introduce you to the cast of characters:

  • Mom: ’nuff said
  • Dad: ’nuff said
  • Sister: Older than me, we’ll call her “Queen”
  • Brother-in-law: Married to sister, call him “Bama”
  • 6-year-old nephew: First son of Queen and Bama, call him “Ninja”
  • 3-year-old nephew: Youngest son of Queen and Bama, call him “Han Solo”
  • Grandmother: My paternal grandmother. Call her “Grandma Wino”
  • Eldest aunt:  My dad’s older sister, early 60s. Call her “June Cleaver.”
  • Uncle: Married to June Cleaver, early 60s. Call him “Blues.”
  • Eldest Cousin: Son to June Cleaver and Blues, late 30s. Call him “Paulinator”
  • Cousin-in-law: Paulinator’s wife, late 30s.  Call her “Mirror”
  • Female Cousin 1: Daughter to June Cleaver and Uncle, mid-30s. Call her “Hester P.”
  • Youngest aunt: My dad’s younger sister, mid-50s. Call her “Big Boobs McGee,” or “BBM” for short.
  • Female Cousin 2: BBM’s daughter, early 20s. Call her “Blondie.”
  • Step Cousin: My dad’s older step brother’s (now passed) son who I have seen maybe 3 times in my life, early 20s. We’ll call him “Kilt Man.” You’ll see why.
  • Great uncle: Grandma Wino’s brother. Call him “Klaus.”
  • Great aunt: Klaus’s wife. Call her “Mouse.”
  • Sister-in-law: My husband’s older sister. Call her “Mama Liga”

So, along with me and my husband, that’s who came to Thanksgiving.

The annoying fun thing about my family is that when my parents host family get-togethers, they are literally hosting. As in, providing all the food, drinks, and alcohol. Since I’ve become a working adult I’ve tried to help out as much as I can, and my sister does too, but the brunt of the get-togethers fall to my parents.

Husband, Mama Liga, and I spent the night at my parent’s house Wednesday night and got up early Thanksgiving morning to help in the preparations.  In the grand tradition of me, alcohol was well provided for in the form of mimosas. We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, had several mimosas, and cooked my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner: broccoli casserole, macaroni and cheese, and pumpkin pie.
A good time was had by all.

The rest of the family, minus Klaus and Mouse, arrived at about 1:00pm. BBM had her cleavage on display, Grandma Wino walked in saying “What?,” and Blues was wearing his ever-present Indiana Jones hat (he had actually just had a *minor* brain surgery the day before and he said it was to cover the big lump of gauze on his head, but let’s face it, he wore it all the time before surgery, so I’m not buying the excuse). Everything was par for the course.

My mom, God love her, did try to actually get the other families to contribute this year and asked them to bring some appetizers and side dishes. Between my grandmother, June Cleaver’s family, and BBM’s family (which represents, remember, 8 of the 18 people present), this is what they contrived to bring: olives, pickles, canned green beans, and canned corn.

The family immediately headed to the star of the day: my dad’s wine collection. Within the first 20 minutes of them arriving we went through a bottle of white wine and a bottle of red wine. As I was getting ready to go get my own glass, in walked Kilt Man. Why did I nickname him Kilt Man?  He arrived, no lie, WEARING A KILT.

I have proof:

No, we don’t live in Scotland. No, he’s not Scottish. I know enough about his family history to know he’s very, very Italian. I have no idea what the kilt was about.

Notice the jaunty knee-high socks.

Kilt-Man turned out to be a creeper. He liked to hover over me and all the other women at the party, staring at us.  My husband said at one point he was trying to look down my shirt and Mama Liga caught him trying to look down her shirt. My parents’ living room has two sofas facing each other. I was sitting on one sofa and Kilt-Man sat on the other sofa and very deliberately crossed his legs in that man way where the legs are spread open and one foot rests on the other knee. It wasn’t long after that Kilt-Man told me I looked beautiful today and about 10 minutes later that he asked for my phone number.

Naturally, and unfortunately, having a man in a skirt caused a large portion of the Thanksgiving dinner conversation to feature what, exactly, he was wearing under it. My dad asked him whether he had “drawers” on under his kilt and Kilt-Man answered. Hester P. didn’t hear the answer, turned to someone, and asked “What did he say?” Kilt-Man heard and said, “Would you like to see for yourself?” It was all very disturbing. I had a lot of wine to deal with it.

Speaking of wine, my family can go through some wine, man. Well, they can when they aren’t paying for it. Grandma Wino, in particular, is serious about it. I don’t mean serious as in she knows anything about it, but serious as in she sure does like to drink it. Right before lunch I was walking up to the counter to pour myself a glass, and Grandma Wino sped past me, pushing me out of the way, to finish off the bottle.

I looked at my empty glass, sighed, and just grabbed another bottle to open.

The sight at the end of the night of all the fallen wine bottle soldiers was very sad. I almost had to build a memorial to commemorate the multitudes of bottles that gave their contents for our bearable happy holiday.

Lunch was just ending when Klaus and Mouse showed up. Klaus was wearing a Texas tuxedo, always a fashionable choice for formal and informal events alike. Klaus is someone I only saw a couple of times in my life until last year when he decided for some reason that he quite likes my Dad and now. They. Come. Every. Time. My. Parents. Are. Down.

I’m not a big fan of Klaus or Mouse. He’s actually not really that nice of a man and is fairly unbearable because he thinks everyone loves him. Recently he showed me some really personal financial papers that he wanted (free) legal advice on, which made me very uncomfortable given that what he showed me wasn’t anything I had any business knowing, especially since I don’t practice that area of law. I think he was trying to find an excuse to tell me so I would tell my Dad and Dad would offer them money. I outsmarted them on that, though, ha.

Klaus and Mouse have a habit of coming to the house with small quantities of random food offerings. They’ve brought boxes of raisins, Ziploc bags of popcorn, and a bag of beef jerky before. I guess I shouldn’t judge too harshly, though, since most family members come completely empty handed. They didn’t bring anything for Thanksgiving though.  In fact, they pretty much just showed up, ate, and then announced they had to go.

They had to go back home so they could put up their chickens.

For serious.

Anyway, that was my Thanksgiving. There’s always crazy stuff going on with my family get togethers, but I never foresaw I would ever eat Thanksgiving dinner with a man in a skirt. And don’t give me that lecture about how a kilt is not a skirt. If you’re not Scottish, it’s a skirt.

And, furthermore:

Although I don’t have personal knowledge of what he had under there and really, really don’t want any.

So tell me, what was the weirdest thing that happened at your Thanksgiving?


8 thoughts on “Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving or how I had dinner with a guy in a skirt

  1. Interesting story. I was over at my folks’ house for the holiday. My mom has a dog, a mutt – his mom is (probably) Finnish Spitz, and we guess that his dad was something in the hound family, maybe Great Dane or possibly Weimareiner – he looks like a lanky, over-tall version of a Golden Retriever. Anyway, he’s a gorgeous, sweet dog, a little scatterbrained, maybe a touch of canine ADHD… he loves everybody. Whenever he sees someone standing around, he comes over, rolls onto his back and splays his hind legs, looking up at them with his big goofy eyes – and if he could speak, I’m absolutely certain he would be saying “These are my balls! PLEEEEEEEAAASSEEEE rub my balls! Pleeease???” If you do rub his belly, he’s very gently pushing his foreleg on your arm as if to say “that’s nice.. almost there… just a little lower…”

    Some guys are like that.

    I’m sorry that your “Kilt Man” seems to be one of those guys. I occasionally wear skirts myself – it’s indescribably nice to drive somewhere without having to adjust my pants to stop the inseam from crushing my jewels (imagine replacing your airbag with a mammogram machine that randomly activates itself, reaches out and grabs you while underway..) Skirts are profoundly comfortable for men – which might be why men have worn them in many cultures through the millennia. Cleopatra was attended by men in skirts. The Greeks wore them, as did the Roman army. (In fact, all Romans, in Rome, in what is now Italy, wore skirts (ok, tunics and robes) for ages – in 399 A.D., Emperor Honorius declared that anyone caught wearing pants in Rome would be exiled.) Vikings wore tunics over pants. In many non-Western cultures today, skirts are commonly worn by men. The skirt was the original garment for men (presumably after the loincloth, which was an incomplete skirt..), whether as a separate piece or as part of a tunic. Pants were an innovation developed for colder climates and (as “harem pants”) for female modesty – the designation of pants “for men only” and skirted garments “for women only” was a relatively recent development, under the combined influences of industrialization, Puritan ethical standards, and the popular rejection of aristocracy. Other items now considered exclusively feminine – hose, high heels, wigs, even artificial “beauty marks” (moles) – were features of upper-class menswear well into the 18th century. Very recently, Western society seems to be relaxing its definition of the skirt as a feminine garment – H&M carried a men’s skirt in 2010, Givenchy had them in its 2012 line, and has them again for 2013, a little company in Seattle – utilikilts.com – has been doing a brisk business selling kilts… Kanye West is said to only wear skirts now… G-Dragon, lead singer of the Korean pop music group Big Bang, frequently performs in a skirt. Sean Connery wears a kilt regularly. Hell, there’s a Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man” commercial, called “Sword Fight”, where “The World’s Most Interesting Man” wields a sword and fights off two attackers – while wearing a kilt!

    BUT – as a skirt-wearing man, I recognize that modesty and decorum are more important for men than women. The truth is, when I wear a skirt, I have something underneath that nobody wants to see, nobody wants to reach up and touch, nobody wants to think about… when a woman’s skirt accidentally flies up, revealing her lack of underwear, she experiences a moment of embarrassment while men in the vicinity celebrate. (If men really ruled the world, women’s clothing would be outlawed – if only to reduce the drain on our household incomes..) If the same happened to me, exposing my junk, I would expect to be charged with a crime – and rightly so. Men can wear skirts – but if we want to be accepted, we must do so properly, with respect for the people around us – a man’s skirt is not, never, no way to be used as a replacement for a flasher’s trenchcoat. Your “Kilt Man” hasn’t figured this out.

    OR…. I have to propose an alternate hypothesis here. He has obviously made a decision to incorporate kilts into his wardrobe. His reasons are his own, and there are several legitimate reasons to do so. But, he may be experiencing some internal conflict from his own upbringing in a culture that says that skirts are feminine, and/or some doubt about how others will perceive him – and his “creeper”-ness might have been his attempt to demonstrate his interest in women, to refute assumptions that he has “switched teams”. Psychologically, he is attempting to define his own masculine identity. He is seeking to replace an external locus of control – “masculinity” defined by submission to societal expectations – with an internal locus of control (masculinity defined on his own terms, independent of the expectations of others). Once he establishes in his mind that he can choose to wear whatever he wants to wear, then the choice to wear pants will become HIS choice, instead of his duty… Hope this helps..

    • I am a really laid back person and if he had just shown up in a skirt, while I admit I would have still thought pretty funny because it’s just not something I’m used to, I would have been like “whatever, do what you like.”

      It got ridiculous because he was so ridiculous about it.

      I appreciate the historical nature of men wearing skirts, but it hasn’t been a cultural norm in America, well, ever and a man who wears a skirt outside of a Scottish Festival or Ren Faire is going to have to deal with a few raised eyebrows until it becomes more normal. It doesn’t help when said man treats it as a flasher’s trench coat, as you described.

      But I do appreciate your well thought out analysis. Thank you!

      • Reading back through my last comment, it comes off now as a bit antagonistic toward you. That was never my intention – I just want to clear that up.

        I’m definitely aware of society’s expectations regarding how I dress myself, and I know that for the vast majority of Americans, men aren’t “supposed” to wear skirts – and I can’t deny that part of my motivation to wear them is a deliberate challenge to the social order and society’s habit of segregating -anything- by gender. I believe that as society abandons its practice of judging people for things like adornment (as it has for women who wear pants or have tattoos and body piercings / as it should for men who wear skirts or paint their nails or wear earrings…) as society moves away from superficial prejudices, it will move toward judging people for their character. ALL of my antagonism before, was intended for your “Kilt Man”, because I got a clear sense from your OP that it wasn’t THAT he wore a kilt, but the WAY he wore his kilt, that displayed a serious deficit of character and made you and others there uncomfortable. And, as a skirt man myself, I find his conduct especially offensive because it undermines what I am attempting to promote when I wear skirts – a world where someone’s gender is just a characteristic (like hair color or blood type is) instead of the defining, limiting component of their identity.

        Anyway, I wrote as much as I did, in the hope that if/when you see Kilt Man again, you might be able to talk with him about HOW he wears his kilt, without it sounding like prejudice against him THAT he wears it. (And… offering his number to a married woman, with (or without) her husband present, isn’t OK in any style of dress…) If he thinks you’re objecting to the kilt itself, he won’t hear the point.

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  3. Aside from the controversial man in the skirt. . . . The better question after all that wine and turkey is what is better wine or beer? and what brand/type is the favorite?

    • Well, I’m an equal opportunity alcohol lover and love both wine and beer in different contexts. I like to drink wine with meals. Beer is more of a laying back on a Saturday afternoon or watching football drink for me. Unless I’m having some kind of low down, greasy, yummy food and then beer is the drink of choice.

      For wine, my favorites come from the Michael David wineries. I think everything I’ve had from them is fantastic, but my favorites are Earthquake and Petite Petit.

      As for beer, I really don’t like IPAs or sweet or fruity flavored beers. My favorite session beer is Fat Tire, but I always like to mix it up if I have the opportunity.

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