Norman Rockwell had it all wrong

Published 5:19pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How boring would life be if we actually had Thanksgiving dinners and lunches that looked as if they peeled off a Norman Rockwell painting?

What if we didn’t burn our stuffing until it was dry? What if your creepy uncle never showed up to the dinner and your liberal aunt decided she would just skimp on bringing up the election this year? It would be painfully boring if we could all bake like Martha Stewart, our family acted like The Brady Brunch and we didn’t have football rivalries to tear us apart during the holiday season.

I’ve spent Thanksgiving in the car traveling to see family and eating roadside Wendy’s for the blessed meal. And in college during the Iron Bowl at Alabama — well we weren’t exactly thinking about the pilgrims and giving thanks for things other than Nick Saban.

I think my favorite Thanksgiving meal had to have been at good ol’ Cracker Barrel. Last year after my grandfather passed we all decided it would be too sad to gather around the family table like we had for the past to celebrate Thanksgiving for who knows how many years.

All of the cousins, aunts, uncles, Memaw and even the dog came and stayed in the car. We all piled into the restaurant and nibbled on biscuits and played checkers by the fire, all while wondering why some Cracker Barrel waitresses have more stars on their aprons than others.

There wasn’t a turkey in sight and we absolutely loved it. This was a new tradition; maybe even something we will do this year.

Of course I have fond memories of us cousins gathered around the TV jumping and cheering as N’sync and The Backstreet Boys rolled in front of Macys on a float in the parade. But other memories include my sister and me screaming as one of us pulled the other’s hair and crayons went flying in the car, forcing Dad to pull over on the way to visit family. There was never a dull moment on those road trips when Mom would beg for a pit stop and Dad would keep the air “too cold.”

I sure am thankful for an amazing family — and a not-so-perfect one too. I’m also thankful that those Rockwell pictures are all just a myth and not reality at all. Did Rockwell ever paint a family cleaning a car out on their way to Thanksgiving after the dog got sick on the seat and the kids are crying from the smell? Didn’t think so Rockwell, but nice try. He also never accurately depicted a family reaction to your cousin’s new boyfriend who has tattoos.

I would take college Iron Bowl weekends, hair pulling, aunts with a political agenda, a cousin’s boyfriend with tattoos and dry stuffing over that perfect Rockwell picture if it means I get to spend time with the people that I love so, very dearly. They say you can’t pick your family but I wouldn’t trade mine in.

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