Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jingle Bells: More than just a Christmas tune.

As I sit here, eating a piece of leftover pumpkin bread, I can report that our first Thanksgiving in Mexico was both fantastic and absolutely horrible. But before I go on, let me preface this with: Bubba is currently, as I type this, sitting in my lap. So, as they say: "It Gets Better." (that link is unrelated to our dilemma, but it's an awesome cause).


Some of our Mexican friends were very curious about the holiday of Thanksgiving - specifically how and why we celebrate it, so we decided to invite them over for our celebration. And that was perfect, since part of Thanksgiving is all about filling your house with good food and good people. It was also perfect, because when you explain to someone that Thanksgiving is a holiday which we, as a culture, celebrate by cooking more food than we need, and then trying to consume as much of it as we can before the football game is over (Ahem. Go Pack Go.) ... that kind of blind consumerism is why the rest of the world hates us. Just so you know. Better that they just experience it in real time.

why yes, we did carve a potato/carrot to look like a turkey head. that's how we roll.

The day of Thanksgiving, as I said, was GREAT. Fiance had the day off and was excited to throw our 18 pound turkey (we named him Oscar) on the grill, and I had been baking since Monday, so our buffet of Thanksgiving awesomeness was already shaping up really well.

I set up a few tables with some festive plates and tiny pumpkin centerpieces (maybe this is silly, but since most of Mexico put up Christmas decorations the day after Halloween, it was super important to me that they understood we hadn't done so yet because there was another holiday in the way that had it's own color scheme. Which I suppose is a fancy way of saying that I care about what others think of me. At least I own it). We found a copy of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," and set it up to loop. And since we anticipated two little ones coming to join us - Little Dudette (who just turned 3 - it was an awesome birthday party), and another 2 year old gal we'll call The Kiddo - we even set up a traditional kiddie table with some crayons and activities to color in.

And then there was more cooking! I'm happy to say everything turned out fantastically. We wanted to make sure that our friends got the full Thanksgiving experience, so we had quite a spread: turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, crock pot applesauce, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, home made gravy, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake, ginger snaps and pumpkin "whoopee pies" (which are really just pumpkin cookies with whipped cream in the middle).

It was/ still is a lot of food, and as long as they weren't just lying to be nice, everyone seemed to really enjoy it. For many/ maybe all, this was the first time they had ever tried turkey, and while it tasted a bit weird to Fiance and I, (because we cooked it on the gill - needed the oven space for sides. It was good, just not what we're quite used to.) our Mexican guests decimated that bird. We have no turkey left overs. From an 18 pound bird! Little Dudette seemed particularly taken with the idea of eating pavo (Spanish for turkey), and reserved herself one of the legs.

Come to think of it, later in the evening she insisted that I wing her around like she was flying... kinda glad she didn't throw all that up. Ha. Close call.

And after dinner, Fiance took up the traditional role of the desert pusher - you know, the person who insists you have a slice of pie even though you have so much food in your stomach that you are wondering how impolite it could possibly be to just undo the top button of your pants. I took up helping the little girls with their art project.

The Kiddo was super confused about this whole "snap a picture" idea.
I blame my American accent, not her understanding of saying "cheese."

I get that a good chunk of people reading this may be unhappy that I decided to go with this particular project. And I understand why. My reasoning, is that this is an experience that both Fiance and I had as little kids on Thanksgiving, one I wanted to share.
I also wanted something simple for a 2 and 3 year old to do and occupy themselves, and later, they served as decent props for me to try and explain in my weak Spanish the history of the first Thanksgiving. There was also some serious confusion about what a Pilgrim is; thankfully Snoopy helped me out with that one. (tangental note: Snoopy is a really bossy jerk. Poor Woodstock.) If it eases your minds at all, our Mexican friends have a pretty good understanding of the history of how Native Americans were treated by the white settlers, and this was simply a childhood craft. Trust me, they got that.

We also made hand turkeys, though I confused the little girls pretty throughly when I asked them to put their hand down on the coloring paper in order to trace. So after that we fed the dog a ton of cookies in exchange for high fives, and all was well again.

In the end, we had a blast, good food was made, our friends learned about American Culture (it was super fun to be an expert for a night), and we have leftovers out our ears. Let's be honest, leftovers is kind of the best part of Thanksgiving.

Now. *big sigh*
The horrible part of the day started with an adorable white kitten.* And the Mexican idea of cat ownership. Which is thus:
A mama cat brings kittens into your yard for shelter. If you want, now you have cats. Until they get old and leave or you get sick of them and toss them back on the street. Whichever is soonest. And then you don't have cats anymore. Until the next time. And even if you really do consider a particular cat to be your pet, it's an outdoor pet. It comes around for food and sometimes you pet it, but ultimately it's fine on its own.

I named her Tellulah. I should probably have not named her at all, but Tellulah seemed appropriate.
Tellulah's been around our house for a week or so now. There are a ton of street cats in Mexico, so this is by no means out of the ordinary, and she was in the company of at least 7 other cats. But I'd been noticing that Tellulah was always the last one to run away when I shoo'd them out of our trash can. And that she would mew at me when I walked by on the street instead of just giving me that judging stare that street cats have perfected. Oh, and I noticed that she was really small, and that she had lost half of her floofy white tail in some kind of horrific accident. Which made me pity her.

And suddenly, Tellulah and I were friends - because I caught the Thanksgiving spirit, and decided to give Tellulah an entire hotdog, bit by bit. By the end of it, she was sitting in my lap purring and kneeding my leg while she chewed up her piece processed pig intestine. This made me pity her even more, because I got a pretty good close up of her ribs through her floofy fur, and of that little black nubbin/scab that is now the end of her tail. So throughout the day, I took to looking out at our trashcan and saying hello to Tellulah when I had a second, throwing her a french fry or a little head scratch. And I started thinking of ways to admit to Fiance that I named the disgusting little street cat... and of how I could ask him to let me take her to the vet to get her tail stump checked out. I started wondering how I could help this street cat find a warm home with kitty kibble instead of a cold trash can with a container of moldy sour cream.

Let me be clear that I did not have a thought of "gee, I wish I could keep Tellulah as my own." Because let's be real; Bubba and Mac are plenty. Critters have always had an ability to tug at my heartstrings, and while Tellulah was no different, with a little bit of age I have come to understand that adopting every way-ward stray is less "charitable heart" and more "crazy cat lady."

Anyway, after everyone had left and we were cleaning up, I went out the kitchen door to say hello to Tellulah again, and to check the washing machine (Our laundry is outside. This is common here). When in those 30 seconds or so that I had the kitchen door open... Bubba made a run for it.

I followed him pretty quickly, listening for the sound of the jingle-bell on his collar and calling for Fiance to bring me the key to the gate which Bubba so easily fit through but that I need to unlock to pass by. He made it across the street and through a neighbor's gate before I caught up to him and carried him back to the house by the scruff of his neck. Fiance and I sighed a big sigh of relief, put him down on the floor, and went back to cleaning up.

What we weren't thinking about, was that I had left through the kitchen door for the Bubba reconnaissance mission. Fiance had run out of the house's front door to give me keys. We both came back in through the kitchen door... and the front door was still wide open.

It must have been a half hour before I walked past to see the door was still open. And of course, by that time, Bubba had run back off into the night.

Back into the neighborhood went Fiance and I - both a little panicky. Bub had plenty of time to put distance between me and his collar's jingle bell. It was super late at night, and since our neighbors had a much different understanding of cat ownership than we do, there were a few awkward conversations when they came out to us shining a flashlight under their car. We walked up and down the street, shaking a dish of cat food and praying that wherever he was, he'd move enough for that jingle to lead us to him. Two hours later saw us no success.

We returned to the house, and I decided to sleep on the couch with the front door window open; hoping that if he came back I'd hear it and be able to let him in. Let's be real, sleeping didn't happen, but a whole lot of worry did.

I'll spare you the grueling list of horrific scenarios that went through my head. I laid on the couch stiff as a board willing every other sound but cat meows and jingle bells to cease, for four long hours. And then I heard a jingle.

And I got even more still, and I held my breath, and I had almost convinced myself that I was only hearing things that I wanted desperately to hear, not sounds that actually existed. And then I heard it again. And I jumped up and ran to the door and into the street barefoot and reclaimed my super-fat-by-comparison orange kitty from amidst the gang of skin and bone street cats he was galavanting with, and brought him inside and marched upstairs to Fiance and said simply "he came back."

And then I cried a little bit of happy, thankful tears and we all snuggled into bed together even though Bubba was dirty and smelly from his adventure. His adventure that was really very short compared to some unfortunate pets and families, but certainly long enough for Fiance and I.

Have you ever had a pet run away? What did you do?
Was there a happy ending? (I very much hope there was)

Today, we fitted Bubba with a new ID tag and a collar that has TWO jingle bells on it, just in case. He seems to feel pretty handsome in his new ensemble.

*As an additional happy ending to our tale, one of the neighbors we encountered while looking for Bubba told me "oh, I hope you find him. I've been looking for my cat too. She's little and white, and missing half her tail." I wasn't in a genial enough mind-set to ask what her real name is, but Tellulah is back in her own warm home with kitty kibble now. And that's pretty flipping awesome.


Bubba running away was a bit of a Debbie Downer post topic. In an effort to make sure you're 100% smiles by the time you click away from I need to tell you about my new favorite hobby. It involves this song. (I choose the youtube video that is just lyrics. Because the actual music video has a lot of... suggestive dancing... and I like to keep my reader's comfort in mind)

I like this song. A lot. And I know. I KNOW. If I was in the states when I first heard this song, I would probably not like it. But I LOVE THIS SONG. Because it's in English, and sometimes that's just a really nice reprieve for my brain. And because the lyrics are hilarious.
New hobby comes in at about 2:09.

When this song plays on the radio, everyone in this house over a weight of 12 pounds knows that when we get to "wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle yeah!", you better be shaking your butt. It might be Mac's new favorite thing ever. I may try to catch this on video. Stay tuned.

Do you have a silly house rule? Tell me about it in the comments!

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