Turkey, without a side of food poisoning please


With next week being Thanksgiving, I thought I would share again about one fateful holiday year. For the last 14 years, I’ve been blessed knowing exactly which holiday I was spending where. Thanksgiving at my parents, Christmas with my husband’s family. This year, things just didn’t work out for an extra visit so we’re staying home. But I will never forget the year we all got food poisoning from a restaurant when we decided to cut our work load. We all wish we’d just put in the effort for a homemade Thanksgiving and we never made the mistake of eating out again.

Planning Thanksgiving took me back to the year 2007 — the year of the holiday mishaps.

My dad decided that we should eat out for Thanksgiving — mistake number one.

Western Sizzlin’ decided to leave the turkey sitting out too long — mistake number two.

We all thought it tasted a little funny but we ate it anyway — mistake number three.

My dad was in the process of building his beautiful home, so in the meantime, we all stayed in his little house on the prairie cabin minus the loft. It had running water…until the well ran dry. And it did, a lot. To flush the toilet, we had to go outside to the rain barrel and get a bucket of water to pour in the tank.

There were six people, one bathroom and food poisoning. When we weren’t running from the bathroom to the rain barrel and back again, we were huddled in the corner praying the person before us would hurry up.

“Someone needs to brave a trip to the grocery store,” mom said. I thought maybe I could handle it because my stomach seemed to be calming down. So, my brother, sister and I made a mad dash to the store to stock up on Imodium and Pepto.

“Please stay put,” I begged my stomach as we sped around the twisty, curvy Arkansas mountain roads. We just barely beat our stomachs to the store.

My sister’s stomach wasn’t as calm as she thought, so she made a quick dash to the bathroom and when she comes out, she’s on the phone.

“What do you mean you’re bleeding?”

“Who’s bleeding?” I asked, thinking someone was bleeding from the food poisoning.

“An engine fell on your head?”

“Whose head?” I asked, now worried about my kids.

Meanwhile, my sister is making the universal hand gesture for “shut up, I’m on the phone.”

“Okay, we’re on our way back,” she said, slamming her phone shut. “Mom said an engine fell on her head and she’s bleeding. She needs to go to the hospital.”

“An engine? You’re sure she said engine.”

“She said an engine rolled off the freezer and hit her in the head.”

“Yeah, if it was an engine, she’d probably be dead.”

In hindsight, we may have stood there discussing the situation a little too long. Although we were all fairly sure an engine hadn’t rolled off the freezer and hit her in the head — something had, and she needed to get to the hospital.

This time, we took the curves way too fast and nearly slid off the side of the mountain, but we made it back where we found that an alternator had rolled off the freezer and hit our mom in the head. A quick rock, paper, scissors later — it’s decided that I’m the one taking her to the hospital and my sister will stay with the kids. I think it was just because she needed the bathroom more than I did at that moment.

Five hours, six staples and a tetanus shot later, we’re released from the hospital with instructions to come back in a week for staple removal and to quit putting car parts on the freezer. You’d think that was the end of the story, wouldn’t you? How many things can happen over one holiday weekend to the same family?

Saturday, my son woke up fussy and he cried for 16,000 hours — maybe it was only six hours — and refused to eat so we decided to stop at the emergency room in a town we were passing through. Poor guy had tonsillitis.

Needless to say, we’ll never eat at a restaurant for Thanksgiving ever again.

A few weeks later, we were getting ready for Christmas, thankfully not traveling. Just a nice quiet Christmas at home. I was wrapping Christmas presents and ran out of tape.

“Hey, Aiden is sleeping,” I said to my brother-in-law. “Can you listen for him while I run to the store?”

William was three at the time and wanted to come with me. After getting the tape, we left the store and I got halfway to my car when I saw a giant white dog approaching out of my peripheral vision. I looked over at it and its head was down. It was not wagging its tail and it was showing its giant teeth.

I looked back at the door I’d just exited, then at my car, trying to decide which one was closer. In that split second I decided the car was my best bet and I started slowly walking toward it, even though every instinct I had was telling me to run, while keeping an eye on the dog.

Bam! I smashed my head into a square pole. The shape of the pole is important information. The corner of the pole met the corner of my eye and left a gash in my eyebrow.

We finally made it to the car and I opened the passenger side door, threw William inside and jumped in after him.

“You squooshed me, mama,” he said.

I did practically sit on him in my panic, but he was fine. I was the one with a gash in my eyebrow, which still doesn’t grow right, by the way.

I managed to get him buckled into his seat and I looked out the window expecting to see the dog trying to claw its way into the car, similar to the way the wolves attacked Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” but it was still standing in the same spot. So, maybe I overreacted a bit.

I thought I was crying so I reached up to wipe the tears away and realized I wasn’t crying. That was blood I felt running down my face.

After I got home, I told my brother-in-law that I was sorry I took so long at the store.

“You were gone 10 minutes,” he said.

That’s right. This whole episode that felt like hours happened in 10 minutes.

“I was attacked by a dog,” I said.

Then I relived the terror and really did start crying.

“If you’re going to cry, get out. I can’t talk to a hysterical female,” he said.

I did eventually admit that I over reacted to the stray dog. And I’m admitting now that I still overreact every time I see a stray dog.

Despite the year of the holiday mishaps, I still love them, and thankfully, none of them have been nearly as eventful as that year.

I’m happy to report that my family and I can finally look each other in the eyes again and my parents’ new house has three bathrooms.

Here’s hoping all of your Thanksgivings are full of love, thankfulness and no food poisoning!

Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.

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