You call it a holiday. I call it research!

Irish Toast

May your glass be ever full.

May the roof over your head be always strong.

And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

The haunting strings of “Danny Boy” weave an undercurrent of sound beneath the high shrieks of the little ones, the deep rumbles of the men, the calls of the women, and the clink-clank of glasses set on table tops. Heat from bodies and candles, but mostly from the oven that’s been chugging for two straight days. The scent of turkey, the cloying smoke of crisping skin heady in the throat, layered with the air whipped potatoes, the spice of stuffing, the clean sweetness of cranberries. It’s a golden blur. It’s three tables set end to end to end and not enough chairs or spoons or gravy.

It’s Grandma making extra corn instead of extra stuffing. It’s Uncle K having too much wine and repeating, “I found the damn lever ‘fore the repair man could!” to anyone who gets too close. It’s his wife knocking back her fifth glass as he starts the story again. It’s thirty people crammed into a split-level ranch. It’s three people sleeping at the neighbors and four more in the house around the corner, and do you think Bob and Joanna would mind David on their couch?

It’s going home just to sleep on an air mattress because my room has been given away. This is my Thanksgiving weekend extravaganza. To most, this sounds like a normal holiday for one coming from a large, tight-knit family. Chaos. Destruction. Love. Normal orders of the day. But now it is so much more.

My novel draft is starting to take shape, though my restructuring I spoke about in this post resulted in knocking my word count down a couple hundred characters. The upside is that my writing is sleeker, my scenes better formed, and I’m happy when I open up my documents in a way that was escaping me previously. So there’s that. However, I need to up my game in order to reach the 10,000-12,000 word count goal I need to pass my semester and move forward in my graduate program. Sigh.

Hopefully, this coming holiday weekend will be a big source of inspiration and raw material for me to mold into new adventures and insights. My novel is about a young girl trying to grow up and out of the shadow of her family, but to do that she has to understand just how much her world view is influenced by her parents. My own life is a direct inspiration for what my character, Marissa, is going through and so I’m always analyzing my friends and family. What better time to have a few revelations than in a house with thirty of my closest family members and copious mounts of food and drink? I’m taking a little journal with me, even if I have to sneak my notes while in the bathroom. If that happens, expect some tweets.

My family, or The Clan as I’ve taken to calling them, never fails to disappoint. With so many of out members coming to stay for several days, the bounty of material that awaits me has me salivating for more than turkey legs.

I’m also stopping home to pick up other supplies, such as my old journals, some books, and some direct parental wisdom.

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