Wednesday, May 20, 2009
That Thanksgiving The Oldest Man in the World Had Us All Over For Dinner.
When those brown envelopes came in the mail it was a surprise to everyone. A lot of people thought it was a clever advertisement, but when they all called their relatives to prepare for thanksgiving, well the only thing anyone could talk about was the strange letter handwritten on a piece of legal paper.
Everyone got a letter. Expecting mothers got two or more depending on how many they were expecting. In a couple of cases the mother didn't know how many children were growing in her, but in nine months the number of letters proved accurate.
The letters were all politely addressed to whatever name we each preferred. The return address read simply Great-Grandpa. A lot of people, I'm told, opened their letters wondering why their great-grandfather had written them a letter, seeing as they hadn't spoken since their eighth birthday.
The letters all had the same text too. Each one invited the addressed to join the mysterious sender for a holiday dinner. Eventually our Great-Grandpa called a press conference. He explained that he wasn't really our Great-Grandpa, there were a lot more greats. A lot of people didn't believe him when he said he was the founder of the human race, and a lot of people pointed at the bible and their old pictures of Adam from the fifties. "But he's not white!" they'd say. Great-Grandad would just chuckle and say "who knows what color I am, if you spent as much time in the sun as I have you'd be tan too." Eventually some team of scientists proved Great-Grandad right, everyone on the whole planet was related to him.
Our Great-Granpappy just got lonely, he'd been in a nursing home for thirty or so odd years and no one had visited him. So he had decided to invite us all to dinner. Every last one of us.
Of course, not everyone made it, and there wasn't enough room for everybody. Instead of cramming into some building we decided to set up tables along the highways. Everyone brought more food than they could eat, and we all ate more than we thought we could. As I asked a homeless man to pass the plate of dinner rolls I realized that I passed him everyday on my way to work. Then the thought struck me at how ridiculous it was that I never gave him a dollar. We all ate together, everyone, and then when we were all too full to eat anymore we went and shook hands with our great grandfather. He was an old black man with a big white beard.
A lot of people asked him why it took him so long to get everyone back together. He would answer shyly "You know how it is... trying to get everyone together... big families just have troubles like that sometimes. 'Course I would have wrote to you all sooner if you all hadn't been so damn angry at each other."
After dinner everyone went home and for a couple of months the whole country was happy. People hugged each other when they got off the subway. Airports were jam packed with people welcoming and hugging strangers. It was great: people didn't rob or kill each other, nobody got too drunk or took too many drugs. Everyone just wanted to be invited to next years Thanksgiving.
But then Christmas came and when everyone didn't get together we were all pretty disappointed. Then Valentines Day rolled past, and everyone started to forget the reason why they didn't cut in line anymore or cheat on their taxes. Soon everything was back to the way it was, and nobody talked about who they saw at Thanksgiving. Like the old man said "some families just have their problems, especially big families... but still its family."
I waited all year long for that envelope, me and the homeless guy who passed the rolls, we waited in the worn down benches at the post office. To pass the time we told each other old family stories. We waited another year, but those brown envelopes never came.