Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Please enjoy the last chapter of my short blog story for November.
Hugs and Purrs from Fat Cat and Me!!
Thursday, November 28
Though he had been well organized up until this point, there was still a crazed flurry of action filled the kitchen on the morning of Thanksgiving. It was unlike anything Landon saw in their well-kept townhome. Delicious smells wafted from the double wall ovens and various pots bubbling and brewing on the stovetop. From his pre-ordered spot against the far side of the bar counter, he watched his partner, Maxwell, covered in the most ridiculous 'Kiss the Chef' apron move from a counter where he had a small binder filled with plastic covered recipes, rush to the stove to stir one pot, to the island butcher-block top where he had bags full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and herbs to add to whatever dish he created. All the while, Landon noticed Max kept a careful eye on the programmed timer with the various countdowns before sneaking another sip of the glass of red wine.
"You need to calm down, baby. They're not even here. They're family not strangers," Landon said, sliding his glass between his hands. He cringed after the words left him and Max turned to glare at him.
There was a ton of required teasing from their families, but everyone was coming. The table was set, the bird in the oven prepared and this one didn't slide across the floor was turning a beautiful golden color.
"A holiday meal for possible ten, what was I thinking?" Max muttered.
"You were thinking how you wanted to redeem yourself for Turkey Jerky disaster and you're doing an awesome job."
"If all this prep work doesn't kill me first, perhaps I will. Back to work."
The doorbell rang loud before the door burst open.
"Crap. I'm not ready. What the hell are they doing here?" Max leaned to the side as their family poured through the door.
"They're on time," Landon said as he checked his watch.
"No, it can't be."
"I'll deal with them. Go back to the kitchen," Landon answered as he slapped Max on the ass to get him moving.
"Hey. The apron says kiss the chef, not slap his ass."
"Oh, sorry, my mistake." Landon grinned.
Max grumbled as he hightailed it while Landon rose to greet their family.
"Mom, Dad," Landon said as he greeted his parents. "Mama, Papa," he said to Max's parents and kissed both of their mothers' cheeks. "How amazing all of you are here at the same time."
"Both of you said to be here by one and food served at three," his mother, Louise, said. "Your father didn't want to miss the game. How is Max? Oh, look at all of the beautiful decorations. I love it."
"How's the damn turkey? Are we getting jerky this time? I knew I should have stopped at the local bistro or something," his father, Lyle, grumped.
"Dad, please, Max's doing an incredible job this year to make our Thanksgiving enjoyable," Landon said. "Thanks, Mom."
"Of course he is. Just better not ruin the damn bird," Max's father said. "Why isn't the TV on? You know I don't wanna miss my Cowboys playing. Sheesh."
"TV is in the other room. I'll take your..." Landon said, but his mother stopped him as she gathered their coats. "Thanks, Mom. Put them upstairs in the second bedroom, please."
"Of course, honey. Show the boys to their game." Louise patted him on the cheek as she moved away.
"I'm gonna check on my Max," Max's mother said.
"I don't know if he wants company right now. Okay." Landon followed the older men into the room. He picked up the remote start the necessary electronics and surfed until he found the annual football game. "Here you go. Would either of you like a glass of wine, beer, tea?"
"Beer," both men said.
"Figures..." Landon walked away and stopped at the sight of his two brothers, their families, and his sister and her family. He expected one brother and family. "What the... What are all of you doing here...? And shit..." He watched Max's two brothers and their families enter the townhouse. "Oh, crap."
"Hey, Landon! How are you? Where should we set the table and chairs?" Max's older brother, Mike, called out.
"What are you all doing here? None of you said you were coming. Max is..." Landon glanced over his shoulder. "Max is gonna freak."
"Robert's parents got the flu and canceled. I called Mom who said to come here," his sister, LeeAnne, said as she pulled off their coats.
"Hi, Uncle Landon," Christalee, LeeAnne's daughter, said as she hugged his waist.
"Hey, Christy. How's my girl?" Landon said as he embraced his niece.
"I'm good. Where's Uncle Max?"
"Cooking up a feast."
"We heard everyone was gathering here from Mom. Since we went to Eileen's last year, we changed our minds last minute to come here. Sorry, little brother. We forgot to call," Landon's brother said.
"It's not a problem. You're family, Louie. The turkey is... Max is gonna freak he doesn't have enough."
"Enough what? Holy shit! Why the hell are there more people in our house?" Max asked, his voice rising higher.
Little ears were clamped with larger hands, but the kids laughed.
"Uncle Max said shit, Mama!" one of their young nephews pointed out.
Max cringed. "Hi, Tony. Sorry, Megan."
"We'll figure this out, darling." Landon grabbed Max by the shoulders, spun him, and forced him into the kitchen. "Mom, take over re-setting the table, please? Kids, Wii in the office, find it, play it! LeeAnne, Mama, I need you!"
LeeAnne grabbed a barstool on their way in and helped Landon force Max to sit on the stool before he passed out.
"The turkey feeds up to twelve. We have twenty! Twenty! Where the hell did we get twenty people?" Max cried out.
"Max, I need you to breathe and relax. We can figure this out," Landon said, taking Max's face between his hands and forced his partner to look at him.
"This is another disaster, Lan. Another one! No stores open. No time to cook another damn bird!"
"Ssh. Ssh. We'll be fine. It'll be a creative Thanksgiving."
"Honey, we all know our dad can slice a bird paper thin when he wants too. He'll do it this time. Christy, Rob and I are vegans and won't eat turkey. The boys will have a slice each or two of them will fight over the drumsticks," LeeAnne said.
"Thank god I made extra biscuits yesterday. What about side dishes? The ones I made are for so many people too," Max said.
"Again, the little kids will eat a small scoop or they wouldn't bother at all. Do you have macaroni and cheese?" LeeAnne asked.
"Yes, they do," Mama said as she pulled out three familiar blue boxes.
"Perfect. The kids will go bonkers their favorites uncles made mac and cheese for a holiday. If you have bacon, it'll be even better."
"We have bacon," Max said.
"Add it in for crunch and a little extra. What other frozen veggies do you have?"
"I..." Max looked between them.
Taking over, Landon moved to the freezer. "Sweet! A huge bag of sweet baby peas. I'm thinking my infamous smashed pea dish."
"I think we'll be good then," LeeAnne said.
Landon moved back to face his partner. "Okay? Unconventional conventional Thanksgiving with a few twists. Sound good to you, my love?"
"Anything better than Turkey Jerky," Max said.
"Let's get cooking," Landon said as he moved to the pantry and yanked down his plain apron which he tied in place. He tied another for Mama to protect her pretty shirt. "Crap... Gotta get beer out to our dads. Someone call for a kid to run errands for us." He yanked two bottles out and popped the tops.
His sister hollered for the oldest boy, who came running.
"What? I'm trying to whoop ass in Dance Dance Revolution," the kid said as he rounded the entrance.
"Ahh... No way, buster. I'm king of the dance!" Max pointed a spoon at his nephew. "After we eat, it's going on the big screen and I'll be whooping your ass."
"Yeah, right, Uncle Max," the pre-teen said with a chuckle.
"You're going down, kid."
"Take these to your grandfathers. Don't you dare spill a drop or you'll hear them holler," Landon ordered, handing over the beers.
"Yes, sir," the kid said and took off.
"Sheesh! Thinks he can beat my ass in Double Dance. We'll see about that," Max snorted as he turned back to his pots. "Shit. We need to turn this to a buffet. Robert, Louie!" Max hollered.
"Hell, I don't miss that holler," Robert said as he chuckled. He and Louie leaned around the doorway. "Yes, oh mighty chef? Don't even think I'm gonna dare kiss you."
"Ha ha ha," Max said full of sarcasm. "Get your asses into the garage. Find the stack of chafing dishes and sternos on the shelves. Remove all the decorations on the server table and buffet table. Toss them in one of the upstairs rooms. Push them together and cover with a paper tablecloth. It's in the first drawer in the buffet. Set all the dishes and sternos, with water, and the lighter is in the drawer. We're going buffet."
"Sweet. I like buffet. We got it covered." Robert hit Louie on the arm and they disappeared with their orders.
"Lan hon, extra pans..."
"Are in the bottom of the pantry, I know. I stashed them there when we purchased them," Landon finished for Max as he moved after setting his peas to cook for his dish.
Max sent him an air kiss.
A little over two hours later, the extended family settled down at the table after going through the buffet. After their family found their seats, Landon tapped his glass and rose from the chair. He placed a hand on his partner's shoulder.
"I wanted to say a few words before we dug into this unconventional conventional Thanksgiving feast," Landon said.
"Come on, Uncle Landon," one of the young nephews complained.
All the adults chuckled indulgent at the child's impatience.
"Hang on, kiddo. To all our family gathered, those expected and those unexpected, thank you for coming." Landon raised an eyebrow to those in question as more laughter rose. "Thank you to everyone for helping increase the size of our table at last minute while our extra chefs helped our master chef created the masterpieces."
Everyone clapped after his words.
"Last, I want to give deep, grateful thanks and love to my beloved partner of my life, my heart, and my soul, Maxwell, who brought all of us together at this table, this feast, and this holiday. I love you, Max," Landon said as he stared into Maxwell's adoring gaze.
"I love you, Landon," Max whispered under the cheers of their family.
As Landon leaned down to kiss Max, their family rose in one to cry out in one to call out, "No more Turkey Jerky!"