Column: Surviving the holidays

Despite the craziness, Thanksgiving provides priceless bonding with family

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Photo courtesy of Matthew Fisher

Columnist Matthew Fisher shares adventures from his family Thanksgiving celebrations in Oklahoma.

For some people, Thanksgiving is a day focused on family, food and football.

For me, it’s focused on survival.

Guns, poorly executed family photos and dangerously good food all highlight the Fisher Thanksgiving celebration.

On Thursday, we will take the two-hour drive to my grandparent’s farm in Southern Oklahoma. Relatives travel from San Diego, Houston, and Abilene, all to feast on what my grandmother, Meme, has cooked this year.

Waiting for the meal leaves time for extra-curricular activities, which in my family involves live ammo.

Every year my dad likes to take advantage of how isolated the farm is, and we use the area as a shooting range with a .357 and .38, as well as a pump action shotgun. It took an unexpected turn last year when my dad revealed that he had bought an assault rifle. While we shoot jello-filled milk jugs, my dad gives his typical speech about how the democrats are trying to take away our Second Amendment rights.

Guns aren’t the only method for family bonding.

We all meet in the living room where we will catch my grandfather, Papa, watching either westerns or Wheel of Fortune. Because of his age, Papa wears headphones connected to the TV so the rest of the family isn’t forced to endure Pat Sajak at maximum volume. When someone figures out the Wheel of Fortune puzzle, they’ll say the answer out loud, and a couple of seconds later Papa will yell the same thing with a confident look on his face as if he was the first one to solve it.

The natural setting of the farm appeals to my mom, who loves the idea of doing family photos for a Christmas card. What should take five minutes turns into a half-hour photoshoot with my unphotogenic family.

It’s not that we’re ugly. But every shot has it’s problem. There’s my brother, crossing his eyes or making a face as if he’s holding in gas. There’s my mom, halfway out of the shot as she runs in after setting the camera’s self-timer. Lastly there’s me, guilty of having my eyes closed in more than half the shots.

And then there’s that dangerous food I mentioned. The big reason my family travels across time zones is for Meme’s table.

Filled with honey baked ham, turkey stuffing, and sweet potato casserole, we load up for second, then thirds. But somehow there’s still room for dessert. Pecan pie, cherry pie, and that infamous chocolate cake, which is irresistible despite how unhealthy it is. Even after the holiday ends, we can’t escape the food. Cars full of leftovers travel back home to fuel breakfast, lunch and dinner.

While my family drives me nuts with their strange nature, there’s no other way I’d rather celebrate Thanksgiving. They are like medicine to a sickness I didn’t know I had. They make me realize just how much I need them.