What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader is the diary of Elaine Rewitzer, an eleven-year-old comic book loving geek who tries out to be a cheerleader.
Food is often a source of angst for tween girls like Elaine, but the excerpt I'd like share is not about her own food issues, but her grandmother's. Elaine, her mother, and sister are trying to please her paternal grandmother who has some very specific ideas about a proper Thanksgiving dinner:
Usually Grandma doesn’t eat Thanksgiving dinner with us. She only shows up later in the evening to have a slice of pecan pie. She doesn’t like pumpkin. I think she usually has dinner with my dad first, but she never says anything about it. That’s fine by us, because then we can have whatever we want for dinner just as long as we hide the leftovers before Grandma comes around. Sometimes we don’t even have a turkey because none of us really like it that much. One year we had Chinese food.
This year Grandma said she was coming for the whole dinner and everything. No offense to Grandma, but she’s making things a lot more stressful than they have to be. She’s insisting on a full Thanksgiving dinner with linen napkins folded perfectly and a matching tablecloth and everything traditional. That includes a big turkey with stuffing, yams, rolls, green bean casserole, peas, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, whipped cream, and cranberry sauce. It all has to be homemade. Nothing can come from the store or out of a can. Mom tried to get out of it by saying, “That’s too much food for two women and two girls to eat.” But Grandma was really stubborn about it. She said, “I want my granddaughters to know what it is to have a real, traditional American Thanksgiving.”
A real, traditional American Thanksgiving is a lot of work. The turkey is so big, Mom had to get up in the middle of the night to put it in the oven so it would be done in time. Amy and I had to peel a mountain of potatoes, set the table, help with the pies, and keep an eye on the oven because our timer doesn’t work. Grandma just got here, and she’s already complained about everything. Stupid stuff like:
1) Our tablecloth has a stain on it. – Just a tiny one and you can barely see it.
2) Cranberry sauce from a can is tacky.
3) We don’t have proper, matching water glasses.
4) Amy should know how to set a table properly. (I told Grandma that’s she’s only five, but she said, “That’s no excuse.”)
There is a bunch of other stuff, but it would take too long to list everything and I’ve got to get back to helping Mom.
I’m starving! I feel like we’re never going to eat!
Okay, dinner is almost ready. I just put out the cranberry sauce. I love how it slides out of the can but still keeps the same shape. In fact, it’s my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I love being the first person to cut into the cranberry sauce, so I put it on the table near my chair.
I just heard Mom grumbling in the kitchen. Something about how, “If the old lady wanted a traditional meal, she could have at least offered to help.” I feel bad for Mom. She is totally exhausted.
Thanksgiving is finally over! As soon as we started eating, the first thing Grandma said was, “Well, I’m sorry to say it, but this turkey is a little dry.” I thought Mom was going to lose it, but she didn’t. She’s really good at not yelling, even when Grandma deserves it.
After dinner, Grandma said, “Elaine, did you enjoy your traditional Thanksgiving?” I said, “It was really great, but I think it would be a lot better if we had it in a real, traditional house. Maybe next year we can have traditional Thanksgiving at your place?” Mom was drinking a glass of water, and she must have swallowed the wrong way because she started coughing really hard. Grandma’s face got all pinched, and she said something about her house not being set up for small children, which is stupid because my dad and his brother grew up there. After Grandma left, Mom gave me a big hug and said, “Honey, you’re a gem!”
Belle Bridge Books was kind enough to publish What I LearnedFrom Being a Cheerleader. It’s available online and at select Barnes and Nobles stores.
For those readers who like comedy, but prefer a little more YA (or even A), I’m also exploring the wonderful world of ebooks with my YA vampire comedy, Fangs for Nothing, and my barbarian parody, Confessions of a Virgin Sacrifice. Both available on all ereaders for 99 cents.
Thank you for stopping by and sharing some food for thought, Adrianne!