When I was little, I looked forward to the holidays.
It wasn’t for the presents — as a family we were so poor that I once received pencils with my name on them and an orange in my stocking. My cousin, by comparison, got a Commodore 64 that he broke three days later.
And it wasn’t about spending time with my parents — I hated my stepmother with a vengeance normally reserved for Hitler, decaf coffee, or disco. Probably because she bought me shitty presents like pencils and stupid fruit while she bought my cousin a computer he had no idea what to do with.
No, it was the food. As I previously mentioned, we were poor. Going to someone else’s house for the holidays was code for EAT A GREAT DEAL, and the hosts always seemed to be prejudiced against leftovers.
Now, I don’t remember where I was exactly when the following took place, but I recall standing in the doorway of the kitchen. The ‘elders of the tribe’ had returned from the butchers with a giant chunk of a deer they’d bagged a few days earlier. I watched as this beast was being prepped for the feast and I asked, in my city-boy naiveté, “Where does bread come from?”
One of them turned to me quite casually and said, “Deer.”
BANG! Talk about having your mind blown. I realize now, years later, that he probably thought I’d asked, “What is that?” or perhaps, “What’s a four-letter word for a graceful forest animal that rhymes with beer?”
But with this reply, I suddenly imagined the members of my family stalking this animal through the woods, cutting off its escape and finally launching a long and lethal arrow into the side of a big, brown, thundering and bounding creature that just happened to be made of soft, piping hot bread that tasted great with vegetable dip and made for great venison sandwiches.
I think I like my version better.