To Sparkle Punch...

That is the question

A Thanksgiving prayer, courtesy of my grandfather, the man who once vowed to rip an elephant in half


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, that Super Bowl Sunday of family dysfunction, it seems appropriate to reflect on one of the most colorful members of my own family.

For the 87 years he was on this earth, my grandfather--inexplicably nicknamed Huey--was a unique individual. He lived with my dad and me towards the end of his life, and by that time, he was totally blind. He was also totally ornery, but that had long been his temperament. He had the best perma-cranky face, kind of like a Persian cat, and he only had one volume: loud. He didn't give a crap about conventional things. He was into weight-lifting before it was cool, he insisted on pronouncing "dinosaur" as "dis-i-nower," his death bed request was two Mounds bars ("Danny, sneak me two."), and he thought that his female doctor being a "fellow" (a medical fellow) meant that she was actually a man. Huey's favorite pastimes included blasting KYW at all hours of the day, interrupting my dad's dinnertime "teachable moments" by breaking into song (mainly ones that he had composed himself), and interrogating people for any reason imaginable (for instance, asking my friend Timmi why she had a boy's name, and grilling me on why our fruit bowl was suddenly missing--"Did Danny take it to work with him?")

So naturally, when Huey got a chance to chime in during grace before dinner, he took an equally non-traditional approach.

After the usual "bless us O Lord for these thy gifts..." my dad would turn the floor over to my grandfather and me for any "addendums." My grandfather would offer his own, well, directive, not to God, but to my dad: "Danny, make sure them women get them mammograms. And the men get them prostrate exams."

Every.Night. (Not surprisingly, another word Huey refused to pronounce properly was nor-mal-a-cy ("normalcy").)

So if you're struggling to come up with Thanksgiving grace, you can borrow Huey's daily prayer if you like. :)


Many of us will spend Thanksgiving with family members who eschew norm-al-a-cy, so here's hoping you can have some fun with the colorful characters in your life. When I was in high school, I often found Huey exasperating (oh, and he was), but now I'm thankful for the time I got to spend with him, especially because anyone who came into my life after 2006 (including my bffl and my bf) never got the chance to meet him. And stories don't do that nut justice. :)