A Happy Ending...

I know how the book ends. Trust me. So turn back to that page where your bookmark sits, waiting for you to live the way you were meant to live, savoring every moment.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tail-Pinching, Head-sucking, and more on Traditions

It seems that my entire life is centered around traditions. I don't know if we're normal or the experiential equivalent of "pack-rats" and simply can't let anything go. But we have traditions that happen every year and I look forward to them all. Tomorrow, is perhaps my favorite of all: The Crawfish Boil. It's the best damn party this side of Louisiana.

And this year is special, because it marks our 20th Annual Crawfish Boil. We've done this thing for 20 years, in good times and bad, so this year is truly a cause for celebration. And what have we done to mark this momentous occasion? Why, we made t-shirts of course! READ: I made t-shirts. It seems that writing bubble letters and making t-shirts are my lot in life, but you don't hear me complaining. Yes, tomorrow the entire clan (13 and counting), both young and old, will be decked out in these babies. Even the new baby has a teeny-tiny one AND I made Dad an apron (he's the cook) because he's got the messiest job of all.
Our day starts early. Actually, preparations begin weeks in advance. But the big stuff happens that day. Chopping, chopping, and more chopping of vegetables for the best gumbo you'll ever taste, setting up chairs and tables, making cocktail sauce. And then, the crawfish arrive. Straight from the Crawfish Farm in Lake Charles, LA that very day, they cruise in the back of Mr. Al's truck, "big red. OK, big red as retired and it's not "big blue" the suburban, but whatever.

NOTE: environmentalists, beware. You might not want to read the next paragraph. In fact, you might not want to read my blog.

At that point, the journey toward the light begins for the crawfish. They're carried in big mesh bags and put in the grass where they get hosed down periodically. Then they take a final swim in the big aluminum tub before they're tossed into the boil. Oh, come on folks, it's what the day is all about. The kids always play with them while they are in the big tub. You've got to know just how to pick them up though - those suckers hurt! There's typically always an unfortunate pinch. Boil by boil, we cook up about 350lbs of the critters, as well as pot of gumbo big enough for me to sit in, and a vat of corn and potatoes.

The crowd begins to arrive about 4pm. Over the years, the crowd hasn't changed much. Generally speaking, once you're invited to the Crawfish Boil, you're kind of always invited. I take that back. We've made some cuts over the years - you know how friendships go. But for the most part, the guest list hasn't changed. And it's cool to see children's children now coming. Three Generations. Like I said, once invited, always invited.

Ah, the party begins. It'll go on for hours and end sometime before the next morning. Every sits down with a beer flat full of crawfish, a steaming bowl of gumbo and a tasty cold one. (I'm tipping my hat to the mayor there) Pinch the tails, suck the heads, toss them into the heep. NOTE: my dad always told me that the yellow stuff was mustard. I'll just go with that, thank you very much.

Usually by 10pm or so, my Mom is talking really loud and repeating herself. My dad looks pooped and happier than he is all year. Our eyes are all glazed over and our fingers are stained red. There's usually some dancing in the garage, (Mom says she likes to "get down.") a poker game, a floated keg and multiple beer runs following that, and few crawfish who braved the escape into the backyard, only to find out that it is enemy zone. We've had a few romances develop over the years, a broken bone, a visit from the police, spilled urine during a game of truth-or-dare (don't ask) the best damn game of hide and seek ever amidst all the cars, and much much more.

So that, my friends, is the Crawfish Boil. But the tradition doesn't end there. Nope. We wake up Saturday morning and chase a Tylenol with a coke to ward off the hangover, then gather to get the house and yard cleaned up. A little siesta, then it's time for more festivities. We all head over to Don'Keys in Pasa-get-down-dena for some awesome Mexican food and margaritas and some good laughs. I'm sure we break some commandment with all the festivities, but hey...we're a devout people and we're honest about our indulgences.

It's probably weird to have so many family traditions (and to add to the list EVERY year). I know it's weird this day and age to like your family enough to want to see them at all the events. But we genuinely like each other and love to be together for all the traditions. There are many more, but I'll tell you about those another day. They all have their own story. Our traditions make us who we are. Our traditions are sacred to us, and frankly, they are sacred to those around us.

I don't know what you're doing this weekend, but I plan to pinch a tail, suck a head, and drink a toast to YOU!


  • At 8:14 PM, Blogger Lauren said…

    Your family is so fun!

  • At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My family isn't big on traditions. I mean, we have the usual all-together-for-holiday type gatherings, but nothing as cool as an annual Crawfish boil! This is something I want to try to have with my kiddo. But how exactly do you *start* tradiitons...I mean, traditions just *exist*...and are *traditional*...hmm....I'll have to work on this one.

  • At 7:48 AM, Blogger trishy said…

    As an expert on traditions, I'd say that a tradition happens when you do something, think "hey that's really fun, let's do it again next year, same time, same place" and you follow through. A few more examples from my family:

    1. Go to Nuevo Laredo every Memorial Day. (and we liked it so much for 15 years, we started going on Labor Day, too...at least a few times)

    2. Go to my aunt and uncle's ranch in west texas every January. We just went once with the whole clan, had a good time, and thought, let's do this again.

    3. We go to Florida every summer, stay at the same condo, and even eat in the same restaurants. Been doing that for 30+ years.

    OK, I'm taking up too much space on my own comments section.

    I guess this might get boring to some people, but we love all the things we do. I think it's great to have traditions when you have kids. It was a great way to grow up, because there is always something to look forward to. Even if it's not really a big deal, it's still something to look forward to and anticipate each year.

  • At 12:54 PM, Blogger Rob West said…

    Damn. Sounds good enough to make me wish I wasn't allergic to seafood.

    I'm not allergic to beer though. Or Poker.

    I'd like a table for ten, please.

  • At 1:22 PM, Blogger trishy said…

    Hmm, maybe next year a certain mayor and a certain little slice o' hot can fly down with us for the party of the year...

    PS the gumbo is non-seafood, as is the beer

  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger Lauren said…

    Hmmm. . .I'm sorry to bring my dirty mind into this, but every time I read "head-sucking". . .

    I'll leave it at that.

  • At 10:50 AM, Blogger trishy said…

    why you fit right in. we cajuns are dirty people.

    seriously though...you've got to come to my house for this one year!

  • At 12:34 PM, Blogger Lauren said…

    I totally want to come. Question: Are there Sugar Bears at this event? I guess there will be once I arrive. ;)

    I hope to talk to you today sometime.

  • At 1:30 PM, Blogger trishy said…

    well, either that or teddy grahams.

  • At 2:22 PM, Blogger Leslie said…

    Ethan and I have a list of traditions we are going to start when we get a family. Is that weird? It's not written down or anything, it's just in my head. Every once in awhile when we get an idea I'll tell him it's added to the list.

  • At 7:10 AM, Blogger trishy said…

    Leslie: I think that's really cool actually. I want to hear some.


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