One family's feast

November 28, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

Editor's note: This is one in a series of occasional stories examining "Lifescapes" - scenes from everyday life that help define the character of where we live.

It is a little after noon as a more than 18-pound turkey in Pam Clemmer's lower oven continues to roast in its fourth hour.

Clemmer, with help throughout the afternoon from her mother and mother-in-law, is preparing Thanksgiving dinner for her extended family. This year, that includes her and husband Andy's three sons, both sets of grandparents, Pam's grandmother and Ed Ramirez, a 20-year-old visiting from Paraguay as part of an exchange program.

Ethel and Jim Clemmer, a.k.a. Grammy and Pop-pop (or Poppop or Pop Pop, depending on whom you ask), had a pleasant three-hour drive from Souderton, Pa., in Pennsylvania Dutch country to Fountainhead North north of Hagerstown, Ethel Clemmer said.


"Two and three-quarters hours actually, driving time," corrects Jim Clemmer, 76.

Upstairs, Pam Clemmer's youngest son, 20-month-old Joshua, arrives at Grammy's feet with a blanket.

"Blanky. Are you tired?" asks Ethel Clemmer, 75, as Joshua tumbles over onto his blanket.

Andy Clemmer is sitting on the carpet in oldest son Jacob's bedroom as the pair finishes assembling a K'NEX Rekonstructors tank. Jacob's 7th birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year, but he received the gift last Saturday at a birthday party.

"The first phase Jake was involved in," said Andy Clemmer, 34, an insurance agent for his father-in-law's Cumberland Valley Insurance Inc.

Joshua and Jacob wrestle on his blue carpet as their dad continues working on the tank. Then Josh lifts Jacob's shirt to give him a "zerbert" on his belly, but Jacob escapes.

"The problem with him is you never know when it's going to be a bite," Andy Clemmer said.

Pam Clemmer, 34, walks into the room and leans over her husband.

"Look at my eye. See? It's black and blue."

Clemmer explains that earlier it appeared Joshua was going to hand her the phone, but hit her left eye with it.

"How do you punish a 1 1/2-year old?" Andy Clemmer asks. "I tried to give him a time out, but he was just laughing and giggling. He had no idea what he did."

Jacob and his dad finish the tank with some of the 191 pieces left over. Jacob said those pieces are used to transform the tank into other toys.


Downstairs, Pam's mother has returned. Nola Harnish, also known as Gran, brought the stuffed turkey to the two-story, tan brick home that morning.

Andy Clemmer and Jeremiah, also called J.J., are at the kitchen table eating some beef soup to hold them over until the turkey is ready. J.J., 4, picks a piece of beef up with his fingers, thinking it's chicken. "It's beef," his dad tells him.

The two grandmothers are in the spacious kitchen conferring about the turkey, which appears to be almost done even though dinner is more than three hours away. They decide to lower the oven temperature.

As J.J. lays on the L-shaped green sofa in the family room watching Nickelodeon, Josh climbs onto the other side of the sofa and crawls under a red and white blanket. Then the toddler runs to the patio window and back to the sofa and blanket. That lasts another few seconds before he walks on the sofa and jumps onto J.J. just as J.J. catches him.

Josh, playing with a rubber band, walks up to his dad in the dining/living room, then over to the two tables set up next to each other as one long table set with silverware and autumn-themed paper plates, cups and napkins.

No chairs are around the table yet because that's the only way to keep Josh from climbing onto the table, Andy Clemmer said.

Despite an earlier claim by Pam Clemmer that there was no football watching expected, Andy Clemmer is sitting on the sofa in the living room watching the Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions game on a 40-inch television.

"Thanksgiving without football. That's almost unAmerican," he said.

A Philadelphia Eagles fan, Clemmer wants the Packers to lose, but doesn't hold out much hope.


Dinner is to be served at 4.

The microwave clock reads 1:33 p.m. and Harnish thinks the turkey is done.

"It's got longer to go. A lot longer," says Harnish, who lives two miles away. The oven is turned off for a while.

As Ethel Clemmer pours her oyster filling into one of Harnish's casserole dishes, J.J. is pulling himself across the dining room floor on his stomach while Jim Clemmer and neighbor Jason Morton with his 8-month-old daughter Meredith sit in the living room watching the game. Andy Clemmer is checking on a napping Josh.

It is the second quarter and the Lions are leading the Packers shortly before halftime.

Jacob, J.J., and Ed take turns playing Donkey Kong and a Super Mario Bros. 3 game on two GameBoys.

In the kitchen, Pam Clemmer is standing on the counter in her socks searching tall cabinets for her sugar dish.

Ed takes the opportunity to get a video camera out, but she finds the dish and jumps down.

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