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Our usual Thanksgiving pies are irresistible

My son’s best friend is Walter.

When Walter was eight weeks old, my son, Bart, adopted him from a sunny farm in Georgia. While the breeder specialized in yellow Labrador retrievers, Walter is an especially handsome English cream color.

I say “our Walter,” because he is my son’s sidekick. Everywhere Bart goes, Walter is within petting or eating distance. He spends work days at Bart’s offices with other employees’ dogs, and walks many miles with his master.

So naturally, when Bart arrived last Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house in Massachusetts, Walter was in tow. But here’s the rub: My daughter, Alix, has never really been comfortable around dogs, one of the reasons the kids never had one.

But Bart always wanted a dog. I was thrilled for him when he was settled down in one place, finally ready to pick a puppy. He found a winner, and I acquired a granddog.

When Walter comes to my house, he is his usual playful self with Finian, our resident feline. He’s a bit underfoot for me in the kitchen, all 100 pounds of him, but I have a doting fondness for the big guy. Finian tolerates him – they even nap near each other. However, when Walter arrives at Alix’s home, her two tiny cats fearfully disappear, not to be seen again until Bart and Walt head back to Annapolis. And she is not thrilled.

I understand both points of view. Coward that I am, I try not to weigh in, practicing a wee bit of diplomacy. Last Thanksgiving required more than a bit.

The morning after turkey day, our whole gang headed to a historic house tour nearby.

Walter remained behind. Before we left, Alix asked her brother, “Is it okay if I leave all this out?” fanning her arm over the dessert-laden table. Walter couldn’t be banished to the basement because that is where Grace and Hermione, their sweet kitties, were cowering from the enormous canine interloper.

Bart said, “Not a problem. Walter NEVER climbs up on the tables or counters.” He had trained him really well and wasn’t the least bit concerned.

After the house tour, Bart took me to Boston for a belated birthday lobster, while the remaining five family members headed home for lunch.

Almost two hours later, as we were leaving the restaurant wharf, Bart called Alix. He was anxious.

“So, how did everything go?” he asked.

In a s-l-o-w, deliberate voice of doom, his sister replied, “THERE WAS A PROBLEM. WE’LL TALK ABOUT IT WHEN YOU GET HOME.” I saw his face fall. Uh-oh.

“No, tell me what happened.” From the voice, that he rarely heard, he knew.

She recited the list of damages: Her favorite apple crunch pie with an eaten middle, was on the floor. Five donuts were missing, a plate of cookies, and one totally demolished blueberry pie. And there was this dog with a blue nose and paws who had decorated many paths through the kitchen and family room. Then she added, “It was a nice welcome back.”

I watched my son blanch in the driver’s seat. “Oh s***. OMG. I’ll be there as fast as I can.”

The Voice replied: “You don’t have to rush. We have cleaned it all up.”

Accelerating in Boston traffic, he wasn’t chatty. He was thinking only of two inevitabilities: facing his sister’s ire when we arrived back at the house, and trying to calculate when the blue contents of Walter’s digestive system would make their reappearance.

I felt sorry for Alix, losing her favorite pie. She and Malcolm, her son, had made it together, for the first time. But I was also bummed that my favorite, the blueberry, was history.

Ironically, Bart’s favorite pies, the pumpkin (there are always two) were not touched. Ouch.

When he arrived back in Maryland, Bart tried to order a special apple crunch pie delivery – with no luck. She smiled – at least he tried.

This year, Alix banished her cats to the basement before Walter arrived, rather than try to lure the scaredy-cats out of their hidey-holes. And over drinks, Bart regaled the family with last year’s trip home. Walter’s gastrointestinal payback left blue geographical markers that are now GPS checkpoints in southern Pennsylvania and central Maryland.

Last Thanksgiving’s fiasco has already joined the family’s memory bank of laughter for years to come. Family will always survive pie destruction.

This year, I got my blueberry pie. Bart and gang got their pumpkin. Walter received only a few of my palmed turkey snacks at the dinner table. No pies, no cookies, no doughnuts.

And Alix? Well, the apple pie that arrived for Thanksgiving wasn’t apple crunch. So, I have made a solemn oath.

Big dog, little cats, Christmas trees – nothing will get in the way of my girl’s first present when the family arrives in four weeks. Welcome home, Sweetheart. How about a piece of apple crunch pie?

Marcy O’Brien can be reached at Moby.32@hotmail.com.

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