Posts Tagged ‘traditions’

Oh ho.  Thanksgiving is the best holiday if you ask me, even better than Christmas. We do sort of a “progressive dinner” for Thanksgiving, as they call it.  Since so many of us live close to each other, we each host a different part of the feast at different houses. So, we start at my Aunt Jean’s house. Appetizers and snacks and the parade and football on tv. It’s hard not to get too carried away with all the good hot artichoke dip and cheese on crackers and the like. All the kid cousins get together and play games and put black olives on their fingers and pretend to be frogs. Then, we bundle up, get in our caravan of cars and trucks, and head over to mom’s house for the main part of the dinner. The kids and adults alike lift their noses, the turkey smells fill the house. We stomp the snow or rain off our boots and hang up a hundred wet, cold jackets and hats and mittens and scarves and they hang all crooked and dripping in the now-abandoned entry way. Everyone is talking and hugging and laughing at once, even though we already did that, but it’s like we have started over again and are all happy to do so. The kitchen is a tornado of people stirring mashed potatoes and getting more forks and pouring wine and slicing bread. Most of us have the good sense to stay out of the way and watch, or talk about nothing in particular, as we all wait for the moment that golden-brown bird comes sizzling out of the oven. Dad has to cut it up, it’s tradition. And furthermore, we all have to stand and watch. Heck, tradition is the name of the whole day. It’s funny how we all get such a kick out of the idea of doing the same exact thing on the same day every year. As if we are all tired of the ups and downs of life, so we pick a time and place and say, ‘This day will never change.’ Weeks before, we get excited just thinking about eating the same dishes, having the same conversations with the same people, feeling the same way as last year. Anyways, the kids get their own table, and the adults take turns keeping an eye on them. As forks and napkins and plates and cups all migrate to the tables, we follow close behind, knowing that the moment is near. We all hold hands. Matt says a prayer. He starts off with the ever classic grace before dinner: Blessusourlordandthesethygiftswhichweareabouttorecievefromthybounty. (Either it just rolls off the tongue like water over a dam, or everyone says it as fast as possible to get to eating.) He then says the same prayer committed to memory- a psalm about giving thanks. Some of us hardly listen because we can’t wait to take that first bite of a forkful of turkey dipped in mashed potato and covered in gravy. I look sideways at Calvin squirming and licking his little red lips. We shout amen! and the quiet calm before the storm is over, as we rush the plates of food, a chorus of oh mys and this looks greats and I’ll have some more of thats. During the dinner, we usually go around and everyone says something they’re thankful for. Steph squeezes my hand anytime someone says ‘and a roof over my head…’

And we’re not even done yet because after everyone has gotten seconds and thirds and whined about eating too much; we clean up and prepare to make one more journey. We shove into the entry way and grab for our coats and fight over mis-matched gloves and shove into those old boots and we all slowly pour outside. It’s a shock to the system- the difference between inside and outside. Grandpapa gets a little quiet to listen to the snow fall off tree branches. Adam and Molly stand holding hands, marveling at how the white covered lawns reflect the soft window glow of the neighbors’ houses. Everyone in this neighborhood is still inside their homes, absorbed by good food and traditions. It feels illegal to be walking outside- like we are the only ones who know there’s a world out here. We only have to walk about six blocks to my sister’s house. It feels great to stretch and breathe in new air. We link arms or hold hands as the kids run a little ahead. When we arrive, folk’s glasses steam up as they cross the threshold. Kate’s dogs bark and jump, excited to see us. We beeline to the kitchen, to see many shiny pies lined up. Apple, cherry, pumpkin, cheesecake, mince meat, pecan, merengue. It’s better than a bakery. We take slices of our favorites, pour strong cups of coffee, and revel in the goodness of the day, with the pie being the icing on the thanksgiving cake. The youngest ones get sleepy and end up in a big pile of blankets and pillows and arms and legs and puppies on the living room floor. Everyone I love and the best food you can imagine, all in one day. It’s the best. Even better than Christmas if you ask me. When it’s my turn to say what I am thankful for, I often feel overwhelmed because I have so much to list off. I make sure to say thanks for the cooks, the dish washers, whoever invented tryptophan because it works better on kids than cough syrup, and the seamstress who made pants that will fit all our expanding bellies! I probably couldn’t say anything too serious anyways.


Read Full Post »