A Thanksgiving Story

By
December 2, 2004

"I have some good news and some bad news," my mom said as she walked into my room. It was the night before Thanksgiving and my mom, Doris, had been busy in the kitchen making pumpkin pie, one of my favorite parts of this holiday. "The bad news is I used twice as much honey in the pie." My jaw dropped.

I live for this pie, but this year it was going to be even better because my mom grew the pumpkins. "But the good news is I had enough ingredients so I am making twice as many pies." All was right again.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, not only because of the pumpkin pie, but also because of my family, of which my mom is at the center.

On Thanksgiving Day, my mom, her friends Millie and Shirley, who are like aunts to me, and my sister Celeste, were busy in the kitchen preparing our dinner. I got the task of helping Millie and Shirley's husbands rearrange the furniture. It is hard to fit 16 people into our small, 1000 square foot house for a sit-down dinner.

During all the chaos, more people have arrived, and although I am only related to four of them by blood, they are all my family.

My immediate family consists of my mom and her five children. My brother Josh, who is 32, and my sister Celeste, who is 30, have a different father than us younger three, but none of us have ever called each other half-siblings.

My little sister and her mother arrived and my mom took the initiative to introduce them to the rest of the guests. "Here is Anna, Chris and Grace's sister Kayemarie who I did not give birth to, and her mother Terriann. We are ex-wives-in-law," my mom said. Terriann married my father when I was six, had Kayemarie when I was seven, and then they divorced. I don't have a relationship with my father, but Terriann and my mom are good friends now, so she and my sister come to visit us whenever they can. "We decided that Kayemarie is just too cute, so we can't call her a half-sister, because we like all of her," said my mom.

Kayemarie and I began snacking on pumpkin pie. We always eat pie before dinner, because you enjoy it more then. At four o'clock, we were nibbling on pie, waiting for our neighbors to arrive. They received a last minute phone call from one of their daughters, crying because she wanted to come home for Thanksgiving, but was stuck in traffic. Chris, my little brother, is also MIA, although out four wheeling with friends is a less valid excuse.

Missing guests aside, the real reason we have not started eating is that the turkey is still in the oven. This is because of the confusion surrounding the five-pound turkey Celeste picked up from the store. No one knew who was cooking it, or what was wrong with it to be so small.

"I have never heard of a turkey weighing so little," said Millie. "A small turkey weighs around 13 pounds, even a hen would weigh more." When you send a vegetarian out to the store for the turkey, be prepared for anything. It turned out that the turkey was missing its wings and legs and when it was finally brought to the house at two o'clock, it was still frozen.

By around five we were getting closer to eating, the house smelled wonderful, the food was tempting our noses. My older brother Josh called to tell us some good news. He and his wife, Susan, live on Maui, and they called to tell us they are expecting a baby in July. Three of the kids in my family are married, but this is going to be the first grandchild. The level of chatter increased with the news and everyone started talking about the baby.

"I'm glad Susan is going to have a baby first," said Celeste.

"Everything has to happen in chronological order," said Crista, a friend of Celeste's who is like another child in the family. "That means you have to get married next," she said to me. Only Chris and I are still single, but we are both busy with school.

At six the food was finished and we gathered around the table for a blessing. "For health and strength and daily bread we give our thanks oh Lord." We sang in a round while holding hands. The food was all laid out on the counter; every color of the rainbow was there to choose from.

There were three main dishes to accommodate vegetarians, vegans and carnivores,  Acorn squashed sutuffed with millet, a seitan dish (which is wheat gluten) and of course the turkey.  There also were two kinds of mashed potatoes, one vegan one not, a huge garden salad and stuffing with grapes in it.  I was a little weary of the stuffing, but everything else looked great.

After dinner the adults salt around the table taking, while the kids sat on the couches picking on each other and rough housing.  The noise level increased so much that my mom had to come and tll us to settle down.  We are all adults now, but I guess some things never change.

My sister Grace called,  She just got married in Januarty and it was her first Thanksgiving away from the family.  She lives only ten hours away in San Diego but couldn't get time off work.  She sounded lonely and a bit jealous iof the good time we were having, but we  were too caught up in the festivities to really notie.  Maybe next year she will come home.  

Two hours after dinner, with the house clean, the food put away, everyone was content.  I thought about the day and realized how blessed I am to have so many people I can call family.  They have all known me my whole life, and are what I know to be true family.  It is a family that my mom has built around her, probably because she was an only child.  

She and I decided that we will stay home every Thanksgiving and invite a lot of people over.  Next year, if the meat eaters want turkey, one of the will have to buy it.


A Thanksgiving Story was published on December 2, 2004 in Features

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