We don’t call it “turkey day”. We don’t even always have turkey.
But I love Thanksgiving Day. What other holiday do we celebrate that is totally intended to be 1.) Christian, and 2.) American?
So very few people actually are at all able to assimilate this truth.
But it is true: The celebration of Thanksgiving Day is a Christian and an American act, no matter who else joins in.
We have always taken it quite seriously, too, often beginning with the five kernels of corn, proceeding to telling what we all are thankful for, and ending with glorious stuff topped with whipped cream, we do the whole thing.
All our kids and grandkids come to be with us that weekend, as opposed to the December holidays, when they run to their other in-laws. They all volunteer to bring food and the dear daughters-in-law have developed quite a repertoire they love to contribute: pumpkin pies, Polly’s Apple Pie!, sweet potato casserole, ham, dressing, whipped potatoes, blueberry pie, and Good Pie, so far.
Our one daughter does whatever needs doing as the day progresses, helping me like a sweet little slave, even helping clean her one remaining unmarried brother’s bedroom before he comes home from college, but her specialty is the banana-bread-bar-none.
Their dad and I contribute turkey, corn, peas, apple gelatin, cranberry sauce, whipped cream, cherry pie, raisin pie, olives, pickles, sausages, and oh, a whole lot more.
They all stay with us, here, in our house or in our guest house, for most of the entire weekend, usually arriving on Wednesday. That night I supply two soups, something venison, and something special. This year it was venison chili, and pumpkin soup, a whim, for me. You see, it is my tradition that I make one “whim” soup.
Another tradition is that my husband goes a little crazy at the grocery and comes home with several $6 bottles of pickled things like jalapeno-stuffed olives or hot vegetable mix. Mmm! The two stoves and three refrigerators stay maxed out.
We have the big meal on Thursday for lunch, at noonish, but we don’t really worry about the clock. We play games like Balderdash and Scattergories, we eat leftovers forever, and we laugh ourselves silly. I’ve noticed the daughters-in-law developing very good relationships with each other and it gives me joy. I love it.
My enemy hates it. I think he hates the show of a whole family being joyful together. I know he hates the act of giving thanks. And, of course, being our enemy, he hates us.
What makes me say all that? Well . . .
I’m trying to think of a single Thanksgiving Day that he did not try to spoil.
- One year, back before we had our own grown kids and were still going home to our own parents, we hit a dog and could not make the trip as planned because of a ruined radiator.
- Another year, we were rear-ended in rush hour traffic, making us unable to make the trip because the trunk would not open for our luggage.
- Another year, we were hit in an intersection by someone who did not know how to drive on ice.
- Once, one of our sons broke an arm and needed surgical repair and overnight observation.
- Once, one son got diarrhea and was admitted to the hospital for dehydration. And then my husband had a wreck. Same year.
- Once, one of my husband’s best friends died and we stayed here for the funeral.
- We hit a couple of deer and all the body shops were booked until January.
- One time, our fridge conked out. (It was 2 years old.)
- Once, I got sick.
- Once, my husband and I both got sick.
All these happened on or just before individual Thanksgiving Day weekends. I know once I post this, I will slap my head because I have just remembered the one I forgot.
We get tired of these attacks. Number 10, above, is this year. (2011) I have a fever and a cough as I type this. My head hurts. I did not get to play games with my family, for fear of infecting them with we-know-not-what, since the doctors are closed this weekend.
My wonderful daughters-in-law ran my kitchen like pros and everyone but me had a lovely time.
But I had a lovely time, in a small way. From my bedroom where I quarantined myself for the sake of their health, and because I truly felt like crud, I could hear how wonderfully my family plays and laughs and carries on despite adversity. And from my bedroom, I loved them.
And Thanksgiving Day.