What Thanksgiving Means to Me

Place settings have been set, pies are in the oven and the feeling of love, joy, and family can be felt throughout the air. It's the time of year for us to come together and celebrate. Happy Thanksgiving! 

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always something I looked forward to, not because of all the delicious food that would be served but seeing all of the family members that I hadn't seen in a while. Thanksgiving is a time for fellowship, thankfulness, and a time to reflect over the year. 

The annual Pridgen/Johnson Thanksgiving tradition began in 2006. After my grandmother passed away the families decided that every year they would open their doors for family and friends. My mother and aunt Damita (a Drexel grad 85') have brought together both sides of the family for the past thirteen years and it's something everyone looks forward to. The preparation begins the week before Thanksgiving as we decorate the house with the help of my older cousin Brandon. He makes sure all the tables and chairs are arranged accordingly for our 60 or more guests. The night before Thanksgiving you will find my mother and aunt in the kitchen cooking all night long as they sing, laugh and sip wine. I cannot forget my Uncle Wayne as well, who is preparing all the meat and fried fish for hours. My dad, on the other hand, helps out in the kitchen too, not cooking but taste-testing everything. This year's menu includes some of my favorites: ham, turducken, mac & cheese, collard greens, sweet potatoes with marshmallows,  sweet potato pie and, of course, so much more!Image courtesy of Jayla Johnson from Thanksgiving 2018 menu

Dinner always starts at four o'clock and my Uncle Ronnie is always the first family member to arrive. He can be seen throughout the house taking all of the pictures capturing everlasting memories for everyone. All the guests make their way into the kitchen for prayer --it sets the tone for the evening. Lines are formed and plates are piled high from the many choices that have been prepared. Conversations spark and everyone's favorite line of questioning begins "How is college?", "Who are you dating?", "What are your plans for Christmas?", and so on.  I'm sure we can all recall a time when we got asked such questions, it's never-ending it seems like. 

After second helpings have been eaten and homemade cakes, pies, and other delicious desserts have been served, many of us can be seen and heard playing Spades, Bid Whist, Pinochle, Sequence, Uno, and everything else you can imagine. We can be up all night playing games, no one wants to leave. "Thankful Bags," as my mom calls them, are filled for our guests as Thanksgiving comes to a close. Once the kitchen has been cleaned I'm hoping and praying that it will not be me again this year. That's the job for someone else, in particular, my sister Janai and cousin Sydney! They are the ones who set up the place settings and make sure everyone has somewhere to eat. #Grateful. When the home is put back to normal, you can find all of us in the family room as the fireplace is blazing, popcorn and snacks are made, holiday movies are playing and the feeling of Christmas is in the air. Our annual movies include The Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone and of course It's a Wonderful Life. 

I love Thanksgiving and my family traditions that have been going on for so long.  Each year it gets better and better and something I look forward to.

"Our Thanksgiving is joyful and uplifting. It's all about giving and being thankful. Good food fuels the soul." If you've made it this far and love what you've read don't hesitate to show up and join in on my family's celebration! We would be more than happy to see you, our doors are always open to welcome family and new friends.