Thanksgiving; a time of giving thanks for the things you have, the family you are spending it with, and the over amount of food that you are not going to be able to finish until Christmas.
Now even though the tradition of Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have the most honorable start, as we remember the pros and cons of the first dinner, it is always a nice way for the family to share old embarrassing stories of each other’s past.
However, if you are like me, and your parents don’t like to set aside their differences and instead split the holiday into 2, or you not only have to spend the holiday with each parent but also your in-laws, you could be looking up to a possible of 4 Thanksgivings. That’s a lot of turkey and pie!
But hey, join the club and let me introduce you to the fine arts of splitting the holidays: double the food, double the stories and double the size of your pants.
It’s the third Thursday of November, which means its turkey day. You wake up already thankful that you don’t have school then you hear the banging’s and shuffling going on in the kitchen, your mom is already stressing trying to make everything for the dinner. You decide to help the poor soul. Later, it’s time for your preparation time. Of course, your stuck deciding between nice and elegant clothing or just wearing your sweatpants so you don’t have to worry about the food baby you will soon develop… you bring both, since you all ready know the outcome of tonight.
You start today with celebrating with your opposite parent, the parent that you don’t live with, in this case my dad. Now your opposite parent might not have everything together, depending on how fresh the divorce is. At the first Thanksgiving dinner I had with my dad, we had to use a beer pong table to lay the food on and sit in the living room either on a chair, couch, or floor. We learned after that and we now bring food over to my eldest brother’s house where a bit of normalcy if fulfilled. All your favorites are there and even some new foods that you wouldn’t think of as a good idea but somehow make it work due to the fact that this isn’t a typical Thanksgiving. Food is ate, jokes are said, stories are shared and games have been played. Not one slice of pie is left over as you are all gathered together and watching one of your dad’s favorite movies. Hours pass, it’s time to move on. They never kid about how the first time is the hardest, and it was definitely hard saying goodbye to my dad knowing that he was just going to go back to his empty house while you go celebrate with the other half of your family. There are definite ups and downs to two Thanksgivings, this is one of them.
The atmosphere instantly changes as you enter your grandma’s house for round two. It’s around 7 p.m. and the only thing they are waiting for is you and your siblings, and the jokes already start rolling in as you cross the barrier from the outside world. Everything is nice and you say hi, along with all the other pleasantries, then all of a sudden, you hear the world called “Foods ready! Come get it!” it’s a free for all as cousins, siblings, parents and grandparents all rush to get food. You barely make it out alive.
You make your way to the practically assigned spot you had since birth. Grandpa sits at the head of the table with Grandma on his right side, Tio is sitting at the opposite head to the table. Parents on the left and children on the right, it’s very mafia like but between respect and tradition, we’re used to it. We say a prayer to bless the food along with each other and say what we are grateful for before we are allowed to touch our food quietly ending in and “Amen” while making the sign of the cross. Those who waited hours to eat dig in as the others slowly pick at their food trying to get their previous meal to digest faster before grandma complains about how you’re not eating enough and questions if it’s because you don’t like her cooking. It’s never grandma’s cooking, Grandma’s cooking is almost God like. I don’t care if you’ve had a hundred meals that day, don’t disrespect Grandma by not eating her food, and find any way you can to shove that food into mouth. She’s pleased, and you start paying attention to the stories filling the room. The best one’s always occur when people are a few drinks in and Grandpa is so full that he just can’t hold anything back about when he was young and he met my grandma. Truly a cute wrong side of the tracks romance story, but freaking hilarious as your drunk perverted grandparents try to explain the situations and features of each other using creative and descriptive hand gestures. It was amazing and I recommend everyone should try to get their grandparents drunk and ask them how they met.
Hours pass with laughter and the sounds of forks hitting plates, stomachs are once again full and everyone is winding down. The return of the food baby, the bulging of the stomach that occurs when you are so full that it looks like you are pregnant, make you fully aware that there is no possible room in your stomach, until of course someone brings out the pie and raise your hand for a slice. There is no judgement of turkey day, after all isn’t that’s what the sweatpants are for?
The night comes to an end exactly like the first, with games and movies. You pack the leftovers you desire and start making your rounds around the house and say goodbye.
You see there are many types of Thanksgivings and whether conventional or not, it doesn’t matter. The point is that those who you are with love you dearly and those who couldn’t make it are greatly missed. The point of Thanksgiving isn’t the food or the forced smiles, it’s about understanding where you come from and recognizing where you are today. Every year we learn something new, whether we wanted to or not, but we are still here and we have this new found knowledge and the support of your family to lead you in to the new upcoming year. Yes, the origins of this holiday are terribly disturbing but we have learned from the pilgrims mistakes. Not to get all cheesy, but kindness and forgiveness should always be present at the dinner table, even if for one night. Forgive others for what they have done and forgive yourself for the things you have done, you were a different person then, every day you are new. So be kind, laugh and enjoy each other’s company for as long as you can, and remember that the love at the dinner table, no matter which one, is always filled with eternal love.