Impossible to believe that it's nearly Thanksgiving. Seems like the summer just happened, and now we're onto the holiday season, which is being crammed down our throats earlier and earlier by all the TV channels showing holiday movies practically the day after Halloween. I'm still hanging on to a bit of the summer and hoping for one more 90 degree day at the beach and not having to wear three shirts and a heavy jacket inside the house.
Thanksgiving wasn't too much of a big deal in my family because we were together so often, it was just another meal except on a weekday, and we didn't have to go to school the next day. We came, we ate, we argued, we ate dessert and then we left, if it wasn't being called Thanksgiving, It would be called Sunday dinner.
Thanksgiving Day was usually a comedy of errors onto itself. My mother would be trying to drag us out the door to my Aunt Mame's without losing her mind. My father would start a fight three seconds before we'd get out of the driveway and threaten to stay behind. I would fall asleep in the car and wake up as we got to my Aunt's house, and my mother would say through gritted teeth, "We're going to get through this dinner in one piece, or so help you next year you'll be eating pizza for Thanksgiving!" We'd slap fake smiles on and walk into the house which never worked because my aunt would notice immediately that something had gone down, but she never let on. It would like feeding into it.
After the greetings came, I'd go look for my Uncle, The Godfather, watching TV. It was the same question every year, no matter how old I got, "Have you been behaving this year?" -- which didn't make sense since we just saw each other the previous weekend. But of course, I answered, "Nope." He'd pat me on the head, and I'd go back out to the kitchen to watch my mother and Aunt argue over when to put the bird on the table. The funniest part of their argument would be the fact they would be yelling with smiles on their faces like it was nothing.
I'd have my own little Thanksgiving tradition, after the usual football game: I'd watch a Muppet movie marathon or when I was a teenager, Party of Five, I would become like a zombie and The Godfather would come in and have to shake me to say it was time for dinner. One year I refused to give up the remote to my cousin, and while trying to play keep-away while he tickled me, I fell off the couch and sprayed Orange Crush all over the couch.
Because I was the only kid, it never made sense to have a kid's table so I sat up right and center, and I loved every second of it. I never said a word: I couldn't, and I was afraid if I did, I'd miss something. For a lot of years when we'd sit down to eat, I'd have Mac and Cheese because I didn't like turkey and would refuse to eat it until my cousin threatened to jam a turkey leg down my throat if I didn't agree to at least taste it.
Most families would say grace or what they were thankful for, we never did that because we were already so grateful anyway for another year together, after so much loss we'd experienced from past years that words were kind of useless. After the food was put on the table, it would be silent for five minutes until someone would break it by asking for something.
Every year, My Aunt Mame and I would take a bet on what time my father would fall asleep, because it was like putting a toddler down for his nap as soon as dinner was over and he wouldn't say anything, He'd just get up and We'd find him out cold in a chair and then as soon as the magic word, "dessert," was said, he'd snap awake.
It seemed to me as soon as we were done eating, all the women would move into the kitchen, and then it was like a secret coven. Voices would drop, chattering would start and literally as soon as my father or the Godfather walked in, the silent signal was shot across the room and everyone shut up.
Although we had spent all day together, it didn't feel like it. Time had just sped by and when it was time to leave, I'd be sad because I knew, although we'd see each other about a 100 times before Christmas, it still felt like it would be a thousand years until then.
Times have changed, and we don't have the same traditions anymore. There's no secret meetings of the women in the kitchen, my father usually falls asleep during Thanksgiving, and I am miserable during the whole thing because I miss the traditions we had, despite all the arguing and craziness.
What were your traditions growing up as a kid? Was yours peaceful or crazy like mine?