by Bethany Maines
I’ve been enjoying this week of Thanksgiving reflections on the Stiletto Gang. Each one reminds me of my own family and all the little moments that go along with holidays.
My grandmother’s unstoppable attraction to returning to the kitchen just as we were about to pray.
“Mama, sit down! We can’t eat the meal until you sit down!”
“Well, yes, but just one more thing…”
Grandpa hacking up the turkey with the electric carving knife, which gave way to Dad eyeballing the turkey with suspicion and frustration as the perfect cut always eludes him. Until last year when my thirteen year old cousin arrived fresh from watching the cooking channel.
“Well, first you cut off the drumsticks and then you cut here, here and here.”
“You know, it sounds like you’ve got a real plan. Why don’t you try it? I’ll help steady the bird.”
My cousins eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, and we all admitted that his cutting job was pretty darn good.
My German cousins confusion about the fact that my mom makes an entire pan of stuffing (we all eat too much of it to make it in the turkey) and the fact that we’d never noticed that this invalidated the basic premise of stuffing until she pointed it out.
“Yes, but what is it?”
“But it’s not been in the bird?”
“Oh. Um… I guess it’s not stuffing. It’s stuffing type stuff.”
The year my mom spontaneously invited the boy I had barely started seeing to Thanksgiving. I really should have known better than to bring him by the house.
“But mom, that was only our second date!”
“But he doesn’t have anywhere to go! And he’s from Virginia.”
Since Grandma was born in Virginia that meant it would the height of rudeness to turn him away, since clearly he was practically family. The Virginia argument invalidated all other arguments.
The mad scramble every year to draw names for Christmas gifts and the year we all managed to forget, so my cousin and I became the designated pickers.
“Aren’t we going to draw names?”
“Well, your aunt and uncle just left, and I think Grandma’s asleep. So I guess not.”
“We should use a random number generator and just assign everyone.”
“Great, I’ll get some paper and a pen.”
That worked out quite well for me because I “randomly” managed to assign myself one of the family’s better bakers and got an entire plateful ginger molasses cookies. She who does the picking gets to pick – just saying.
Each Thanksgiving has the same soothing routine of football and turkey and wishing I’d worn pants with an elastic waist. But each Thanksgiving is also different as we give thanks for the new babies and the new spouses and remember the relatives that are no longer with us. The tradition connects us with those who have gone before us and I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.