I value the traditions we have around the end of the year but some traditions are set in stone and some are a bit more fluid. We have burgers and fireworks for the Fourth of July, a tree and egg nog for Christmas and a turkey with cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.
Good conversation, delectable smells and the laid back mood make Thanksgiving one of my favorite meals of the year. I will always have warm feelings about this day.
The planning for Thanksgiving starts shortly after Halloween. Who has the folding chairs? Who is going to bring which dish? My wife and I always bring the turkey and she selects one of the largest ones she can find. She starts thawing it ahead of time so it will be ready for roasting.Then early Thanksgiving my wife starts the long process of cooking the bird soit will be ready for meal time.
We have three generations of Rugs that show up for this holiday. The younger grandchildren shrieking and running is the first sign that the guests have arrived and everyone is greeted at the door by these family members.
With my whole family comfortably gathered around, I can’t help but feel content. The relaxing noise of a house filled with the people I love mingles with the sound of a video game and I can’t think of anything that I would rather hear.
My Daughter’s home is airy, with a large island where she would lay out the appetizers. We used to have a seafood tradition where I would buy shrimp, clams, smoked salmon etc. that we would lay out before dinner along with chips, dips, salsas, pickles, etc. Honestly you could make a meal from the appetizers. I had to quit buying the seafood however as it got too expensive to buy crab legs for a dozen people.
Once the cooking starts, the kitchen seems a bit cramped though, like working on a food truck. The delicious smell of a turkey roasting fills the house with delicious aromas. It’s all worth it though when the aroma of the Brussels sprouts roasting in the oven waft out to fill the house in yet another delightful smell. From the timemy wife starts cooking the turkey until the satisfaction of that last bite,when I am too full to move, Thanksgiving never fails to fulfill my expectations.
When the large assortment of dishes is finally cooked and put on the dining room table, we all sit down and it’s time to dig in to a family style meal. My daughter serves up the best corn dish ever created. It’s creamy, with a smooth texture but she serves many, many more delectable concoctions.But every dish is better than the last and to just sample every dish on the table fills your plate. You need a side plate to hold your dinner roll.
Dinner conversations are lively, with hilarious jokes that have me laughing so hard my eyes are tearing and stories that often revolve around my children’s childhood. The conversations around the table are refreshing change from the chaos of everyday life. When my whole family is at my daughter’s house, we have to split the family into the adult’s table and the kid’s table. This is a poor description though, considering some of my grandchildren are all grown up and living by themselves. In fact one year I ate at the kid’s table and I am the oldest family member, the patriarch of this motley crew.
I promise myself each year that I’m not going to eat too much but it always happens. Just when you have had to open your belt a hole or two and you think you are done, the table gets cleared and the homemade desserts come out. There are usually three to choose from and you have just small piece of each one so you won’t have to unbutton your pants. Every year I feel as if I could just make it to the couch and take a nap, I would be fine.
Once dinner was over we would go back to the living room to watch some grade B horror movies. We used to have a competition to see who can find the worst movie. My son won one year with a movie called “bad taste“. Talk about truth in advertising. Unfortunately this tradition had to change the year that a movie depicted a head rolling across the floor and my grandson took off saying “I’m outta here “.
The hours of work preparing the food are always worth being able to share a meal with others and with all the wonderful people in my family, it’s impossible not to have an enjoyable time. With its easygoing,laid back attitude, Thanksgiving almost tops Christmas as my favorite holiday of the year.
The comfortable attitude is infectious, and for a time we can all forget our worries over a cup of steaming hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows.
From my family to yours, have a happy Thanksgiving.
Note: This article has also appeared in The Union Sun and Journal, Buffalo Rising, The Buffalo Chronicle and Art Voice.