Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving has always been a traditional holiday in my house. From the time I was little, it was the day when the family gathered around the table. When I grew up and got married, I still tried to make it back home for this special day with my family. If I wasn't able to, we often spent the day with a friend's family or I made Thanksgiving dinner at home and we invited friends. The tradition continues to this day.
Now that I'm in South Georgia, my mom and my step-dad make a special trip down from Illinois for Thanksgiving. They usually celebrate an early Thanksgiving with my brothers and their families in Illinois and then drive down for the holiday. This year was no different.
While many people don't like the hassle of preparing the turkey and all the fixings and desserts necessary for a proper Thanksgiving feast, that is as much a part of the tradition of the day for me as having the football games on TV. The parade--eh, I can take or leave that. So this year, my mother and I buzzed in and out of the kitchen between tasks and watching the Lions and Packers on the gridiron. My son and his grandfather kept themselves busy while we prepped dishes and cooked. It was a happy house and I was mentally counting my blessings because I knew there were others who couldn't be with their families and many who are much less fortunate than I am.
Finally, the table was set, the candles were lit, the turkey was carved and we sat down to enjoy the meal . . .
It was at this moment that my 8 year-old son decided to loose any and all frustration that he had been storing up inside unbeknownst to we innocent bystanders. A meltdown like we haven't witnessed in years took place over the selection of deviled eggs. Or perhaps it was the sight of stuffing ("That looks GROSS!") on his plate that set him off. Whatever the cause, he refused to talk to anyone and stared at the flickering flames of the candle in the center of the table.
My mother, frustrated and tired of watching this ridiculous tantrum, promptly blew out the candles--only exacerbating the problem. Tears ensued. My mother announced that she had reached the end of her patience (quite a feat considering that she's a retired Methodist minister) and that she didn't feel a need to sit at the table while my son showed that behavior. She took her plate and went upstairs to finish her meal.
Of course, that only made the boy cry more. He stomped upstairs to his own room, sobbing uncontrollably, leaving a plate of uneaten food behind.
My stepfather and I sat across from each other at the table and shared a look of pure disbelief, then finished a delicious, but very quiet meal. Happy Thanksgiving.
My mother came down after she finished her dinner and set about cleaning the kitchen. My son eventually made amends as well, slipping me, my mother, and my stepfather handmade cards saying, "I'm so sorry, Love Declan P.S. for t[h]rowing a fit." Plenty of hugs were exchanged over pumpkin pie and whipped cream and all was once again right with the world.
The following day we strolled in the Village doing touristy things and decided to stop into Brogen's at the pier for lunch. We were all seated around the table chatting happily and enjoying our food, when my mom remarked, "This is what it should have been like yesterday!" I agreed and proclaimed the Brogen's meal to be our true "Thanksgiving" dinner.
This is what happens when a real family gets together. And stories like these are the ones that make up holiday memories. It might be more like Funny Farm or A Christmas Story than Norman Rockwell perfection, but the good, the bad, the ugly--this is what family is all about, and it is something for which I am so very thankful.