I like Thanksgiving, it’s alright. It’s not my favorite, but it’s up there.
I think it’s kind of a lost holiday though. It’s smack dab in the middle of Halloween and Christmas. The two most exciting holidays. It doesn’t really have decorations. There are no presents and not really any treats (or it has all the treats, you decide), though it does get credit for an entire defined menu.
To me Thanksgiving is really all about family. Yeah, yeah, I hear your Pilgrims and Indians speech. But family, all together, all in one place for the day is something extra special.
We always spend Thanksgiving with my Mafia family (Mom’s side). My Mafia family is rather large, and every year for Thanksgiving we rent a hall. It has a full commercial kitchen, a large eating/serving/visiting room (the main hall, I’m sure the visual is riveting), and a lounge with couches and a tv for watching football, or just relaxing. There are between 30 and 50 of us, depending on the year, and who all brings friends. One year we had 8 army men join us, the troop of one of my cousin in laws, and we usually bring Mary, she’s been adopted in for sure. There’s often a new boyfriend or girlfriend present. We were blessed to have our friends Maury and Donna join us this year.
Arrivals start around noon, especially if you’re in charge of a Turkey and want to cook it at the hall. This year we had three, but there have been as many as five turkeys. My Rooster deep fried one this year, it was delicious, he’s proud, I’m sure. My many apologies for not taking a picture.
There is always a level of joviality, and there is often something inappropriate. Exhibit A, this year’s inappropriate item, the turkey with full boobs.
Exhibit B- Last year’s Turkey Cupcakes
Both courtesy of cousin Jenny (I love it).
As people arrive and greet each other warmly we all settle in, some look at the Black Friday ads, some hang around the kitchen and visit, some watch football; most of the rest have a seat at the poker table, where lots of Screw Your Neighbor commences, as well as gratuitous drinking of beer, wine, eggnog or shots, and copious amounts of deviled eggs and cheese log are passed around. The children run amok in their party dresses and clip on ties (this year in circles around the dining tables). It lasts right up to prayers.
We all gather in a lopsided circle holding hands. Someone, my Dad the past few years, makes a speech about how lucky we all are to have enjoyed good health and prosperity over the past year, and how thankful we are for new members and guests. Sometimes we all say something we are thankful for, but that tends to get long.
Then the masses pray. “Bless us oh Lord, for these thy gifts” (we are deeply Mafia Catholic), and proceed to devour the buffet of everything Thanksgiving, from gigantic bowls, platters and roasters. It’s really quite the sight, and the only quiet time of the day.
Dessert follows, with every kind of pie (apple, pumpkin, peanut butter and pecan this year) and usually some cupcakes (See Exhibit B above). This year dessert also had a live show, Isaac got Josh good with a whipped cream pie to the the face. Josh kindly shared that whipped cream with three or four short, but loving, hugs around the room. He took it like the champion that he is, I would have expected no less.
When it’s all over, we draw names for Christmas, play a few more hands of cards and everyone packs leftovers in their previously concealed to go containers.
By that time we are all full, we have visited and joked and hugged. Several people are many bucks richer, after success in cards. Everyone is full of both food and love. We clean up the hall en masse, it doesn’t take long. We all head home, tired and full, many more hugs and kisses happen between the hall back door and the cars.
I’ve shared with you my Thanksgiving, not to brag about how great my world is.
(When it comes to family though, I am proud, and they are great.)
I wanted you to know what the Thanksgiving holiday means to me. To me it’s a designated day to give thanks for family, and it’s a day to acknowledge the verification of the support network that I share DNA with. There is not a single member of my Mafia family (or my Leprechaun family for that matter), that will not go to bat for me, or any other person in that room. I know this with all of my heart. God help the bad guys that ever decide to mess with me. It’s nice to have all that power in one space, all that love, all of that comfort and warmth. It is so nice to be reminded that I am loved and of the extent to which I love all of them. I really hope that you can do the same.
The weekend continues with Mom and Sisters Black Friday shopping, and new this year the first annual Donohue 6 Thanksgiving, a small (there are 14 of us now) immediate family Thanksgiving celebration. All of which still contained that same love and wonderment (no gambling, more on the crafting tip). It contained the same rituals and the same food, although we did all say what we are thankful for (I think someone small said butter), and it was wonderful too.
I don’t spend as much time with my parents, siblings and nieces and nephews as I would like. They are all so smart, imaginative, crazy and fun. Their personalities are each uniquely outrageous. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Let’s just say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, in any case.
I guess to me Thanksgiving is better than alright, it’s Great!
Next year I will do better at expressing my love for this holiday. I’m going to have to get a blow up Turkey for the yard. I might even put everyone’s head on a stick in the yard to show my love and appreciation. That could be creepy enough to put out for Halloween and leave out for Thanksgiving. It’s just an idea.
Oh yeah, the moral…. it’s pretty self contained, but if I were to summarize……
I beg you to reach out to your family if they are estranged or far away, love the ones that are close to you, choose to not just eat up your Thanksgiving, but make it about eating up your family (not literally crazies), soak up that love and laughter and hand it right back to them. They are yours alone. Appreciate them all for who they are.
And if you don’t have family to celebrate with, celebrate with friends and the loved ones that you consider family, reach out. Forge that bond, re-forge the bond, forge a new bond.
Yes, I realize that Thanksgiving has now passed for this year, but you have another chance. Christmas is right around the corner. It’s the same thing, but with presents, lights and Santa. Get a move on.