Our family has two Thanksgiving traditions.
For us, it’s not about the food. We don’t have someone get up at 3:00 am to put the turkey in the oven and set the timer for the hourly check -and-baste. We don’t fill our refrigerator with all the fixing for mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, spoon cornbread, and cranberries. We don’t stock our pantry with all the flour and sugar we need to create fresh baked rolls, stuffing, and pumpkin pies.
In fact, no one does a thing for Thanksgiving Day. We are too busy with our other two traditions.
On Thanksgiving Morning, the entire family arrives at our house at 8:00 am. Everyone–1 month to 101–pulls on their hats and mittens, their snowpants and jackets. They wrap their scarves in a criss cross pattern over their jackets, and somone pulls the frozen turkey out of the freezer.
Then, Uncle Rob, the tallest and the oldest of my mom’s brothers and sisters, hefts it on his shoulder and he marches it out to the backyard. We all follow in a parade. Cousins, aunts, and uncles. Even Grandpa follows. He used to be the honored one who carried the turkey until his knees forced him into a wheelchair. Now, he is the honorary turkey holder. Which means he is right behind Uncle Rob.
Once outside, our family creates a large ring. Uncle Rob sets the turkey in the center of the ring. And the youngest cousins’ duties are called upon. Kimberly, Kevin, and Parker are all three. And Maggie is a baby. Each holding a stick of butter, they slime it all over the turkey. Maggie especially likes it–but Aunt Anna stops her before she can eat the whole thing. Once every bit of the butter has been slathered over the bird, the cousins march back to the ring.
We all join in.
“9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1”
And we hear Grandpa’s whistle and the mob meets in the middle dashing at the turkey. Becca gets to the turkey first, and she throws herself over the top. Unfortunately, as the pile-up begins, Becca just slides right off. Uncle Rob with his long arms reaches into the chaos and grabs for the prize. Just as he thinks he has a hold on it, it slips from his fingers and bounces onto Kevin’s head.
Kevin starts wailing and Aunt Bethie is preoccupied with comforting her son. Two down! Eleven more to go.
Becca jumps on top of Uncle Rob and pulls his hat over his head. Still holding onto his hat, she scrambles onto his shoulders and won’t let go of his covered face.
Two more down! Only nine to go.
The turkey is with in my reach, but I know I must be careful.
Becca looks at me from atop Uncle Rob and nods.
“Watch out, Maggie! Aunt Anna!” Instead of grabbing for the turkey, I grab Maggie and lift her out of the pile-up. She looks perplexed as she is in no danger. Continuing with the ploy, I hand her over to Aunt Anna. Aunt Anna hugs her close and walks her back to the porch to sit with Grandpa out of danger.
Two more down. We are almost there.
Becca and I had been planning our strategy all year long staying up late at night creating the best game plan. So far everything is going as planned. Our wild cards are Kimberly and Parker. You just can’t trust three year olds to play their part convincingly.
Without warning, Jacob, who is six, runs into a tree. When he pulls back from the tree, his nose is bleeding.
“Jacob!” My mom screams. Uncle Will runs over to his son with Mom and Dad following behind. Parker is looking on to make sure his brother is okay.
Kimberly and I race to the turkey. Between the two of us, we pick it up and hobble to the porch. Since it’s greased, it keeps falling out of our arms. Then, I remember our scarves. We stop for a moment to readjust. I lay myself on my back in the snow and hold the turkey.
“Pull me, Kimberly!”
She takes my arm and I push off with my feet. We are almost to the porch when I look up. I see my dad chasing after us and is gaining on us. Parker is right behind him trying to stop him. But it’s futile. Just as Dad is about to grab the turkey out of my arms, Parker screams, my head hits the porch, and Grandpa yells, “Winner!!”
Then, I remember Parker’s scream. I race over to Dad and Parker.
“Is everything okay?” I ask.
“You bet, Micah!” Parker says with a grin. “I stopped Uncle Dave, didn’t I?”
I grin back.
Everyone traipses back into our house to clean up, and as soon as we are ready, our horde drives downtown to our second of our Thanksgiving traditions–the Union Gospel Mission–to serve their Thanksgiving dinner.
It’s the perfect Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving from Family Fun Twin Cities