Mashed potatoes? Check.
Pumpkin pie? Check.
Yes...it's Thanksgiving again!
Even though there are many different harvest festivals throughout the world, Thanksgiving is a uniquely American tradition. The story that we are taught as kids in the U.S. is that the first Thanksgiving was a three-day harvest celebration that took place in Massachusetts in November of 1621. It was organized by colonists who were living in the area and they invited the local Wapanoag tribe of native Americans to join them. It is believed that the colonists may have served turkey during the celebration. Thanksgiving day was made a national holiday in 1863 during the U.S. civil war by then President Abraham Lincoln who decided that the nation needed a day of thanks. Since then, it's turned into the start of a four-day weekend that begins with gorging on food and ends with gorging on consumerism. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, now marks the the start of the Christmas season and is one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Unfortunately, I really don't know a lot about that history or shopping stuff. All I know is that it is the only day when my extended family gets together. The way my family celebrates Thanksgiving has changed some over the years. We used to meet up at my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Tom's house where, in some years, everyone would stay the entire weekend. I can't imagine doing that now but it was fun at the time. For the past twenty years our Thanksgiving has been held in a few different places but for the better part of the last decade we've had dinner at my cousin Mike and wife Karen's house. This year, however, they were remodeling their kitchen so we went to my cousin Robin and husband John's house.
Each year the program is basically the same. We hang out in the basement and/or in the kitchen eating appetizers, drinking adult beverages made by my Uncle Tom, and catching up with each other's lives.
Because I've lived so far away for so long, it's great for me to get to see so many people that I love in one place at one time.
Can you feel the family love yet?
Also, because the members of my family are very successful breeders, there's always an opportunity to be someone new's favorite uncle.
At about the time when everyone is completely stuffed from eating bacon-wrapped snacks, nachos, veggies with dip, and about 100 other appetizers, dinner is served. This year we did it buffet style.
We used to have very strict family traditions and rules (seriously) about who could sit at each table. We had a table for the "elders" (again, seriously), the adult's table, and finally the kid's table. With each passing year, if you were lucky, you'd graduate up to the next table in the hierarchy. Seats would open up as people passed away or worse, if someone missed a Thanksgiving. Not attending a family Thanksgiving for whatever reason, including a hospital stay or other uncontrolled event, would send you back the the next lower table Chutes And Ladders style. Even though they're cute, they're at the kids' table and will be for a looooong time:
I'm not sure what my brother did wrong this past year but here he is at the (other) kids' table:
Because I've missed so many Thanksgivings, I'm hopelessly out of the running for getting close to the adults' table much less ever getting to sit there. I managed to purchase this candid photo of some of the adults this year:
From what I've found online, the average American consumes at least 3,000 calories eating Thanksgiving dinner with the total for the day being over 4,500. I know that I did my part trying to achieve these milestone numbers. Just when I was just about to fall into a food coma from overeating, dessert was served. This year's evil dessert? Pumpkin pie cheesecake. Yep. Had a piece of that.
Christmas is by far my favorite holiday but Thanksgiving is easily my favorite day of the year. I'm reminded, yet again, how lucky I am to have such a great family and life. I can't wait until my next Thanksgiving with the family!