The holiday season is nearly in full swing, and I could not be happier. The cheerful, crisp autumn march from Halloween to New Year’s is my favorite time of the year. While Christmas has always been the main event for me, Thanksgiving runs a close second. It’s hard to beat a holiday devoted to family and food and togetherness, even if the Black Friday shopping extravaganza that follows is more than a little frightening.
Halloween costumes come and go, and every Christmas Eve is different, but Thanksgiving traditions are a reliable stand-by, at least in the Weeks family. Whether we have a traditional old-fashioned dinner at our relatives’ in upstate New York, a huge extended family affair at my aunt’s, or a quiet and simple holiday at home, there are some things that have stayed with us through the years. For example: In keeping with my carnivorous nature, I am always the recipient of one of the turkey drumsticks. I have yet to finish an entire leg in one sitting, but I have made a valiant effort since childhood, preferring the dark smoky meat to the drier white that everyone else seems to favor.
Best of all, though, are the desserts. For as long as I can remember, we have always had three pies for Thanksgiving: apple, pecan, and pumpkin. Mom rolls out her top-secret pie crust recipe and whips together the apple filling, my little sister Amanda does pumpkin, and I am in charge of pecan. That’s the way it’s been forever and ever, and that’s the way I hope it stays.
Even the Thanksgiving when everything went wrong turned out all right in the end. It was sometime during my middle school years, and my grandparents were coming over to our house that year. I had yet again created the annual pecan pie, but I hadn’t realized an air bubble had been trapped inside. Whilst in the oven, the bubble exploded and sent pie filling everywhere — namely, onto the oven’s heating element, and a pie-fire ensued.
On top of that, we also discovered that my sister Amanda had neglected to put eggs in her pumpkin pie, so in addition to our pile of flaming pecans, we also had a pool of pumpkiny custardy goop.
Once the flames had died down, it was back to the grocery store to retrieve more last-minute ingredients for our desserts. (What is Thanksgiving, after all, without pecan and pumpkin pies?) Our second baking attempt went off without a hitch. Our grandparents arrived on Thanksgiving Day, and until dinnertime, we watched the Macy’s parade on TV, oohed and ahhed over photo albums, and relaxed while Mom and Dad put the final touches on the turkey and side dishes. With a little time still left before the meal, Amanda and I went down to the basement to play with our dog Maxie — and that’s when we noticed the large quantities of water pouring from the ceiling.
Shrieking, we barreled back up the stairs to alert our parents, who soon discovered that our now-suddenly-broken freezer was defrosting itself all over the linoleum and through the floor. It was a family effort to sop up the kitchen and basement before we could have our dinner.
The Weekses had braved flood and fire that year, but we still got to scarf down our dinner. And I still got my turkey drumstick.
This year’s Thanksgiving, while hopefully not quite as eventful as the year of Unholy Kitchen Havoc, will have special importance: It is the very first one that my husband and I will spend together. As if that weren’t enough of a cause for thanks, the holiday also happens to fall just three days after we go to settlement on our first home.
The minute we stepped foot in this little blue rambler, I knew it would be ours. It didn’t hurt, of course, that the first bookcase-filled room that I saw sent the inner bibliophile in me quivering. Everything else about the house was just right, too: A gorgeous kitchen that made me gasp out loud in joy, well-kept hardwood floors, a sleepy little front porch just begging for a rocking chair, plenty of space and rooms, not too far a commute for either of us, and almost a full acre of yard for the dog that we plan to own someday. Better still, Hubby and I actually agreed on it right away, which never happens when it comes to real estate. Best of all, we could afford it, and the seller accepted the offer that we placed just a few days later.
So we will become bona-fide homeowners the week of Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, we’ll be shunning the mall in favor of painting rooms various shades of blues and greens and caramels. Soon, the gorgeous Amish dining room table set that my parents ordered for us will arrive, making our dining room complete and hopefully becoming a part of many Thanksgiving memories to come — when families and friends gather at our place and we have children of our own and new traditions to follow.
All I’ll have to do is learn how to cook a turkey. I’m calling it now — the drumstick is mine.