We have so much to be thankful for. That’s never been more apparent than this past Thanksgiving, when we had not just one, but two different feasts with our church and biological families.
Usually, we trek home to upstate New York for Thanksgiving. But as it takes us close to 10 hours to get there and we’re going home for Christmas, we had no desire to make that drive twice in a month. Plus, a quirk of bad work scheduling means that I am traveling the first two weeks of December.
Instead, this year our parents came to us. I’m an only child, so it was simple for my mom and dad. For Chris’s parents, it was a bit more complicated – his sister lives in Las Vegas. As they couldn’t be on two coasts simultaneously, we delayed our Thanksgiving until Saturday.
Nonetheless, we carried out some Thanksgiving traditions on Thursday. Chris baked off Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, a treat his family has every holiday. We plopped on the couch for the Macy’s parade, which enthralled Sprout. He grooved to the Broadway numbers, tried to lift his leg like the Rockettes, “toot toot”ed at the Thomas the Train balloon, and loved the Sesame Street float.
With the afternoon free, we joined our church’s Thanksgiving dinner. We have one every year for congregants who aren’t leaving town, along with any family or friends they bring. This year, it was Chris, Sprout and I, my parents, another couple from our church with a small child, my pastor and his family, and one of my pastor’s homeless friends. The table was full of conversation and laughter. One of the more amusing incidents was my pastor’s son describing an imaginary Blue’s Clues parody that involved Blue rabidly attacking the videocamera and Steve using Slippery Soap to take a shower. While it was pretty funny, his dad shut it down before it got even longer and more inappropriate.
After dinner, several of us participated in the nerd-traditional post-meal activity of playing video games, namely an eight-person game of Super Smash Brothers. I couldn’t figure out where my character was half of the time, but it was a lot of fun. While the babies couldn’t play, they kept busy building towers out of Megablocks. Later on, we put them on the piano bench and they played the cutest little duet I’ve ever seen. While it sounded like a modernist sound piece, they were tapping on the keys rather than banging, which was impressive for a couple of toddlers.
That night, we pulled out the board and card games. After a couple games, my dad headed to bed while Chris, my mom, and I stayed up with a bottle of red wine. Although I had earlier insisted that six bottles of wine was too much for the weekend, I was clearly wrong. A couple of glasses each fueled a conversation about drunken escapades, poorly thought-out decisions, and other quirks of adulthood that was so engaging that we completely lost track of our game of 500 Rummy.
My in-laws arrived on Friday night, making the party complete. I’m extraordinarily fortunate to have a great relationship with them. As Chris and I were high-school sweethearts, I basically grew up with them.
Despite all of the company, I was relaxed. While I sometimes get defensive when visitors help with the dishes or clean my house, I accepted the assistance. As the grandparents adored playing with Sprout, I was happy to give them that time. At work, I’ve been sprinting from one project to another, so it was good to physically and mentally rest.
Thanksgiving dinner was similarly lacking in disaster. The menu was fairly traditional – turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, canned cranberry sauce (with ridges, of course), Crescent rolls, green beans, corn, and carrots. As it was the first Thanksgiving we ever hosted, we made some compromises – my family’s sweet potato casserole instead of his apples and yams, his canned cranberry sauce instead of my cranberry jello mold. We made about a million trips to the store and ran the dishwasher about 10 times, but that happens any time Chris takes on a big cooking project. The only thing that didn’t go quite according to plan was that for all of our existing kitchen equipment, we had to buy a turkey baster after the bird already went in the oven.
We even had time for some family activities. Heading over to the park, we found out that Sprout is very interested in basketball but tragically a little too short to play it yet. Our park has a “funnel ball” game, where you toss a ball up into a big funnel and it falls out of one of three holes. The adults were playing it, although we weren’t very good at actually getting it in the hoop. After watching us, Sprout took his ball, walked up to the pole supporting the funnel, stood up on his tip-toes, and threw it as hard as he could. Which was about three inches. And then he did it again and again. He was convinced that if he just tried hard enough, he would get it in. When we lifted him up to help him out, he was just pissed that he was still too short to get it in the funnel. He finally got so frustrated that we had to move on to a different part of the playground to prevent a full-blown tantrum. I had to admire his can-do spirit though.
The last day, we went to the National Zoo to see their Christmas light display. Needless to say, it was far more successful than our last trip there. While many of the exhibits were closing when we arrived, we saw some animals who are often hiding in the heat. Sprout watched the furry beaver intently as it ambled along and then splashed into the water. As he woofed at the wolf, it sulked by and then cast an intense gaze on him. He also liked the farm animals, especially the huge Holstein cow who had an astoundingly low moo. But his favorite part was the holiday train display, where he just stared at the three levels of trains going around and around and around for a good ten minutes.
I’m so grateful that I could spend the holidays with so many people who are both weird and wonderful.