Thanksgiving, or FAMILY GLADIATORS

Part Deux of why Fall is a godsend and you should cherish it is always going to be Thanksgiving.  To be perfectly honest, I do not have any real heartwarming memories for Thanksgiving or funny stories to tell.  But I do know that Thanksgiving pretty much goes through the same formula every single year.  This will be the second year that I am not there to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family back in Chicago because I am in London.  And in this tea-drinking society, they don’t have anything to be thankful for, but they do give themselves a third Christmas day known as, “Boxing Day.”  And Boxing Day is… the dumbest thing I have ever heard of so, I will not waste your time with it (AMURRICAHHH!).

Anyway, back to the formula. This might only be with my family because 1. we are all very Italian-American which causes us all to 2. want to talk over one another, causing 3. nothing to ever actually be heard.  It’s really just the sound of white noise with the words anti pasta, mozzarella, or just try it! coming in and out of frequency.  With my family, everyone plays their part.  And every year, without fail, they will do what they are set out to do.  So I will try to break down a usual Thanksgiving in our family:

Who will host:  With any holiday, my grandmother usually takes charge.  Especially if there is eating involved.  Dinner at my grandmother’s house is like a marathon.  You have to pace yourself, but once you hit mile 23, you just want to let your body lose all control over itself.  So you would expect that the quintessential holiday for stuffing your face would be at her house.  But our grandma hosts Fourth of July, Easter, Christmas, every Friday and Sunday night dinner, my birthday, your birthday, Arbor Day, any holiday that you might want to eat something to celebrate.  But Thanksgiving is given to my aunt.  And she does it every year to give Grandma a break.  But it really doesn’t matter because Grandma is just going to bring four dishes and six pies anyway.  So she is still “slaving away” in her kitchen.

And every year my aunt tries to out-do herself with centerpieces and the “special moment” of what makes Thanksgiving what it is.  Being thankful.  And I love being thankful.  I am thankful every day for my family, the support they give me, the love they throw at me, and the opportunities given to me.  I am thankful for my friends — both in the US and the UK — and for what they do for me.  But I don’t like sharing my thankfulness in detail.  What I just said up there is the closest you will get to hearing me open up.  But my aunt always makes us get in a circle, hold hands, and go around and say what we are all thankful for.  It’s sweet and meaningful, but also just too many feelings.  I don’t do feelings.  I don’t have them.  I don’t understand them.  I don’t express them.  So having to hold my cousins’ hands and listen to their feelings– and then sharing my own — is always so awkward.  For me at least.

Who made it best:  We are a competitive tribe and like to one-up each other.  You have to understand that my family is very large.  My mom is the oldest of seven, and of those seven siblings, five of them live within ten minutes of each other.  We are always around each other.  And we like to be the best of whatever it is we are doing.  So when one aunt says that she is going to make the green bean casserole, my uncle likes to show her up by making a fancier, more “interesting” green bean casserole.  And then at dinner, we have a vote-off of which one was the best.  And when one person is declared the victor, they will brag about it for the rest of the night.

We always do this for everything.  Pies, sports, board games, outfits, pets, kids, whatever.  If there is a way to compete with it, we will do it.  We don’t do it to be malicious to one another — although we can get really blood-thirsty at times — it’s just how we are.  In our family, the more we make fun of you, the more we love you.  So when outsiders come to a family dinner, they are kind of thrown back by how blunt we are towards each other.  But it’s like Thanksgiving is the mecca of competition.  We will compete over EVERYTHING.

Actually, I don’t really have anything else to say about how crazy my family can be for Thanksgiving.  Because they are my family and I love them.  And they are like that for every event.  Every holiday.  Every Thursday afternoon.  They are ALWAYS like this.  Those nut balls share the same DNA as me.  I Skyped with them today and already saw both these things happening, but it didn’t matter.  Because that’s what makes our Thanksgivings special.

So whatever you celebrate, and with whomever you give thanks, have a good one.

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