I have one of those big ole’ families. The kind where you need to draw out a family tree so that new comers (people like boyfriends and girlfriends) can see just where everyone fits.
On holidays my Grandma K has the attitude of the more the merrier. If she finds out that you don’t have a place to eat turkey (or ham) you will get an invite to her house. There have been times when there was scarcely a place to sit on the floor to eat in her quaint bungalow.
Last night we had our first Thanksgiving feast of the weekend in my Grandma’s living room. There was of course the traditional gluttony that accompanies any North American holiday. But what I love most about our big family gatherings is the way we interact with each other.
We don’t see some of my aunts and uncles very often and it warms my heart how easily they talk and play with my kiddos. My Uncle Gerry let Delaney sit on his lap and play on his phone for a good hour at least. And my Auntie Dana sat on the floor helping her with a puzzle.
There is a village of older cousins who help out with the younger ones, overseeing the kids table and making sure food gets eaten and not flung.
The real magic at these dinners happens when the stories start being told.
There are the usual classics like the time my cousin Tamara and I were teenage girls having a sleep over at my Grandma’s house. We may have shared an entire box of chocolate covered espresso beans and gone completely bonkers until the wee hours of the morning. When we finally crashed, my fed up Grandma had Tamara’s brother start mowing the lawn outside the window of the bedroom we were sleeping in.
Another favorite is the time I was asked to get the (precious) fruit cake out of the kitchen to be served in the living room. In an attempt to efficiently remove the plastic wrap from the plate, I accidentally spilled all of it onto the garbage can where someone had emptied an ashtray. This happened 20 plus years ago, but to this day I am still not trusted to carry food at holiday dinners.
There was a new story last night that I hadn’t heard before though. Back in the day, my Uncle Gerry who is the youngest brother had broken his hip and was in a body cast. My dad and my Auntie Chris were begging my Grandma to let them go trick or treating, but my Grandma insisted they were too old. Auntie Chris tried the strategy of saying she would go out and collect candy for her little brother Gerry, but my dad had a much better scheme in mind.
Dad went to another room and got dressed up. (I’m not sure as what… that detail didn’t come out. But it was mentioned that the boys were always girls on Halloween and Auntie Chris was always a boy… so I have my suspicions). Then he sneaked out the window, went around the front of the house and knocked on his own front door.
“Trick or Treat!”
My Grandma opened the door, gave him some candy and closed it again. My dad just stood there and waited. A few moments later my grandma opened the door, realizing she had just been scammed by her oldest son and pulled him into the house.
“You might as well go get dressed up.” She said to my Auntie Chris. And the two older kids were sent out trick or treating after all that night,
Stories are magic. I’ll say it again. They are the glue that bonds families and the whimsy that creates aw. I hope your Thanksgiving dinners are filled with the stories you’ve heard 1000 times with a few new ones mixed in to perk you your ears and warm your heart.