My godfather Mario (and GrampaStavo’s best friend – the two originally known in our family circle as “Two Gentlemen From Verona) stood among the 27 people gathered for Thanksgiving dinner. “And we, WE are the original pilgrims,” he announced proudly, raising his glass for a toast.
My dad swiftly interrupted. “And he’s the original turkey!” he shouted, pointing at Mario.
Out of the 27 people thankful for family and friends, precisely four were not immigrants or first-generation American (a number than can be further divided in half by the presence of the ever adorable muppets). Italy, England, Brazil and El Salvador were all represented.
Before dinner was served, I overheard an elongated explanation of Thanksgiving and the traditions behind each dish to be served. Then someone else told the real story while the Italians wandered off to the Ferrari room to chuckle at their amusement with themselves. (Sadly, I am not making this up. Guess which faction are my relatives.)
Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays growing up. It marked the official start of the holiday season – I do not care what the department stores or the house around the corner that’s had Christmas lights up for a month have to say about that. Thanksgiving marks the spot. As the years passed by, those of us at the kids table grew older – though we remained firmly seated at the kids table.
This afternoon, the wine flowed freely. Laughter filled the packed dining room, rising above the shouts of good-natured Italian jests and snarky British retorts. (See above turkey comment.) My cousin Brittany was the hostess this year. She finally got to sit at the adult table.
As we sat with multiple goblets of vino and plates piled high with turkey (wrapped in bacon), stuffing, mashed potatoes, spinach salad, candied yams and G.G.’s famous pumpkin bread (it was once requested to be airmailed to Italy for a faux-Thanksgiving), Brittany stood to give thanks.
“I had a moment of panic when I first realized how many people would be here with us today,” she began. “But in the spirit of the holiday, I am truly thankful to be blessed with so many friends and family who want to be here with us today.” (Whoda thunk? We were all excited to be with family.)
Cin cin! And dinner was delicious (even if they did try to feed me Miss Piggy).
More and more people began to stand and share. Mario and his wife Tracy sat next to GrammaJ and GrampaStavo, who sat across from “the kids.” (I quote this being that there is now a whole group of a younger generation – including my own.) Tracy stood – raising her glass. She pointed at us, noting that we were the future. She looked back to Brittany with tears in her eyes and began to reminisce about the past 30 years.
My dad dropped his head toward the table with a loud snore. Off in the far distance of the adult table, I saw Brittany lean over to several of the international travelers and whisper, “No, there’s usually not this many speeches on Thanksgiving.”
“STOP WINE!” the “kids” cried in chorus as we helped ourselves to more.
Naturally it eventually came back around the table, with Mario asking me for my toast. I easily distracted them by pointing out how cute the muppets were, mumbling, “Y’all can read my blog later.”
So, as promised, here’s a small sampling of what I’m thankful for:
- Healthy children. Medical issues suck; NICU nurses, you are and will always be my hero – no matter how many years pass us by.
- Friends and family. Because, let’s face it – mine rock. (They are also certifiably insane, but I’m a big fan of the laughter that results.)
- Coffee. I wouldn’t make it through most days without it.
- My childhood. Days like today remind me; 10 was a good year.
- Sleep. It does a body good. And I do so miss my early nights and late mornings spent curled up under the covers.
- Technology. For starters, I’m a huge fan of modern conveniences. Also, I work in the technology field and I like my job.
- The intertubes. I’ve grown awfully fond of this online space, and all the writing opportunities that have arisen for me this year.
- Music. Most memories in my life are associated with a song, taking me back.
- Red wine and chocolate. Because, yum.
- Doggies. Not only just the muppets first word, but dogs make me happy.
- You. (You know who you are.) Thank you for sharing in my story. Thank you for being you.