The Next Delusion

Seeing Reality and Looking the Other Way

Thanksgivings I Have Known

I was raised an only child of two parents who had both moved far from their families of origin. I was 11 years old before I celebrated a Thanksgiving with more than 3 people at the dinner table, and my mom was a reluctant cook at best. Thanksgiving typically meant Cornish game hens in front of a football game, with Stove Top Stuffing and Pepperidge Farm rolls on the side. Once my grandmother taught me to bake, a Libby’s pumpkin pie or Crosse & Blackwell Mincemeat out of a jar joined the holiday table. We won’t mention the Thanksgiving where I added twice the amount of evaporated milk to the pumpkin pie. Let’s just say I’m not a strong cook.

Thanksgiving turkey

That’s no Cornish game hen

When I was a teenager, my parents would typically invite a friend of mine and go to our favorite beach (a few hours south, but by no means warm) for a few days at Thanksgiving. This period of my life featured the Thanksgiving where we bought a frozen turkey the night before and couldn’t figure out how to thaw it in time. And the Thanksgiving where my friend and I tried to reheat a pizza, but didn’t realize that you had to take it out of the box first. We call that one the Smoky Thanksgiving.

In my early twenties, I married into a large family with multiple accomplished cooks. Suddenly instead of 3 at the dinner table, there were 13. The food was amazing, but the people were overwhelming and tended toward uptight. Everyone had to dress up for dinner and have serious discussions with Aunt Thelma about Fermat’s last theorem. Dinner was preceded by grace and long lists of items for which each of us was grateful. And, sadly, there seemed always to be a general lack of joy at the table. Finally getting to escape that holiday gathering was one of the benefits of my divorce.

For the last couple of years, I have been lucky enough to be included in Momus’ family Thanksgiving. Momus comes from a large, raucous Irish American family. Every time they get together each member’s goal is to be the one to make everyone else laugh the most. Cousins fly in from all over the country for this one day. Thanksgiving is largely potluck, so everyone brings what they are good at (I bring wine and my daughter’s magical peanut butter pie). The evening is full of jokes, games, and copious amounts of beer and wine. The kids gather together to play in the basement, or sit at their parents’ feet to hear the inappropriate-for-children’s-ears things the grown-ups have to say. Last year everyone was even game enough to play along when a cousin’s girlfriend demanded to lead a Zumba class before dinner.

This gathering has been Thanksgiving for Momus his entire life. I can see in his eyes, and hear as he talks in anticipation of the day, how much this holiday has always meant to him. And I feel extraordinarily lucky to share in that, and to be welcomed to celebrate with this wonderfully crazy family. So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the opportunity to celebrate this day with Momus and his clan. And to finally, in my forties, experience Thanksgiving as it was meant to be.

In honor of Turkey Day, we will skip Throwdown this Thursday (seems not really in the spirit of the day, and we would probably end up debating the merits of stuffing vs. dressing or pumpkin vs. pecan pie and make you all sick anyway).  We’ll be back next Tuesday. Happy Thanksgiving!


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15 thoughts on “Thanksgivings I Have Known

  • kdcol says:

    Lovely post, Cassandra. It made me smile. (and this is no easy feat these days for me and my cranky self) 🙂

    Have a great Thanksgiving!!
    kdcol recently posted…Workout interruptedMy Profile

  • Phil says:

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I also am happy to be with a gal whose whole family are great cooks. We head there to feast during the holidays.
    Phil recently posted…Retail therapy and saying hello to Miss America in Atlantic City!My Profile

  • Joy Christi says:

    Those sound like lovely Thanksgivings, both of those scenarios actually! My mother only made potatoes from box flakes & as.much in the microwave as possible! And my dad dank whiskey and got mean. The End. I am not a big fan of turkey day.
    It sounds like you will have a lovely holiday! Glad to hear it.
    Joy Christi recently posted…Fat Pants, Poxes and Four Finger SpatchcockMy Profile

    • Cassandra says:

      Thanks! I’m looking forward to it. The upside of such a motley Thanksgiving history is I’m pretty easy to please. If there’s something edible and nice people to talk to, I’m game.

  • Sounds like fun. My husband has a large family, too, and for many years we trekked out to see them all on Thanksgiving & it was a lot of fun. But the last two years he hasn’t wanted to make the trip with the horrendous traffic so we’ve stayed home. Not quite as festive, but nice just the same.
    One Funny Motha recently posted…A One Man Tweeting MachineMy Profile

    • Cassandra says:

      There are plenty of fine ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s all about the flexibility. But I’m really looking forward to tomorrow!

  • Linda Roy says:

    That sounds amazing Cassandra! I’m glad you’re finally able to experience a fun raucous Thanksgiving – the way God intended. 😉 My current Thanksgivings are at my sister in law’s house with her in-laws: the Martha Stewart wannabe and her stodgy, nutty husband. We eat BBQ’d turkey off the grill and White Castle stuffing. Then we come home and do it the way we want it a few days later.
    Linda Roy recently posted…Give Us This Day Our Daily DreadMy Profile

  • ManicMom says:

    Sounds wonderful. I came from a small family with table linens and too many forks at Thanksgiving into a large family with potluck and plastic cutlery. Now everyone from both sides gathers at our house and it’s totally fabulous.

    Oh, and if we had a Throwdown Thursday it would be about stuffing. Me against everyone else (I’m not a fan). And it would be ugly.
    ManicMom recently posted…The Weird, Obscure, or Slightly Silly: Thanksgiving EditionMy Profile

    • Cassandra says:

      I’m a big fan of stuffing. Except at my ex’s Thanksgiving where it contained oysters(!!) Who would do that to stuffing?

  • Hi Cassandra! I just wandered over from The Blogess when I saw the title of your post. I’m a HUGE sucker for Thanksgiving AND for anything that talks about gratitude and being thankful. On my blog I have been doing a “Gratitude Challenge” and spent the entire month focusing on issue and it has been, as you might imagine, an extremely rewarding experience. I am glad to hear you’ve found your “place” for a lovely Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful day. ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living recently posted…Grateful For The Little ThingsMy Profile

  • The Momus Clan sounds awesome! Love the big boisterous get-togethers!
    Darcy Perdu (So Then Stories) recently posted…Family Dinner Fiasco: Comedy AND Tragedy in 3 Short Funny ActsMy Profile

  • Margot says:

    When your parents divorce and then remarry when you are young, the holidays can be a big drag. You end up going to a lot of step-relatives’ homes, often sitting at a table with people you don’t even know, and there’s no centralized family gathering. Of course, you can always create your own holidays when you grow up, but it’s not easy to be creative and festive, and make new traditions when the holidays make you blue.

    We moved 2000 miles away from home 3 years ago, and knew no one in our new state. The first round of holidays was really hard as we had nowhere to go at all. But then something really cool happened! My husband’s grandmother grew up here and it turns out we have all kinds of relatives that we didn’t know about here. Some of them are rather distant relations, but here in the South everyone’s a “cousin.” They found us somehow 2 years ago, welcomed us into the clan immediately, and now we have a great group of family to share the holidays with and it’s a lot of fun.

    Sorry for the long comment! I guess my point is that I’m glad you found a wonderful family group to gather with, and that it’s better late than never to find a great group of relatives/friends to celebrate with. I’m very thankful indeed!

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