My large family is spread out in all parts of the country, but Thanksgiving is one of the few occasions when everybody gets together. We’d finally arrived at my aunt’s house in Virginia after a long, five hour drive from New York. It was last year’s Thanksgiving, and I was so excited to see everyone again. I would finally be able to see and catch up with all the people I love after what felt like years.
I get out of the car and run up the stairs to ring the bell as my uncle starts unloading the trunk. My cousin, Tory, opens the door and I’m greeted by the amazing aroma of the food being prepared by my other uncle in the kitchen. I think about how great the night will be, and get pulled into my cousin’s arms. I make my way around the house, finding everyone one by one and hugging them. We’d gotten there pretty late, so after I say hi to everybody, I head into the dining room to set the tables with the help of my older brother, Courtney. My cousins, Courtney, and I will have to sit at the kid’s table, but we still get to use the fancy plates and cutlery, like the adults. Each place setting is laid out perfectly and all that’s left is the meal.
My family serves Thanksgiving dinner buffet style. All the food is set out on the island in the kitchen. We slowly line up and fill up our plates as we move around the island. It is exceptionally hard to resist the idea of plopping the whole bowl of stuffing onto my plate, but the idea of getting seconds later on holds me back. I take my plate back to the dining room and start eating the food in front of me- turkey that’s been cooked to perfection with crispy, golden brown skin and a mushroom gravy to pour on top of, stuffing that’s bursting with different flavors and hints of toasted chestnut, sweet potatoes baked with a touch of brown sugar and butter, a delicious green bean casserole topped with a layer of crunchy, fried onions, and last but not least, cranberry sauce made with fresh cranberries and just the right amount of sugar. Thanksgiving dinner is made up of the same classic dishes every year, yet it still remains as one of my favorite meals.
After dinner, we can hardly move due to our overfilled bellies, but we manage to mosey into the family room where my cousin, Tanya, an up-and-coming musician, plays piano and sings her songs for us to listen to. She usually follows with a few songs with guitar, and everyone is relaxed and content while our food digests to the sounds of her voice. This is a part of our yearly Thanksgiving tradition, and each year, we get to hear her improve. Tanya has got this strong, powerful voice that is the perfect way to finish off an amazing dinner. This, however, is not that last event of the night.
When our mini concert is over, the adults, with the exception of my aunt, go up to bed. The rest of us are left to play our favorite game, Pictionary. Once we get into our teams and begin playing, my adrenaline starts pumping. This is my favorite part of the whole night. All of us are extremely competitive when it comes to this game and you can feel the energy building up in the room. It’s my turn to draw, and my hand is already shaking with anticipation. We draw until someone guesses the correct answer, or the timer runs out, and we repeat this while taking turns of who’s drawing until one of the teams win. By that time, it’s already about two o’clock in the morning, and we hang up our masterpieces on the fridge to laugh at in the morning.
We clear the game away, and say our good nights. I head up to bed and smile, thinking back at what a perfect day it was. This is a ritual I hope to have with my family for the rest of my life.