Thanksgiving was the best of holidays growing up. I knew that family would be over. Cousin, Aunts, Uncles, Grandpa, Grandma, More Cousins, and even More Cousins. And there would be food. Good, home-made, food. I grew up in a family where nobody ever used a canned anything. And let me tell you, I was spoiled.
We often started our Thanksgiving day with a soccer game out back. All the local Young People would come over for a game to get us all outside and just to be together before we all headed to our homes and dinners.
Thanksgiving dinner was usually at our house, since we had the most room. We had enough people for several tables, and usually there was a cousin table. Later on as the cousins all grew up, and it was only my immediate family with their spouses and kids, I graduated to the Big People’s Table, and now my kids sit at the Cousin’s Table. I love it. So do my kids. So does everybody else.
Somewhere along the line we started to Skeet Shoot after dinner. It was probably when my little brother was in high school and my slough of boy cousins all decided they needed guns. We still skeet shoot.
There are several series of desserts, with conversation in-between. When the cousin are tired of being outside, they set up the board games–the long ones like Risk. The only difference from when I was a kid is that they will also play computer games.
As the in-laws came along they added to the traditions. Now Lily brings a Cherry Tea Ring over, or we head to her place for a coffee before the Big Dinner.
I wouldn’t change a thing about the day. But that isn’t real life. Since being married, I haven’t usually been able to be home for Thanksgiving, and it was OH SO HARD! To anyone who has spent a Thanksgiving Day Alone, Oh how ALONE it feels!
I am a pilot’s wife, and pilots fly on all the major holidays. That’s part of the job description. Here is a Thanksgiving that really happened.
As I mentioned before, I am a pilot’s wife. My husband used to fly for a company that flew air ambulance. This meant that aside from the co-pilot, there would be two nurses. Now air ambulance flights only require a 15 minute call-out. The crew, while on duty, had to be ready to be at the airport within 15 minutes. Usually, the crew knew sooner than that, but the call-out COULD be 15 minutes.
The Hunni flew all over this hemisphere, and therefore at any day, there was always the chance that he could end up unexpectedly at home. Since his aircraft was serviced locally, there was always the remote possibility that he would stop in. For this reason I wouldn’t go home to my parents house for Thanksgiving because there was always the remote chance that he would swoop in on his wings for a quick dinner. And yep, you betcha, bring the whole crew with him. I would usually get an hour’s notice.
Some years I cooked the whole dinner hoping he would swoop in, and a few years we ate cold cereal. But this time (about 4 years ago), I decided to cook the entire thing and hope and pray he would get home.
The day before Thanksgiving, I called the Hunni to see what the chances were, and he told me about his day. Here is his story. He had been flying with a new guy. This pilot was raised in Hong Kong and although he spoke excellent English (no accent), he didn’t always understand all the innuendos of the English language. There was a fly in the cockpit, and The Hunni was trying to shoo out the fly. He didn’t want to swat the fly and leave “bug guts” anywhere. The co-pilot began shooing also, and as they both shooed, the Hong Kong co-pilot said, “I’m pro-life.” Now the Hunni knew that the co-pilot was Buddhist, and knew what the co-pilot meant. He knew that the co-pilot didn’t understand all the implications of the words, “pro-life”, but he decided to add his opinion. The Hunni said, “I’m pro-life, also.” And thus began the conversation. The Co-pilot said that he tried to never kill anything. He was also vegetarian. The Hunni, not having known the co-pilot for more than a few day, said that the term “pro-life” was associated with abortion, and that he, The Hunni knew that abortion was murder. There was a quiet in the cockpit. Then the co-pilot, the guy that wouldn’t swat the fly, stated that his wife had had an abortion. The Hunni hadn’t meant to hurt him, but the co-pilot wasn’t hurt. He calmly explained that although they were married, and that although they would eventually like to have kids, and that although they had both finished their schooling, they weren’t “ready to have kids.” “It was inconvenient at the moment.” My stomach flopped. That was our Thanksgiving eve conversation.
Thanksgiving morning the crew flew into our local airport. Now the nurses didn’t live locally, so we had all the crew over. Two nurses, the co-pilot, and his wife. Although, I didn’t know that they were coming until that morning, I made sure we had some vegetarian options. The co-pilot’s wife was a petite, cute, Oriental with thigh high boots that I could never pull off (literally), but she looked smashing in them. The crew stayed around for several hours, and the co-pilot and his wife were the last to leave. She suggested that we do coffee some time. I said that yes, I would love to get out for a cup of coffee, but I didn’t have a babysitter. As the couple was leaving she said, “Why don’t I watch your kids for a bit. I love children. You could go out and be free.” I just smiled and waved good-bye.
When the door was shut I said to The Hunni, “I won’t be asking her to babysit, so that I can have a FREE afternoon, I think I will just stay with my inconvenient kids.”
That was a Thanksgiving that really happened.