I have had the same thanksgiving, give or take a few details, since I was born. My family isn’t very big on tradition, but Thanksgiving weekend is one that hasn’t and will never change. The festivities start on Wednesday, which is Grandparens Day/Special persons at Breck School, the school that all of my siblings and cousins and I have attended. I have always played the role of the coordinator. I am always the one making sure that all of the grandparents get to each kids class, on time, and that all of the grandkids are happy with the class that each grandparent attended, a job that is much easier now when I don’t actually have classes to go to. I speedwalk through the hallways like a crazy person, smiling at old teachers, and the adorable preschoolers walking in a line to snack. Finally, at noon, the day is over, and we all go out to lunch. Wednesday night we watch a movie and go to bed early to get enough rest for the rest of the week.
Then the actual day of Thanksgiving arrives. We lounge around the house for a while until we are beckoned to my grandma’s house to help her set up. Around noon, when all of the tables are set, my grandma and I sit down to write the questions. The questions, a tradition that the adults dread, began about 10 years ago. My grandma and I write questions that each member of the family in attendance is to answer honestly, and anonymously. The questions have ranged from “If your life was a movie, what would it be titled?” to, “What is the hardest decision you’ve ever made?” When the hors de’vours are put out, each adult is handed a pen, a clipboard with the questions and told to spill. Then during dessert, I proceed to read each person’s set of answers, and the family is to guess who answered each question. Spoiler: this is never difficult, and the person’s name is almost always blurted out after the answer to the first question. We laugh at the younger ones answers, and sit and discuss the elder’s answers curiously, eating what seems to be an endless supply of my mother’s chocolate chip pecan pie.
But the traditions don’t end on Thursday, oh no, our Thanksgiving is essentially three days long. Friday morning my dad drags us all out of bed, as we groggily slip on our wool socks, long johns, hats and mittens… because it is time for the most intense family game ever played. It is broomball time. My uncle, who initiated the game around 15 years ago, brings the brooms, the ball, and the red pennies. And for an hour and a half it is war, as cousins check each other against the boards, and deck each other ruthlessly, while my girl cousins and I stand in the middle of the ice, with the goal of touching the ball once before the game ends.
After the buzzer goes off and the Breck high school hockey team kicks us off the ice, we all pile into everyones car, and head over to my aunt and uncles for the Channukah party. Yes, we have our Channukah party over thanksgiving, an idea that came about when kids started leaving for college and this was the only guaranteed time the entire family would be together to exchange gifts. We sit around the fire eating potato latkes and spinning the dreidel, as my grandpa delivers gifts in the goofiest manner possible. With most of the kids in college now, we hug and say, see you soon, which could mean see you in December, or for some, see you next thanksgiving.
This three day Thanksgiving tradition is a lot of family time, and when I was younger, I often wished that I could spend my Friday like the rest of my friends, shopping. Now, being away from home for most of the year, I wish that we could all stay at the Channukah party, spinning dreidels and laughing at my grandpa, forever.