Today is the American holiday of Thanksgiving, where we celebrate the momentous occasion of a handful of English colonists managing to not kill themselves by gathering together with our families and stuffing ourselves into a food-coma.

At Casa del Ghostie the actual holiday marks the end of a week-long cleaning spree as we try to get our house to resemble something a normal person might live in before all the relatives show up. (I could show you what I mean, but Mother Dearest really would shave off my eyebrows if I did. I’ll just say that we – Mother Dearest and I – have clutter issues and leave it at that.) I have spent the past week splitting my downtime between NaNoWriMo and cleaning all the things, so hopefully my portion of the house is presentable by now.

My favorite thing about Thanksgiving, besides the food, is the family. It is rare that so many of my family members are together for any length of time, even if we do live in fairly close proximity to each other.

The day will probably go something like this;

Morning –  Mother Dearest will get up early to put the turkey breast in and turn the crock-pot with the ham in it off (This year we’re having both.) and then go back to bed. The cats will probably wake me up around this time in the mistaken notion that I am supposed to feed them at the ass-crack of dawn. When everyone is awake there will be a quick breakfast followed by any last minute cleaning  of all the things and vacuuming. GhostDad will probably head outside to set up the horseshoe pitch for after supper, take out any trash that needs to go, and move any extra seats in that will be needed to the living and dining rooms. Mother Dearest will start any of the dishes she is going to make and, provided I’ve actually finished cleaning the areas of the house I’m responsible for, I’ll help her. 

Late Morning to Early Afternoon – The house is starting to smell really good by now. Most dishes are finished by this time, last-minute things like slicing the turkey and making gravy are done, and everyone gets changed into their “company” clothes. The plates and good silverware Mother Dearest inherited from Gramma Ghostie will be taken out and cleaned and the tables set. The TV will be set to a music channel and candles will be lit while we wait for the first arrivals. Mother Dearest usually plans for the big meal to start in the late afternoon and people usually start arriving a few minutes before the designated time.

Late Afternoon – Family arrives with yet more food and there is much hugging and talking. Room is made on the kitchen table for the new arrivals, most of the males gravitate towards the living room while the womenfolk head to the kitchen to snack and talk. Any small children, such as the Things, run around being small children. Once everyone arrives and all the food is ready we gather in the kitchen/dining room and a prayer is said. You pick up a plate from your chosen seat at the table and fill it with whatever you like, get a drink, and dig in. We are a fairly noisy family, even while at the table, so there will be about a half-dozen conversations going on at once. As people finish their first helpings they will go back for more in dribs and drabs. Once everyone is stuffed to the gills Mother Dearest will ask if anyone wants dessert yet, but the majority will decide to wait ’til later.

After the actual meal is over and the plates are scraped and stacked, people start to drift around. It’s hard to describe but I’m sure most families do something similar – some will wander out and play horseshoes, or maybe play video games, the Things will want to watch a movie or play in my rooms, some might decide to go for a walk down to the creek, and everyone will be talking. After a few hours of this, those who want dessert will help themselves to whatever is still there – I’m looking forward to a piece of Mother Dearest’s chocolate chess pie; it goes pretty fast so you have to be quick.

Once it starts getting dark, people start getting ready to leave – this is a fairly drawn-out process. Someone will mention that it’s getting late and they should go. Leftovers will be offered and packaged up. Any leftover food that they brought will be located and put back in whatever container it was brought in. 

There will usually be at least one conversation that goes something like this;

“Did you want some [food item] to take home?”

“No, you might want that later.”

“We’ve got plenty – here, take some with you.”

“Well … If you insist. Don’t you want some of this [other food item]?”

“Oh, no – you take that home with you. There’s enough for another meal there.”

“Here, you take some. It’s too much for us.”

“Maybe [relative] wants some …” :calls out to person in another room: “[Relative], did you want some of this [other food item]?”

:distantly: “If no one else wants it, I’ll take it.”

“Is that a yes or a no?”

:enters kitchen: “Is there enough to go around? :sees other relative: Don’t you want the [other food item]?”

And so forth. The actual process of leaving, from beginning to end, can take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour.

It’s tons of fun and I look forward to it every year, but it’s also exausting. Once upon a time when Mother Dearest did the big Christmas craft show that they have out at the state fairgrounds on Thanksgiving weekend, she would have to leave immediately after Thanksgiving supper to go set up and would get worn down to a ragass frazzle. She stopped doing it years ago and I know she doesn’t miss the hassle.