Thanksgiving Traditions

SC Contributing Writer

The turkey is stuffed, the potatoes are mashed, and the pumpkin pie is baked fresh.

And where am I?

I’m sitting in the freezing cold, bundled up next to my boyfriend, aunt, uncle, and cousins in the stands of Lafayette University for the annual Easton vs. Phillipsburg high school football game on Thanksgiving morning.

This game has been part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition for as long as I can remember.

Although I did not go to Easton or Phillipsburg high school, my dad has been the Athletic Director at Easton since I was young, so I grew up attending many Easton events.

My whole family does not go to the Thanksgiving Day game, but there are a few of us who have continued the tradition throughout the years.

My mom and grandparents stay home to prepare for the lunchtime feast, and my sister would rather stay in bed than rough it out in the cold November air.

My brother enjoys getting to stand on the sidelines with my dad during the game.

Despite the brisk, biting wind freezing our faces, our eyes and noses moist and our lips chapped from the chill, we never miss the game.

We have sat bundled in hats, scarves, gloves, and blankets during snowstorms for this Thanksgiving tradition.

By the time we get back to my house after the game, the table is set and the wine is poured—sparkling grape juice for the kids, of course, and we are all starving and ready to eat.

The meal is set up buffet-style around the kitchen, across counters and folding tables set up specially to hold the abundance of food.

The turkey is on a platter ready to be carved, with the salad, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, gravy, cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls all surrounding it.

After marveling at the arrangement, we unbundle ourselves and sit down at the table.

One of my grandparents then says a short prayer of thanks for our food, family, and good health.

Above the clinks of forks and knives against the dinner plates, the conversation—as it usually does when my entire family is gathered together—somehow turns to poking fun at someone.

My dad will refer to my grandmother as “Aunt Bethany” from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” and she will laugh and say it is good that she can take a joke.

You can count on my uncle to crack a mean joke at my younger brother’s expense, resulting in loud laughter, some “oooohs,” and an insult war or a wrestling match.

We laugh and enjoy each other’s company while passing around the bowls of food for second helpings.

If you glance around the table, you can see my dog going from one person to another, hoping that someone will sneak her a piece of turkey from the table.

When we are finished with the meal, the women begin to clean up the table and divide up the leftovers, while the men fulfill their roles of retreating to the living room, turning on football, and falling asleep.

By the time the dishes are done and the leftovers are put away it is somewhere around dinner time, when the rest of the extended family comes over for dessert.

My mom gets her homemade pies from the refrigerator in our basement and creates an outstanding display of desserts across the counter in the kitchen, complete with festive plates and napkins.

She sets candles up and decorations among the pies, and the rest of the family starts to arrive.

With mouths watering as we walk past the counter to marvel at this year’s variety, it is all anyone can do to keep from grabbing a fork and digging in.

After the desserts have been served, the conversation among the women turns to making the plans for Christmas.

The occasional male voice can be heard yelling or cheering at the television while Christmas lists are written up and plans are decided for who is cooking and when we are eating.

We look through the Black Friday fliers, searching for deals on the perfect presents and making a shopping plan for that night or the next morning.

When the vanilla ice cream is melted, the coffee is cold, and the little kids are camped out on the couch, the women (again) begin cleaning up and putting away leftovers.

Dishes are done and the coffee is spilled away, and the relatives start packing up their belongings to go home.

With another year behind us, we go to bed looking forward to Christmas and the rest of the holiday season.

Now that Thanksgiving is approaching, I think of all that I am thankful for.

I am especially thankful for my family, since they are the reason I was able to write about this tradition.

I would not be who I am today without them, and I am forever grateful to be surrounded by such loving, supportive people in my life.

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