When I moved from my hometown of Pittsburgh, the plan was to always return home for Thanksgiving.
The holiday tradition included packing up the car for a long weekend of cooking, eating, playing games, having fun with family and friends, and rising early for Black Friday shopping.
That all sounds great, right?
Well...the intent was always wonderful, but the things that happened along the way made them unforgettable!
Here are just a few of (tamer) highlights from Thompson Family Thanksgivings over the years:
- When the kids were little, everyone was helping to prepare dinner in my parents' kitchen where we named the turkey “Tom.” All was well until we put dinner on the table, and my son, who was about five years old at the time, started sobbing and saying, “I can’t eat Tom!"
- My brother and his wife were expecting their first baby right around Thanksgiving Day. They couldn’t cook, but offered to host dinner at their house. So, we cooked everything at my mom’s house, packed up the van, and drove 45 minutes to their house. It was our own version of Meals on Wheels.
- The year after my mom died, my dad decided that he would move up to Erie to be closer to us. Prior to him doing so, we went down to Pittsburgh for our last Thanksgiving in my childhood home. When we arrived, we found that he had packed the entire house into boxes (even though he wasn’t moving for another month). There were no pictures on the wall and no more than two forks in the drawer. Not only did I have to unpack box after box, we also had to borrow more than a few items from his church just to make dinner.
- Once my dad moved to Erie, we continued to travel down to Pittsburgh at Thanksgiving and stayed at my cousin Dan’s apartment. Right before dinner, the electricity went out as I was using a hairdryer - all of the fuses in the apartment had blown. Dan, wonderfully bald, had never encountered such a problem. We were able to restore electricity to a few plugs, but I still spent hours doing all of the "good dishes" by hand...in his bathtub...by candle light.
- The next year at Dan’s, his neighbor directly upstairs clogged their drain and water came pouring through Dan's kitchen ceiling right after we sat down to dinner. We saved the food, but the kitchen was a mess.
- Then came the year when my dad had a small heart procedure done the week before Thanksgiving. When we went out early to Macy's on Black Friday, he stayed back at Dan's apartment. I forgot my phone in the car (cell phones were new at that time), and my kids went back to the parking garage to get it. A few minutes later, I heard my daughter yell from the top of the escalator to me on the packed first floor of the store below, “Mom, we’ve got to go! Pap can’t pee!” And, so, off to the ER we went.
My children may not have had the perfect memories of Thanksgiving that Martha Stewart’s daughter must have, but we sure tried and when we reminisce, we laugh...hard.
I hope that this Thanksgiving you are lucky enough to make your own great memories, even if they rival the likes of Clark Griswold.