Never have I had a BAD Thanksgiving. The only Thanksgiving that I can remember even coming close to being "bad" was during my freshman year of high school -- I had just gotten my wisdom teeth out a few days before and could only eat mashed potatoes, which, in retrospect, wasn't that bad at all. I guess I could have eaten the cranberry sauce, but I'd rather go hungry than eat gelatinous, pink goop that comes out of a can.
This Thanksgiving was excellent, as usual. Thirty people or so showed up to my grandparents' house to gorge on bean salad, two kinds of stuffing, turkey, ham, taters, asparagus, salad, brownies, three kinds of regular pie, and two beautiful ice-cream pies made by my cousin. Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream pie = major perk of having a relative who works at Baskin-Robbins.
As at all of our family gatherings, someone cried, but that is par for the course. No biggie. Overall, there was minimal drama, minimal stress (at least for me, since the most stressful part of my "duties" was going to Andronico's market to stock up on cheese, crackers, and wine), and minimal yuckiness. Below is a picture of me and some of my cousins with Pop, our grandfather. We were all pretty deep into the turkey coma at this point, as you can tell from the blissful/dazed facial expressions. Mmmmm.
I think Thanksgiving is one of the greatest things about America. Besides the fact that it involves vast quantities of some of my favorite foods -- turkey, pie, biscuits, pie, wine, pie -- it has a nice story behind it about Pilgrims and Indians and sharing the horn of plenty. I think there must be some truth to that story, because somehow those settlers did get through the brutal New England winter (cough) and learned how to cook a mean bird in the process. Every American who has ever eaten themselves into a trytophane-soaked stupor owes a great debt to those Native Americans who shared their wisdom with those hapless Puritans.
Another great thing about Thanksgiving is that even if there is no turkey immediately available, the spirit of Thanksgiving inspires Americans to give thanks -- and pig out on whatever happens to be at hand. I have celebrated two Thanksgivings in South America, which is generally a turkey-free zone, but Thanksgiving found a way to happen anyway.
In 2003, seven of my friends and I found ourselves in Rio on Thanksgiving evening, and started drinking rum and cokes as soon as we got off the plane. Later, in the middle of a thumping, sweaty club, someone yelled out, "HEY GUYS! It's 1 am and we haven't eaten Thanksgiving dinner!!!" Next thing we knew, we were sitting in a brightly lit restaurant eating pizza with a ketchup-esque sauce and toasting that greatest of American holidays. The picture below is Thanksgiving night BEFORE the madness happened.
I spent last Thanksgiving in Rio, too, with Hoolia. We met some Americans and headed out to a churrascaria with the goal of eating ourselves silly on meat, just to get that wonderful Thanksgiving stuffed-to-the-gills feeling. It worked pretty well. There's also something special about eating Thanksgiving dinner with flip flops on.
Enough reminiscing --- thank God for Thanksgiving!