Historically, the first Thanksgiving marked the communion of the Plymouth Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans in the early seventeenth century.
It inspired the annual modern American holiday marked by family get-togethers, acts of gratitude and football. Thanksgiving Day is an excuse to release your inner glutton and gorge on anything (and everything) that’s in front of you. At least, that’s the way I see it.
Growing up, Thanksgiving was a very important holiday that I always spent with my mother’s family. With my maternal grandmother’s birthday on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving was a cross between a birthday party and a family reunion.By some cruel stroke of fate, our house was chosen to host Thanksgiving dinner year after year.
I remember the week before Thanksgiving being a period of (dis)organized chaos: Mass cleaning efforts, hordes of family flying in from all over the country and countless trips to the supermarket.
For my mother, everything had to be perfect. The utensils weren’t aligned? She panicked. The dessert wasn’t room temperature? She panicked. Every little hiccup held the power to tip her over the edge.
For what, a couple of hours of eating? I didn’t think that all the stress it caused those around me was worth it — I still don’t.
As I grew older, some of the responsibilities that caused my mother so much stress were passed on to me. I used to only be responsible for making sure that I showed up, greeted family and guests, ate and shuffled on to bed.
When I reached my teenage years, the Thanksgiving season became less of a time to celebrate and more of a time to dread the influx of meddling relatives. So how do I celebrate Thanksgiving today?
When my maternal grandmother passed away two years ago, my family decided to create a new tradition: Staying home to appreciate our immediate family. Thanksgiving is no longer such a big deal for my family.
No more fuss, no more big parties and certainly no extended family. Now when we celebrate it’s just the four of us: My mother, my father, my brother and myself.
My father and brother get bundled up, go outside and fry a turkey. My mother and I cook simple sides together inside while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade plays in the background. When all the food is done, we each fill up our plates, sit in front of the television and enjoy our food while we watch Thanksgiving Day football.
Although our Thanksgiving celebrations as of late have been small in comparison to what they used to be, it is this sense of intimacy that has made my family’s Thanksgiving Day traditions hold more importance in my life than any other holiday.