I have always had a very singular family living arrangement. From my front window, I can see each of the houses of my grandma, my aunt and her husband and my three cousins, my uncle, and my cousin with her husband and two daughters. With such close proximity to my family, seeing them is an easy as taking a 30-second walk down the street. Yet, despite our closeness, getting everyone together is quite the challenge.
When I was younger, Thanksgiving represented one of the few times of the year when everyone on the street, plus the rest of the extended family, came together. The holiday meant cramming and feeding more than 40 people at my grandparents’ small home. As the years went by, we welcomed more and more people into the family and the guest list only increased. During middle school, the expansive growth of the family moved the meal to a bigger venue, conveniently at the neighbor’s house who just so happened to be my aunt. With this change in location also came a new tradition.
As my grandparents got older, the bitter cold of Rhode Island winters led them to head down south for the season. In light of this decision, they were no longer home for Christmas. So as not to miss celebrating the holidays with the family, Thanksgiving converged into the next holiday on our calendar: into something you might call “Thanksmas.” With so many people to feed, everyone in attendance brought a special dish to share with the rest of the family, essentially tranfsorming dinner into a endless buffet of gifts, including gifts of casserole dishes and pie plates.
While the tradition of watching football and family storytelling remained the same, the merging of the holidays led to an exchange of presents from my grandparents to nearly everyone in attendance. Ripping off the wrapping paper of the holiday gifts became the perfect way to fight off the food coma— at least until the football game has ended. As the younger kids played with their new toys, the adults would linger over their empty dishes and reminisce about memories of holidays past.
Unfortunately, after the passing of my grandfather, the large family gathering dissolved into smaller, more intimate dinners. Despite no longer celebrating “Thanksmas,” Thanksgiving remains a time when we all count our blessings and reflect on how much we have to be grateful for. No matter what are plans are for dinner, we all try to gather in the evening at someone’s house for another round of festivities, usually coffee and desserts. The crowd rarely gets as large at it once was, yet somehow we still always manage to fill the house with enough laughter to shake the neighborhood.
Even with the changes in traditions, I still look forward every year when I can sit down with those I love in celebration of good food and company. Thanksgiving is a time of great warmth and comfort that one cannot help but be thankful. Whether you are celebrating with roommates on campus or are back at home with family and friends, enjoy every ounce of this Thanksgiving before it becomes another memory of the past.
Bethany Imondi, a junior studying Government and English at Georgetown University, will be using cooking and eating as her form of homework procrastination during Thanksgiving break. Read more…