The kids are attempting to cook, the turkey is raw, the cranberry sauce has touched the ground multiple times and cream of mushroom soup is going into things that cream of mushroom soup does not belong in. Just kidding, that’s an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. During the Holidays, all of the “feel-good” shows and movies are in heavy syndication and running on all of my favorite networks all day long. My Thanksgivings are shaped and moulded by the shows and movies that I finally get to sit down with family and watch around the Holidays. All I have to do is grab a blanket, snuggle up next to whoever is taking a break from cooking at that moment and indulge.
If I’m next to my uncle, then I’m either watching Star Wars or The Peanuts; if I am next to my aunt then I am either watching The Nanny, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or something on the Lifetime Network; if I am sitting next to my mom then we are definitely watching Martin talk about his Mama’s biscuits; if I am next to my sister (who doesn’t let me get too close) then we are watching the Macy’s Day Parade while she plans out her Black Friday Attack; and if I’m sitting next to my dad or grandpa then I am watching football, Walker Texas Ranger, Andy Griffith or old Westerns.
Oddly enough, the television is the way that I remember the Holidays the most. We are all basically gathered around the television with loved ones up until it is time to gather around the dinner table with loved ones. Thanksgiving for my family happens in two parts: the first part is with my father’s family (usually at my grandparents house) and the second part happens with my mom’s family (now at my cousin’s house). The flavors of the day are insane. I go from eating dressing, ham, yams, greens, turkey, fried chicken, and pie at one house with these flavors to eating the exact same things at another house with completely different flavors. How they do it is pure magic (Black Girl Magic), and all I want to do is learn so that I can, one day, host the Thanksgiving festivities.
As I got older, my Thanksgivings were spent sharing a lounge chair made for one while watching television, eating Chinese food, laughing until we cried, and drifting in-and-out of sleep until we got the phone call that the food was ready. At that point, we’d get up and hit as many houses as possible just so that we could fill our bellies, laugh with family we hadn’t seen in months, play board games/video games, and then leave just to end up right back in that lounge chair. No matter how I spend my Thanksgivings, there are two things that are always a constant, family around the television and love.
As someone who is as anti-love as they come, something about the Holidays always lights the little love-flame in my heart. Nice gestures are in the air, giving feels good and manners have their rebirth around the Holidays. I am enchanted by it all. The colors and smells of the Holidays add a warmth in my heart that even Summer can't emulate.
This upcoming Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for love, taste-testing the food, education, family, friends, creative minds and life. I am excited to spend my Thanksgiving with my loved ones eating all of the pies that I requested throughout the year, laughing, and watching television.
So to all I say, Let's Be Breef, but, most of all, Let's Be Thankful!
What Does My Thanksgiving Look Like?
As a child, I always remembered waking up to a crisp autumn morning, with the heater providing a welcome solace from the outside November chill. The delectable smells of a Thanksgiving feast emanated from our home’s little kitchen, and when I settled into the living room, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade would be on TV while my mom prepared the turkey. For me, Thanksgiving has always been about one thing—family.
This is the time of year where our boisterous worlds quiet down a bit and life slows its pace. Hallmark movies and Christmas music start to make their entrance, and baking cookies and treats becomes a common pastime.
As the years go by, and my brothers and my sister get older, we begin to lead our separate lives. This sometimes creates a disconnect between the feelings of closeness we shared in our younger years. The holidays provide my heart with a chance to recover, not just from the stresses of everyday life, but from the emotions created by the slow, natural separation of family. When everyone is together again, it’s as if things never changed. I cling tightly to those feelings of warmth and familiarity, because as we age, the opportunity to experience them grows scarce.
The beauty of this holiday is in its simplicity. Most of us focus only on one thing—relishing our time with the ones we love most. Even when I was a teenager working in retail, I would make it a priority to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family. The following day (the much-dreaded Black Friday), I would be called to duty, but the holiday itself was always about old-fashioned enjoyment—having dinner and watching movies with my mom, my grandma, and my siblings, while sharing laughter and memories. Until my dad passed away in 2000, spending quality time with him was also a significant part of our holidays.
My mom always put a clever Latvian twist on her dishes, but for the most part dinner would consist of the usual Thanksgiving staples—a perfectly juicy, seasoned turkey (and sometimes ham), potatoes, gravy, stuffing, corn pudding, vegetables, and desserts like pumpkin pie and cobbler. The scents—spicy, sweet, savory—would swirl in perfect harmony and waft throughout the kitchen and living space while the kids helped set the table. Then, we would all come together, our mouths watering in anticipation for the meal sitting in front of us.
I look forward to this time of year because I get to take a mental breather and focus on the present, enjoying the company of the people I hold closest to my heart. I can sit on the couch and talk to my grandma for hours about random stories of her childhood, I can catch up with my siblings and see what is going on in their lives, and I can spend time with my mom, who is my best friend in so many wonderful ways. Not every family has the blessing of being so close for the holidays, so I always keep in mind that this is a time of gratitude—for everything and everyone we hold dear.
To our readers, I wish you a happy, safe, and beautiful Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I find these are the most joyous times of the year. The majority of the year is spent in a daze because of personal endeavors. The demands of this life continuously draw us away from the things and people who are most important. We’re forever in motion – racing, trudging towards the intangible notion of success to the point that we have little time for fellowship with family. Thankfully, this holiday has become a tradition where families come together. I know for my own family, each year it’s a miniature reunion that is usually held at my Aunt’s in Sacramento, California. Family from across the U.S. comes to her home and we revel in what has essentially turned into a homecoming of sorts.
The women usually share in the task of cooking the Thanksgiving meal while the men handle the laborious odds and ends. We each play our specific roles – be it baking a cake, basting the turkey, grabbing last minute items from the grocery store, cleaning, or setting up the rented tables and chairs, it all comes together through collaborated efforts. A house filled with people, the aroma of an assortment of soul foods, and the combination of laughter and holiday music put a stamp of peace on my heart this same time every year. Rejoining with distant cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews and even old friends who’ve become family is what makes Thanksgiving a day of jubilation. Card and domino games, dance contests, delectable desserts, and photos with our grandparents that forever capture a moment in time with their lineage make all the efforts put into making Thanksgiving happen worth it.
As the holiday approaches, I wish ALL of you a Happy Thanksgiving and pray that you all find time to spend it with the ones you love!