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Tradition vs Chaos: A tale of two Thanksgiving dinners

by | Oct 21, 2023 | Culture, People | 0 comments

I have been with my partner for almost seven years, and our Thanksgiving weekends have always followed the same pattern: dinner with his family on Sunday night, and then dinner with mine on Monday. 

This year, when we arrived at his parent’s place, we were immediately welcomed by the scent of a turkey that had been roasting for the better part of the day. The table, however, had yet to be set. That’s because the night began with a board game. 

Once dinner was ready, we packed up the board game immediately. We couldn’t finish the game or determine a winner, but it didn’t matter. We lined up in the kitchen to serve ourselves buffet style. When everyone was dished up and had sat down, before any of the food was touched, we went around the table and said what we were thankful for. My partner and I agreed that we were thankful for family and the huge steps forward we were taking in our lives. His dad was thankful for how well his children were doing. His brother was thankful that everyone was happy and healthy. His mom was thankful “for a wedding!” since me and my partner got engaged recently. 

If I’m being honest, I have never liked the way his family cooks turkey dinner, but this year, his brother was the one who prepared the meal.It was better than what I have had at their place before, but it still could never compare to my mom’s cooking.But truthfully, I’m not there for the turkey. I am there for the family. Well, that and the Costco pumpkin pie.  

It’s a tradition in their house that whoever cooks doesn’t have to clean. So, we all helped clean while my partner’s brother took a break, and then it was time to move to the living room to nurse our food comas while watching movies. 

Before leaving, we made sure to steal some leftover turkey (because our two cats deserved a Thanksgiving meal, too).  

Next was dinner with my family on Monday night, which was usually anything but traditional. Usually when my family gets together, a rare occasion nowadays, the only way to describe it would be chaotic. But this year it was different as my dad and brother were out of town, which left me, my mom, and my sister to celebrate the holiday together. 

When my partner and I arrived Monday night, we were not met with the smell of turkey as we were the previous night. In fact, we were not met with the smell of anything. It would not be a Howlett Thanksgiving without something going wrong. Last year, it had been my brother and sister discovering that Cool Whip can eat stucco off of ceilings, resulting in a ban of all aerosolized whip creams at the dinner table. This year, it was the oven that decided to break. 

 The night before, we had sat around the table as a family saying thanks for everything we were grateful for. Monday night, all we said thanks for was that the weather was nice enough to barbecue.

While my mom manned the barbecue, we drank wine and talked and caught each other up with what had been happening in our lives. Luckily, we had decided the week before that we would not have a turkey dinner due to the small group of people and the current price of turkeys. We instead opted for a chicken, which did not take long at all to cook on the barbecue. When the chicken was cooked, we gathered around the dining room table — placed conveniently under the yellowed bald patch on the ceiling — to eat. Since dinner was about two hours later than originally planned, when we finished eating, we said our goodbyes and headed home. 

After all is said and done, though, I don’t think it really matters whether or not Thanksgiving dinners are filled with oven-roasted turkey or smoky barbecued chicken, or whether they’re rooted in tradition or chaos.What matters most is being able to spend time with the ones you love. 

Kelsie Howlett

The Griff


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