Two and a half more weeks, and I have every excuse in the book to stuff my face with pie. And I will. Oh, I so will.
My extended family is large, and all (close to fifty) of us come together in one house for Thanksgiving. It’s crowded not only with bodies but also with love. It’s sick; really, it is. All of the cousins count down together as if it’s what we have waited for our entire year. And that’s not entirely untrue. It’s an occasion for us all to “take a sip” each time Aunt Ruth makes us roll our eyes (she is delightfully crude and delightful at the same time). But most of all, it’s the one time of year where we all come together.
Before my grandfather passed away, we got together around Christmas time as well. For several years after that, we tried to carry on the tradition without him, but those days seemed to have died right along with him (and his famous Christmas morning Norwegian “monkies”… cardamom is the tits), and we lost it altogether when my grandmother passed. The consensus deemed Christmas “too difficult” for us to get together.
Christmas was always my grandmother’s favorite holiday. She went all out. Her trees were always something to inspire jaw droppage, but it wasn’t just the tree. It was the elaborate presents around the tree, sparkling with huge ribbons and ornaments hanging off of them, the house littered with her collection of Santa Claus statues and figurines. In fact, she had an entire room dedicated to crafting these occasions. We called it “the hobby room.” I was allergic to that damn “hobby room,” (stupid eucalyptus!) and every year I got stuck in it sniffling and scratching out my eyeballs, but it didn’t matter when I walked out into the living room and saw everyone there.
When my grandfather was around, he loved to have music playing at all times. Blasting. My cousins and I would dance around their big open living room overseeing the lake. We crashed into each other and swung each other around while big band orchestra music played on the speaker system until we fell dizzy on the floor. My aunts and uncles played tunes on his giant organ that permeated the entire house. My musical prodigy of a cousin would play his sax until everyone wept around the room. When my grandparents gifted my family a keyboard, my uncle quickly ran away with it and locked himself in a room to play it while we yelled, tears rolling down our cheeks, and pounded on the door.
The last time my extended family had music around them at a gathering was when we welcomed my uncle’s Austrian family to the states and danced together in the backyard to a live band (ah, nostalgia!), but never again during the holidays. Well, I’m over it. I want it back! I don’t care if Aunt Ruth has to say a million and one asinine things to get us snockered enough for us all to get us back on our feet again; it will happen.
So, I’m counting down the days till I can stuff my face again with pies, and conjure the memory of my grandmother and grandfather through music and dancing, once again. I think they’d like that.