Thanksgiving in my family is a huge affair. For somewhere between 45 and 50 years, my father's family has been celebrating Turkey Day together. It started with my grandfather, his two sisters, and their eight young children. Over the years, as my father and his cousins got married and had children of their own, event attendance grew exponentially, and Thanksgivings began to run like a well-oiled machine.
Like most family get-togethers, ours is not without its quirks or hysterics. My dad is known to park himself on the couch closest to the kitchen so that he can get first dibs on all of the hors d'oeuvres. He can go head-to-head with anyone, devouring my aunt's pigs-in-a-blanket, my cousin's nine-layer dip, or my other cousin's cheese puffs by the handful. It's really not a fair match as my dad is relentless and must have a hollow stomach — he refuses to concede defeat, or even to concede to children and the elderly, until every last morsel has vanished.
Every cousin knows that after getting married, there is no question where Thanksgiving will be spent. Family devotion is celebrated with the "Robinson Family Quiz" — testing a newly engaged yet-to-be-family member in his or her Robinson Family knowledge. The person of honor is asked to stand during dinner and answer questions like, "Which cousin has been married more times than anyone else?" or "What is the Robinson Family drink of choice?" Only after the quiz is complete does the person of honor get the family's blessing to enter into marital bliss.
By the time my husband was the person of honor, he had been attending Thanksgiving with me for six years. As my entire family looked on, my husband confused my 7-year-old cousin with my 70-year-old great aunt, sending everyone into hysterical laughter. After a couple minutes — though it must have felt like an eternity of sheer agony to my husband — I began whispering him the answers.
True to any Turkey Day celebration, ours includes football, both the professional kind and the truly amateur, if not ridiculous, Robinson Family game. My cousin, who played football in college, looks on in disbelief as the family runs around in circles. And when this said cousin, the habitual quarterback, throws the ball, he never realizes his own strength, resulting in the annual Robinson Family nosebleed.
We always mark the end of the evening with a family picture, capturing our postprandial expressions for all eternity.
Over the years, as the family continued to multiply and grow, my great aunt passed the hostess baton to my aunt and her many cousins, who took turns hosting the festivities. Now it falls to the younger set. With all of the cousins of my generation, their spouses/dates and children, attendance will reach a whopping 44 this year. And guess who will be hosting the Turkey Day with this all-time record attendance? None other than yours truly!
I have always appreciated the honoring of tradition. Now as a parent, it seems my desire to uphold tradition for my children is so strong that I would volunteer to take on such a momentous task (this is my first time hosting). As the big day approaches, I'm not without my moments of "What was I thinking?" but I find I am more excited than anything else. I am excited that I'm now able to start a new set of memories, one not merely as a participant, but as a provider. I am thrilled that my boys will be experiencing the same family tradition as the previous four generations have. And I'm incredibly grateful that even if this is the only time I'm able to do so, right now I'm in a position to contribute to carrying on such a wonderful tradition.
More so this year than any other, I will not spend my Thanksgiving thinking about yesterday, tomorrow, or even next year. I will be thinking about what I have now, today, and how happy I am for it all...when I'm not frantically finishing up all the fixin's, that is!
May all of you be thankful for the wonderful things in your life (we all have them!), and may you have a holiday filled with family and love.