It’s almost Thanksgiving so I climb the stairs to our attic in search of a silver shoebox. I find it stacked between the plastic bag full of Easter baskets and the cardboard box stuffed with Christmas lights. Instead of shoes, my silver box now holds a small straw turkey and two matching pilgrims. Each November I take them out and carefully place them on our mantle above the fireplace in honor of the traditional Thanksgiving story.
I love this time of year and the simplicity of the holiday: food, family, gratitude. We’ve even served a few traditional Thanksgiving dinners at our house: mashed potatoes in a glass casserole dish with butter swirled on top, turkey that has been brined and carved, pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of whipped cream. But during those dinners, my husband and I realized that we were celebrating in this way because that’s what has always been done; because it is what one is supposed to do on Thanksgiving. And we realized that we really didn’t want to spend the holiday in the kitchen. I get cranky when I cook. Just ask my family. I even get moody when my husband cooks; there is the anticipation of all that pot washing after the meal. So we decided to start our own family tradition, to have our own Thanksgiving story.
For years we spent the Thanksgiving holidays in amusement parks. We road log flumes and roller coasters. We ate turkey legs on the run. We stood in line waiting for park shows in cold November rains. It was our version of a feast. And now those Thanksgiving days spent in the parks are some of our most cherished family memories.
My daughter is now 20 and away at college but she is coming home for the holiday. My son is a senior in high school and this will be his last Thanksgiving while living at home. I tell my husband that maybe it is time we had a proper Thanksgiving. So for a few days we discuss turkeys and table settings. But then I see that Cirque Du Soleil is in town for the holiday. We buy tickets. My son sees that there is a Thanksgiving Day Marathon downtown. He registers for the race.
This Thanksgiving we will sit together under the Big Top. We will stand together on city streets in the November cold to cheer on our son. We might even find some turkey legs to eat on the run. We will honor our own Thanksgiving story and I am deeply grateful.