For the first time in five years, I celebrated Thanksgiving at home. Before this year, the last time I had been with my family for the holiday was when I was in Grade 12, before I had started university.
Thanksgiving has always been a big production for my family. My aunt, an excellent chef, cooks a huge turkey, mashes potatoes to a creamy pulp, and makes a couple other side dishes. Everyone else in the family contributes a dish, usually a vegetable-based accompaniment. My grandma makes pumpkin pie, including the crust, from scratch.
Every year I’ve been there, my grandma has never been happy with the pie. Despite everyone else’s insistence that the pie is delicious, she finds a problem with it. This year, she claimed the crust was too thick. Another year, she thought the pie was “crunchy.” Yet another year, she said she’d bought the wrong brand of canned pumpkin, so the filling didn’t taste right.
I celebrated Thanksgiving in a different location every year when I was at university. Most years I went home with friends, to be with their families. One year I didn’t go home with anyone, and stayed in residence with the 12 or so other remaining girls, most of whom were international students.
It was interesting for me to see how other people celebrated Thanksgiving. One family ate their dinner at 3 p.m. Another had different vegetable side dishes than I was used to. No one else celebrated it with their entire extended family.
Despite the different foods or eating time, there were more similarities than differences. My friends’ families were always welcoming and happy to have me, just like my family. They were accommodating of the fact that I don’t eat meat, and let me contentedly eat the vegetables without forcing the turkey on me, just like my family.
I’m lucky to have the friends I made at university. They were my family when I needed them to be.
My real family worries a lot. They worry about being late for Thanksgiving dinner, or the gravy being too thin, or the turkey being too dry, or the pie crust being too thick. Even though my family worries a lot about things that don’t matter, they’re still my family. My family are the only people in my life I didn’t choose. They’re also the only people I never had to make an effort for. They give their love unconditionally.
This year’s Thanksgiving had all the food I remembered. After dinner, I talked to my cousin, who has been living in Ontario for university for the past six years and who I only see a couple times a year. We talked about our childhoods, and about activities we did together when we were younger. We laughed about the things we did.
I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my friends, who were always there when I needed them. I’m thankful for my family, who accept me and my non-turkey eating ways.
I’m also thankful for delicious pumpkin pie, and a grandma who strives to make the ideal pie every year.
This year’s pie was delicious, and the crust was perfect.