Sometimes you can't fully appreciate Thanksgiving until the leftovers are served. Our images of the Thanksgiving table creaking under bowls heaped with the bountiful harvest and the "Hallmark inspired" loving interaction between family drive the expectations for this holiday to an almost unattainable level. We make too much food and we try to force family interaction. Unfortunately, the large gathering and the full table make it difficult to fully enjoy the individual.
We started Wednesday night with chili and Scrabble at my house. The Scrabble game was one of the more amusing I have played. My brother and nephew came after most people ate and after the Scrabble game began. My nephew acted as roving helper. Coining words and selling them is his forte. Unfortunately for him, I am a hard sell. My sister and I know too many words, but we laughed until tears were dripping. Next, we drove to Mother's house and had birthday cake for my niece. My sister's son came home with us. I was scared that he and Pink Panther would stay up all night, but I checked on them at 11:30 and they were sound asleep.
The actual Thanksgiving Day festivities seemed quiet because my brother was at his in-laws, but the house was still full. Counting my little sister's new baby, there were fifteen (of 20) of us. There was an enormous quantity of food: a green salad with pears, walnuts and blue cheese, turkey, cornbread dressing, green beans, spinach, homemade rolls, sweet potatoes, pound cake, fruit cake, pecan pie, brandied fruit, and cranberry sauce. I may have forgotten something. Most ate more than needed, but there were still leftovers.
I love Thanksgiving leftovers more than the real meal. True, the ambiance is not of the Thanksgiving quality, but at the big meals there is simply too much food to enjoy anything. Today, for lunch I had Southern Cornbread Dressing with Cranberry Sauce. For supper, I had a piece of Pecan Pie. By the way, the pie was better with honey. Everyone, including my dad, thought it was the best. Eaten individually I could savor the flavors. I could taste the honey in the pie and the onion in the dressing. Yesterday, everything blended.
I think family gatherings are the same. I love the big festivities when everyone is together and other obligations (like work, school, and activities) are not distracting or limiting, but I can't fully enjoy the individuals in my family when we are sharing such a limited time and space. I've noticed that when our whole family is together, the individuals gravitate toward their childhood roles in an adult way. I, too, find myself easing into my traditional place of comfort, even though I am aware I am doing it. Amusing on the surface, not allowing for growth and change can prove offensive. As far as I know we didn't have any seriously hurt feelings or explosions, but I don't feel that I connected anyone. I wish there were leftover days for brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and parents.