Friday, November 28, 2008

The Perfect Thanksgiving

Happy Black Friday! To all you sane people who are not out shopping, here're some more thoughts on Thanksgiving. Thanks, Andy. What a wonderful column (even if it did make me cry)!

What's your perfect Thanksgiving?
Posted by Andrew Heller / The Flint Journal November 24, 2008 13:13PM
Categories: Andy's Journal columns

Don't you wish you could live the perfect Thanksgiving?

None of us ever has. But most have had moments of perfection at a bunch of Thanksgivings that in our memory get squashed together to form sort of a utopian day. It's the day we long for that never comes because it can't.

But what if, just once, it did? What if you could have one perfect Thanksgiving?

Mine would look like this:

Cartoon smell tendrils of turkey and cinnamon rolls -- a glorious mix of breakfast and dinner -- would waft down the basement stairs, grab me from slumber and drag me upstairs.

In the kitchen, mom would say, "Go watch TV until breakfast is ready."

Hey, no problem there. Thanksgiving morning has the parades from all over. New York, Chicago, Toronto, Detroit. Such exotic places. To a kid anyway, especially a kid raised in the Upper Peninsula.

I loved the parades. Every kid did way back then. (Kids these days can't be bothered. I try to interest my kids. No go. What's a parade when you've got Xbox?)

After parades, a big breakfast with my whole family -- dad at one end, mom at the other, the six of us in between. Somehow my wife and kids are there, too. Everyone is loud, happy, in pajamas.

We eat 'til we bust.

Then we shower. Then I play football or Hot Wheels with my brothers and kids. Dad puts on a fire and plays albums on his Quadraphonic music system. The kids all take turns trying to find the sweet spot in the middle of the room where you really can hear four distinct sounds.)

Then it's time for the Detroit Lions game on TV. At halftime, my mom brings in a tray of cheese and crackers to "tide us over" until dinner. We're still stuffed from the late breakfast, but we eat anyway. It's Thanksgiving.

The Lions win. (This is a fantasy, remember?) My grandmothers come over. At some point, Grandma Jean, the Scottish princess, stands between my dad and the TV, which she used to do to get his attention to ask a question. Man, he hated that. We kids thought it was hysterical.

Then my Grandma Rose -- the Southern belle -- would play Cribbage with me and my dad. When he would get up to fetch a drink, we would cheat and stock my hand with 5s, astonishing him with a 25-point crib.

At some point, I'd tease Rose about her South Carolina accent, so out of place in the U.P., which would be her cue to tell me to "Go to the first four letters of your last name." (Sounds harsh, I know, but she was kidding. We all loved it.)

Then it's into the kitchen to snitch pickles and olives off the "relish" tray, as my mom used to call it.

Then dinner. Oh, dinner. The table is covered with a red cloth and candles. The good dishes are out, the ones we only see twice a year. And the food. Oh, my. The table looks like an English king's feast, minus the roast pig biting the apple.

We eat. We dessert. We clear. We wash dishes.

The evening is here. We play games. We laugh. We snack. No one fights. No one is sad or dead or missing or scattered to the winds and not able to make it.

Finally, I drop into bed, happy and full in more ways than one.

And then I drift off to sleep.

Wishing it could always be thus.

Got something on your mind? E-mail Andy at

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