Entry Thirty-six: Thanks.

[I'm taking a break from the other stories to bring you this holiday-themed chestnut in seven parts. Today: 2 of 7]

All twenty-three of us clapped politely although the spread that was laid before us probably deserved a standing ovation. The dining room table had been stretched to the maximum using every available extension leaf and it was covered in food, place settings and classy table top arrangements of pinecones, toile and dried, multi-colored corn cobs. It was overwhelming, the combination of colors and smells all mingling perfectly to tease eyes and noses, and it was killing me to have to wait to eat, but we weren’t even close to picking up our forks. Father continued.

“As most of you know, the O’Neil’s have a little tradition at Thanksgiving and I would like to invite everyone to join us this year before we break bread.” My uncle kicked me but was staring straight down into his empty plate. The rest of our guests were reacting one of two ways. The ones who had no idea what was coming were smiling, their eyes full of anticipation, possibly expecting a gift or, at minimum, a handshake or hug. The veterans were sporting wide-eyed looks of fear, especially the ones who forgot what was coming and were not prepared. Their palpable fear helped me relax. This had a chance of being fun.

“What we like to do is go around the table and have each one of you share with us one thing you are thankful for. There is only one rule and that is you can’t repeat what someone else has said. That gives us a chance to hear a wide variety of responses before we pray and thank the Lord for all he has provided for us.” He scanned the faces at the table, smiling at them all, seemingly unaware of the knotted guts and dry mouths his little speech had just induced. “Aunt Rose, why don’t you start?” And so it began.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle

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