I have never been a big fan of Thanksgiving. I see and respect the importance of the holiday. But ever since my family passed 30 grandchildren, large family gatherings just haven't been the same. A few years ago I started finding other things to do on the Big Day of Turkey. For instance, one year I went to London. Another year, Prague. Sometimes I just made sure I was "stuck" working at the fire department. But on the bright side, going out of the country for Thanksgiving always makes me grateful to be an American.
Gigantic family holidays (you can't call them "big family gatherings" when there's over 50 people there) lost their appeal for me when we outgrew houses. My family is now so big, and there are so many of us living in Virginia (and apparently none of us ever go visit our other side of the family relatives on holidays), that we can't all fit into one house without causing damage to the foundation. So for the last several holidays we have met at the church.
Now the church does come equipped with plenty of tables, chairs, and a large commercial kitchen. But what it doesn't have is a cozy place to sit, a TV to watch, a football game, a backyard, a fireplace, Christmas tree, family photos, or an escape room. Well, I suppose there is an escape room. But really? Where is the fun in sneaking away from the family to go sit on the floor of a Sunday School classroom? My fun holiday memories include playing in my cousins' bedroom, singing to our newest tape, making up really dumb dance routines, or gossiping on the bed. They by no means included using industrial vaccuum cleaners and orange carpeting. What kind of memories will my youngest cousins have of holidays? Green hymnals and being told not to run in the church?
I tried hard not to be in Virginia for this particular Thanksgiving. But the money fairy didn't make it to me in time, so I'm not only stuck in country, I'm stuck at home. I'll be driving four hours away to eat my turkey in a church. Actually, who are we kidding? I'm be driving four hours (being the person who has the farthest to drive, except maybe Colette. She may have 4 miles farther than me to drive.) to beat the people who had less than an hour to drive, and have to sit around and wait for everyone to finally show up. And of course, since it is Thanksgiving, I can't exactly stop and get something to snack or eat on my way. (I will of course bring my own Diet Dr P to keep me awake and alive.) So after driving four hours and getting there starving, I will sit and wait another two hours till everyone actually arrives and reheats their food and sets the buffet table. (Forget all sitting at one table and passing the food around. We sit at a dozen smaller tables, and go through a buffet line.) Now because I am the second oldest cousin, that means that pretty much everyone else my age is married or moved off. So basically, there are few people to actually talk to. I will have a few very short conversations (I hate to use the word patronizing or condescending, but well...) with each aunt and/or uncle. I'll attempt to have a conversation with a few of the younger cousins who are half my age. And I'll coo and play with the youngest cousins. And that is about it. I won't have anything close to a meaningful conversation. I'll overeat for a solid twenty minutes. And then drive the four hours back to NoVa, only stopping at 7-Eleven for more Diet Dr P (cause heaven knows there will be no caffeine within a mile of a McBride Family function).
On the bright side, the food will be good. McBrides never disappoint when it comes to food.
But is food ever worth an 8 hour drive?
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