Thanksgiving has always been a little different in my world. Now we all still have the turkey and potatoes and stuffing and pie, however, I’m fortunate enough to have two Thanksgivings.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing Thanksgiving dinner at my dad’s house on Thursday, and then at my mom’s house on Friday. This is my normal and I couldn’t be happier about it. In fact, this is so normal to me, that I forgot that this was abnormal to other people.
And although there are many similarities between my two dinners, they also couldn’t be more different.
Dinner at my dad’s house consists of the entire family being together: 20 people, one dog and two babies, a full house to say the least. By the time I roll out of bed, the food has already started to be made and football is already on the TV. My dad makes the turkey, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, and string beans, my stepmom makes the stuffing, my one aunt brings all the pies, my other aunt brings candied yams, and my third aunt and uncle bring the salad. We all eat dinner; an orchestra of passing dishes, pouring gravy, and cutting turkey. And usually, around the time my cousin starts crying because she’s laughing so hard, we’re on to dessert. And obviously the only reasonable thing to do is try one slice of each of the three pies. Because why wouldn’t you?
I’ll tell you, one of the best parts of hosting Thanksgiving dinner is being able to keep the leftovers. We get to have Thanksgiving food for days; it’s fantastic. After dinner, names get pulled for Secret Santa and casually the conversations draw to a close. We say our goodbyes (at least a half hour process in the Milano household) and see each other in a few weeks for Christmas.
Then my sister, brothers and I travel to our mom’s house for Thanksgiving round two on Friday. My mom and my stepdad make just about everything – the turkey, vegetables, stuffing and honestly the best potatoes au gratin you will ever eat in your entire life. This dinner is joined by my baby brother and family friends of my mom and stepdad. The conversation is hearty; my brother makes us all laugh and we always end talking about why reclining dinner chairs haven’t been invented yet. And then the best part of the day – dessert – follows. My mom makes the best pies ever: chocolate turtle cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and she’s always trying to make new ones, so there’s always an oddball there.
I didn’t realize it until recently, but I never really understood how amazing it is that my family makes this holiday work. Having divorced parents has the potential to make a lot of situations very uncomfortable. I feel very fortunate and very blessed that my family has made it work.
How amazing is it that my mom and stepdad don’t celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving because us kids wouldn’t be able to be there? I’m sure this could be something to complain about, and maybe it was when my mom and dad were working out the nitty gritty details. However, now it’s something that we embrace.
Thanksgiving has always been a little different in my world, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate Thanksgiving more and more. I look forward to seeing my family and I love being able to talk to them about life. I love that my family figured out a way to make the separation of households work. And I love being back home. I realize that my situation may not be normal, but I also realize that I’m very lucky to not only have one place to go for Thanksgiving, but two. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.