Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  It’s all about coming together as a family for the sole purpose of enjoying each others company and sharing a great meal.   My aunt and uncle always host Thanksgiving.  They go all out for the party, renting tables and chairs, napkins, tablecloths and silverware.  Over the years we seem to have gathered our own family traditions.  Each year everyone is assigned a dish to bring.  However two things never change.  Mom is always in charge of the pies and my aunt and uncle make the turkey.  Everything else is up for grabs.  As the family begins to arrive the cars fill the driveway and line the street. We meet and greet for an hour or so, laying the food out on the expansive kitchen island, keeping it covered and warm until it’s time to eat.

But first, a round of ping-pong and darts must commence.

The rounds of games in the garage mark the official beginning of the party.  I steer clear of the darts as I seem to hit everything except the dart board.  Hubby however seems to be a pro at darts and it’s usually a good game trying to beat his record of bull’s-eye hits.

The ping-pong game is much less structured.  This is where everyone’s competitive side begins to show.  To play a successful game, there’s no need to track points.  Just keep the ball in the air and moving.  If the ball bounces off the garage door, onto the floor or even across the room, no problem.  Just run for it and keep it moving.  If it flies right into the path of the dart players, you’d better run after it, hoping a flying dart doesn’t come too close.

After everyone works up a sweat and is exhausted from laughter, it’s time to start dinner.

The meal can last for hours and yet there are always leftovers for days.  Mini conversations surround the table as we all catch up with each other.  As the meal winds down we all start trading spots to join in conversations.

After dinner there’s a quick clean up.  Coffee is made and served.  And now it’s mom’s time to shine.  It’s on to the pies.
This year she made six pies.  Two of everything: Apple pie, pumpkin pie and as a special treat for Hubby who hates to eat pie except for only one…a rich and delicious pecan pie. One entire pecan pie was kept aside just for Hubby to take back home.  However, it has already been devoured, having  only survived half the weekend.

After dessert and coffee everyone gathers on the stairs for our annual Thanksgiving family photo which will undoubtedly make it’s way into the Christmas family calendar.  It’s the same experience every year.  My aunt sets the camera over on the kitchen island, stacked precariously on a pile of books.  It takes five or six takes of setting up the timer before it finally works.  Once we all see the timer flash turn on, all of us on the stairs yell in a frenzy “go, go, go, go!!!” as my aunt runs over to the stairs.

The Thanksgiving family photo is revealed in our annual Christmas calendar as the featured photo for November.  We thought, “what fun it would be to memorize where everyone stands each year and we could make a flip book of everyone getting older”.  Perhaps we’ll do that starting next year.

Within ten minutes the rented tables and chairs are stacked away in the garage, the couches are brought back in and everyone gathers in the living room.  This is my favorite part of the night.  My older sister pulls out her guitar and song book and the entire family joins in singing their favorite tunes.  It’s an impromptu two-hour concert of great music and fun and everyone joins in.

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