Nov 162011
Authors: Lydia Jorden

It was so peaceful. I woke up with the smell of succulent turkey, the anticipation of tasting the savory stuffing and the sweetness of the tiramisu.

This is how my friends describe their Thanksgivings. But my Thanksgiving mornings are quite different.

On that interesting morning in November, I wake up to pots and pans falling, crashing together, while my mom yells, “Where is the $%#*ing casserole dish?”

For as long as I remember, Thanksgiving at my house has never run smoothly.

I would wake up around 9 a.m. to doors slamming, phones ringing and the smell of burning food. My dad is chasing the loose dog through fences and doors, my cousins are running late due to a flat tire, and my mom is so caught up in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that the turkey starts smoking.

I still believe that pre-gaming with numerous glasses of wine is the only reason my parents stay sane throughout the entire day year after year. The wine helps subdue the excitement of anticipating more than 25 family members joining us to discuss what we’re thankful for — like our crazy aunt failing to show up.

We begin our festivities with our favorite traditional turkey Beanie Baby game. The game involves telling a unique or interesting story about oneself on a given topic. The only person allowed to talk is the person holding the turkey. The game concludes with every participant voting on their favorite narrative, and whoever wins gets to keep the turkey for the entire year, until we all come together again.

A few years ago, the winner was my grandma, who told about how she found a diamond that fell out of her wedding ring in a parking lot years after it happened.

My favorite topic is always marriage because, if things continue going the way they are, I will be unable to participate in this category for quite a while. But I’ll save you my sorrowful tale of loneliness (the elders always found a way to ostracize the single).

After my grandma takes the spotlight, it’s my grandfather’s turn.

Politics always seem to play a strong role in our Thanksgiving dinner discussions. My adamant Republican grandfather always found a way to start a debate on a topic that would upset everyone. My adamant Democratic sister — think bawling her eyes out when George W. Bush won the election — would always need to refute anything he said — and believe me, he said a lot.

These types of discussions normally lead to my father yelling, my grandfather rolling his eyes, me crying and my mother leaving the room with the faint voice of my grandmother in the background, not realizing any of this is happening and telling a story about how she thinks her neighbor is a drug dealer:

“Oy vey! First she comes, then she leaves, then a man shows up at her house, they leave together, she comes home, and it’s one in the morning. I mean, who in their right mind comes home at one in the morning? Mashugana!!!”

But things have changed in recent years.

Having moved to the desolate tundra of Wyoming, fewer and fewer family members are willing to fly out. My grandparents decided to keep things simple at their house by having a small family dinner. The other side of my family is dispersed throughout the country, so it’s hard to get us all together.

There are some days when I miss having us all together, but I look toward the bright side of this year’s Thanksgiving.

My sister will be flying back from her job, and I am excited to finally experience that smaller Thanksgiving day with a small group that matters most to me.

After all, what is Thanksgiving without surrounding yourself with the people who make you laugh, keep you entertained and will always be there for you?

It’s not the crazy traditional games my family has or the petty fights that we get into that evoke emotions of gratitude. Knowing that a support system is always there for me really sums up what I am thankful for — even if that means wholeheartedly accepting my crazy, overbearing, politically-minded, mashugana of a family.

Lydia Jorden is a junior business major. Her column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at

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