One thing I forgot to mention that I am thankful for: my crazy insane extended family. (Repetition intentionally used for emphasis.)
See, my dad's side of the family is huge and also crazy. We always lived in Wisconsin and would have Thanksgiving with just the five of us and also my Grandpa (my mom's dad) for most of my life. There was parade watching, eating, and football watching all carried out in a mostly orderly manner. Now that we live in Texas, we were invited to family Thanksgiving at my aunt Nancy and uncle David's house. We were told that, including us, there would be twelve people. Which, if we had been thinking, we would have rounded up since obviously there were actually nearly twice that many people coming. Twenty-three Grahams crowded into my aunt and uncle's house and let me tell you, Grahams are not small people.
This is due, in large part, to the official Graham family pastime, eating. When we have a reunion, we plan a few years in advance and after the date and place are chosen, meal planning begins. Years in advance. We take it seriously. So just imagine how an eating-intensive holiday went. We are fortunate to have several talented cooks in the family, among them three generations of school lunch ladies who know how to cook in large portions. (My cousin Linda, last in the lunch lady line, has two teenage sons, neither of whom were amused when my sister asked them which of them was going to carry on the family tradition and don the hairnet.) Probably I did not need the second helping of stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. And if you think that in addition to turkey, ham, and miles of side dishes, there were not also five different desserts, then you have clearly not met my family.
The other thing that we take seriously is the art of scaring each other. The origin of this tradition, as near as we can tell, was when my dad as a kid would catch june bugs and throw them at my aunt Jody. So now there is pretty much always a fake roach and/or rubber snake around at every family gathering and it never ceases to fool people. The high point of the rubber snake joke came when my cousins put a huge one in their parents' bed that was apparently so convincing that my uncle Bo SHOT IT WITH A SHOTGUN (this is Texas, folks) leaving of course a rather large hole in their mattress. Then there was the time we roasted a pig on a spit when we rented a ranch for a reunion and the head and legs were arranged to look like the pig were sleeping in the bed of one of my female cousins. The screaming could be heard all the way to Oklahoma and parts of Kansas. Which sort of makes the little lizard that my cousin's son Kyle threw on my cousin/his aunt Laura on Thanksgiving look pretty tame by comparison, but it was still enjoyable for all of us. Well, except Laura.
Then once the dishes were done and all reptiles had been taken back outside, there was a white elephant exchange with gifts that Linda and Laura had bought. Of course there was lots of stealing other people's gifts, in many cases things that the stealer did not even want, but just took to be obnoxious. (Mostly this was my Dad and his protege in obnoxiousness, my cousin Brent. Who, coincidentally, is Kyle's father. We assume he is quite proud.) After the white elephant gifts were gone, there was Pictionary and the men loudly and repeatedly complaining about getting all of the hard words, right up until one of my cousins got "heart" and my brother got "Wisconsin". Bunch of whiners. And then people started leaving and, in what may be a first for us, we concluded an entire family event without one single person getting thrown in the pool. Mostly, I believe, because the nearest pool was several blocks away.
And there you have a peek inside the wild world that is a day with my family. Or one-third of my family, anyway. Tip of the iceberg, people.