Thanksgiving in the Effertz Household

Opening the old, paint chipped, and rusty metal door I enter into my Godmother’s house.  My boots are encrusted with white and soggy fresh fallen slow, so I quickly kick them off and leap onto the dry mat that has the word welcome on it.  I inhale and my nose fills with various smells and memories.  The aroma of perfectly spiced pumpkin pie reminds me of making pie with Nick’s grandma, and the scent of fresh yeast draws my eyes to the just-pulled-out of the oven buns. The golden brown buns perfectly rose while they were in the oven and they are calling my name asking for me to eat them.

Chatter, laughter, and joy fills my ears.  Listening to the cheery cries from relatives who I haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving brings a warm smile to my face.  My grandma shuffles over saying, “You’re almost taller than me, but I still need a hug because I’m your old grandma!”  From the other room I hear giggles of my twin cousins playing on their new toys, while I admire my Grandma grinning and looking proudly upon family.

The air in the house feels dry, yet the warmth of the fire in the antique fireplace fills my body like I had just drank a cup of warm tea.  I make my way out of the kitchen and into the next room to see a whole table filled with desserts.  I haven’t eaten all day so I can consume all of the food awaiting me.  My hands are drawn to the milk chocolate covered strawberries like magnets; they reach out to grab one only to be stopped by the crotchety sound of my grandma whispering in my ear, “You’ll ruin your dinner with one of those.”  Instantly, I know I’ve been caught and I look shamefully at the floor while my cheeks turn the color of the tomato salad next to me.

After an hour of being asked the basic family questions of, “How’s school?” “ Are you ready to be a senior next year?” “Are you still dating that boy?” and of course, “Where are you going to college?” are done I am finally able to sit down at the table with the one person similar to my age, my cousin Jack.

Jack and I have a pact to get each other out of awkward and unwanted conversations with relatives so we always make sure to be at family events together.  Although he’s only a year older than me, Jack appears to be in his 20’s. With a towering appearance of 6’3, a full scratchy blonde beard, and the deepest voice I have ever heard, he looks nothing like a 17-year-old boy.  We get assigned to our folding chairs (since we are the youngest there) sit down, fist bump, and begin staring at the endless amounts of food.

I can barely wait to eat all my scrumptious looking food, but I know I would be in for a beating if I eat before we pray and go around the table saying what we are thankful for.  One by one, left to right, each member of the family says what they have been thankful for this past year.  Of course the most popular topics are: friends, food, happiness, and everyone at the table.  Whenever someone says, “I am so thankful for everyone at this table and I can’t wait for another great year with you all.” It’s followed by a group, “awww!”  It is very cheesy but it has to happen at least one time every year, and I can’t imagine it stopping anytime soon.

Finally, it is time to chow down on the best and most filling meal that I will consume all year. My family eats Thanksgiving dinner two ways: family style, and by also using a buffet.  We start by taking the food that is near our empty plates, piling on as much food as our stomachs can hold, and then pass the dish to our right.  The next few minutes are filled with, “Hey! Can you pass the butter?” “Woah woah… don’t take the last roll, that one has my name on it!”  Then, there is silence from everyone in the room as each family member focuses of the mountain sized food piles in front of them.   The only noise that can be heard is the scratching of forks, knives, and spoons against the plates searching for more food.  Once people finish their first serving, the conversations begin to stir again. Words of praise for how delicious the food was fills the air, and my Godmother Lynn (the main chef) beams with happiness as the entire family shows their approval of the meal by scooping up seconds.

Once everyone is finished with their meals, the youngest cousins including Jack, Lindsay, Lauren, Ann, and myself begin to clear the table to make room for card games.  Jack and I politely ask, “Are you done with your meal?” and then grab the plates from the table.  We try to stack as many plates on top of each other as possible to be efficient, but every once in awhile the plates come tumbling down and hit the floor with an explosion of food bits in every direction!  Once the plates safely make their way to the kitchen they are handed off to the other cousins to be washed, dried, and put away in their respective places.

There is a competitive gene that runs through my family, and it even shows during cards games.  Now there is room around the old, chipped, and worn oval table to be surrounded by the perimeter with family of all ages to play our favorite card game, PIG.  PIG consists of loud arguments on who got the card first, ringing of bells, and slapping of hands on the hard wood table.  Once a winner is picked, the family moves on to dessert.

I am once again drawn to the buffet style table holding what seems like hundreds of decadent desserts.  My eyes can’t seem to focus on one item at a time; they dart back and forth starting at a burnt orange colored pumpkin pie, to caramelized coffee brown pecan pie, but finally my eyes end at a single slice of cherry pie.  The slice is encrusted with a perfect sugar coated crust, and is filled with beet red cherries.  I squeeze on a puff of whip cream and dig in.  My Thanksgiving night is ended surrounded by food filled and happy family members sitting around the table enjoying the presence of one another…and of course pie!