I was always in trouble on Thanksgiving. It never failed. I’d get caught up in some kind of mischief with my step cousin. You’d find me raking the leaves or lying in my bed while the rest of the family was gathering around the table enjoying a nice feast. My step uncle would pop in to tell me he was sorry for having to tell my step father what we did — especially now that it was a time to be thankful and with family. Perhaps that’s why he felt the need to apologize. “It just wasn’t right. What you boys did.” He would say — even though I would argue that it was Chris’s fault. That didn’t matter, of course. In the eyes of God, we had both fallen short of his glory. But somehow, Chris got off easy — most likely because he was an only child and Jesus was more forgiving of him. I was older and should have known better anyway.
In later years, when mom divorced and Chris and I grew further apart and unable to conduct our boyish schemes, I remember waking up for the first time and not having to rake the leaves on Thanksgiving. It became a tradition for me to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I enjoyed the excitement. Watching the choreographed marches and listening to the bands — especially from Texas — inspired me. I’d sit in front of the TV all morning while mom — whom normally didn’t like to cook — would try to put something together for us. She wanted us to be more of a family. My sisters and brother would eventually stumble into the living room, rubbing the sleep from their eyes after being aroused by the sweet smell of prepackaged buttermilk biscuits warming in the oven. My siblings looked like zombies following the scent and commotion taking place in the front part of our Section 8 housing unit.
We ate turkey for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We were never ungrateful because we knew not everyone would have this luxury. The first time mom asked me to say grace, I literally thought she meant the word. Then, it became a laundry list of blessings — especially for not being in trouble again. We all held hands and took turns to say what we were thankful for. That was a rare sight. The rest of the year would almost certainly be monkey business.