One great thing about living in a multi-cultural home is that Ellie gets to celebrate both American and Japanese holidays.  Thanksgiving wasn’t so much about pilgrims and native Americans in our house this year. It was more about east meets west. Aya’s parents were in town from Japan to visit, and we were able to include her family with our regular Thanksgiving dinner this year. The typical crowd is us, my folks, my brother Patrick, his wife Kristen, grandma, my good friend Rob, and his fiance Jesse. And also this year, Aya’s parents.

The day started with me baking my pumpkins pies from scratch. Yes, from scratch. I’m very proud that I use a real pumpkin when baking my pies. The crust is store bought though. I haven’t ventured into making my own crust yet. Maybe one day. The empty pumpkin shells sit on the counter and remind me of my stomach; empty and anxious to be filled. My mom is an excellent cook and Thanksgiving dinner has to be one of the best meals I eat all year. We have the typical fixings; stuffing in and out of the bird, rolls, corn, brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole. Rob has Japanese roots, so he brought gyoza for appetizers.

As everyone arrives we all start to settle into our positions. My dad and Aya’s parents reminisce about the time my parents went to Japan. Kristen and Aya help my mom in the kitchen. Rob and Jesse visit with my brother, and I make sure my 90 year old grandma doesn’t “accidentally” say anything inappropriate to anyone. Luckily she just talked about her dog Ladybug. We used to do a pre and post weigh-in, and one year grandma called me a fat *ss. So we stopped doing the weigh-in, and believe you me, I haven’t let grandma forget what she called me. When grandma met Aya for the first time, she told her that I was full of sh*t. She said it in a lovingly way though. She also uses the term “sh*t *ss” in an endearing way too, and uses it repeatedly. So knowing grandma’s history it was my job to make sure she didn’t say anything like this to Aya’s parents because chances are it would get lost in translation and they wouldn’t get it.

We all gather at the table and say grace. My brother sits at one end, and my dad at the other. My brother says, “Hey dad, toss me a roll.”  After my dad hurls the ceremonial roll across the table, it’s officially time to eat. And boy did we eat. I had seconds before everyone even finished their firsts. So did Aya. We are the big eaters come Thanksgiving. Well, at any family meal actually. More so Aya than me. This girl can put it away. She puts the “all you can eat” in “buffet”. When it comes to the Thanksgiving meal, I think I love the sides more than the turkey. I like the turkey, but I usually prefer it leftover. I like to gnaw on the leg bone cold, huddled on the floor with the fridge door open. It tastes better that way. Ahh… I love Thanksgiving.

Every year we take a family photo. We do a serious one, and then a “goofy” one. But we are running out of ideas for the “goofy” one. We have already done jazz hands, zombies, the “I see a UFO” pose, and the “Andy Williams Christmas Special” pose. What else is left right? I usually lie on the floor with my pants unbuttoned and groan in agony as my dad sets up the camera. It’s not only a camera, but he has those big flash umbrellas and he tests the light levels and all. And where ever the camera is, is where I like to be. So I practice my Sears catalog poses for the test shots instead of lying on the floor. Finally, we take the picture and then it’s time for pie!

We have two kinds of pie. Apple pie and pumpkin pie. I’ve been making the pumpkin pie for a number of years now, and my mom bakes the apple pie. They are both delicious! I can’t handle seconds, but I get some anyways. Mmmm… Pie…

The entertainment for the evening was definitely Ellie. She was on fire all day. She was so happy and so playful and so good. With all the excitement, all the people, and all the attention, she crashed pretty hard.

I have to say, for Ellie to have her first Thanksgiving with the whole family, with both sets of grandparents under the same roof, that’s something to be thankful for. And even though our “American” way may not necessarily be the “traditional” way to some, it is our family tradition, quirks and all, and I’m thankful for it.

“You’re so cute I could just eat you up!”

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