Now that Halloween is over, our skeleton family, the cast of friendly ghouls, and that pesky Headless Horseman were stuffed back into their storage tubs.
I once again ventured down to the damp basement and fought off the ever-growing family of spider crickets to store the tubs on shelves for yet another year. The task took less than an hour, but why did I spend the rest of the day in the basement?
No, this time it wasn’t my fondness for long-legged spider crickets, even though if you spend the time to train them, they are quite entertaining. I was looking for something that had been misplaced, possibly lost forever.
Frantically, I opened box after box, searched through and then replaced them back onto the shelf. I was looking for a precious memory … a distant reminder of Thanksgiving from a magical childhood spent growing up on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo. And I was determined not to leave the basement, or the horde of spider crickets, until it was found and ready to play its all-important roll in our Thanksgiving meal.
It was during our first Thanksgiving spent on Flamingo that the un-traditional tradition received its start. Only six years old at the time, I still remember the entire day. After all, how could I forget the day I broke Thanksgiving?
It started out how most mornings started in our house: with a pillow fight between my brothers and me. The pillow fight lasted only long enough for Older Brother Richard to find his football, Twin Brother Mark to find his soccer ball, and me to find a couple of tennis balls under my bed.
Balls were thrown hitting the walls, lamps and bouncing off our heads. It was much funnier than any pillow fight ever, and much louder. All the noise brought Dad barging into our bedroom yelling, “Stop! Clean up this mess now! Go see if your mom needs any help.” He also announced, “Time to start the eggs.”
It was our mom who cooked the entire dinner, but Dad made the deviled eggs. The way he went on about them, his eggs were the most important part of the meal – a part we would never forget. It’s been fifty-seven years since that day, and he was right. I’ve never forgotten.
Mom was already in the kitchen working on the feast that would be served around 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon. My three brothers, The Sister and I all piled into the small “L” shaped room at once. Instead of ushering us out so she could finish cooking, Mom paused just long enough to give each of us a special task.
Big Brother James had to vacuum the dining room, and Twin Brother Mark retrieved the good white candles, cloth tablecloth and napkins. Being the tallest, Richard got all the drinking glasses, while The Sister and I stacked the good plates from the china cabinet onto the side table. With Mom’s directions, we all set the table, being careful not to drop or break anything.
Our Thanksgiving dinner was ready and on the table by 1:00 p.m., along with a platter of Dad’s deviled eggs right in front of me. After each of us said what we were thankful for, Mom and Dad finished the blessing, and it was finally time to eat.
Dad asked me to pass him the eggs, and when I did, the glass platter slipped out of my hands falling to the floor upside down! There was a collective gasp from my brothers and The Sister as if all the air had been sucked from the room.
As silence descended, I thought my life was going to end, but then something marvelous happened. Dad looked at the floor full of the eggs he’d spent the last hour painstakingly making and picked up the chipped glass egg plate. Then he looked at me, then over at Mom, and started to laugh. Laughter enveloped all of us, and we giggled throughout the entire meal. It was the funniest Thanksgiving of my childhood.
It had taken all day in our basement with the spider crickets, but I finally found the glass egg platter from my childhood. The Wife had carefully wrapped it in our Thanksgiving tablecloth for safety. As I ran my finger over the chipped area, I thought back on that day and smiled.
Sometimes the perfect Thanksgiving meal isn’t — and that’s okay. A burnt turkey, a pie that doesn’t turn out well, or even a dropped platter of deviled eggs can make for the best — and most remembered — Thanksgiving ever.
From The Wife and me, here’s wishing you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving … and if it starts with an epic pillow fight or indoor ball throwing contest, even better.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]