We looked at each other. That had to be Mom -- she's about the only one we know that bothers to ring the bell. (Everyone else pretty much walks in and yells, "Anyone home?" or just sits down and turns on the TV. We're a fairly informal bunch.)
I went out and gave her a big hug. "How's my mom doing?" I asked, kissing her on the top of her head. (Mom's five-foot-two. I'm five-foot-seven. It works out.)
"Oh, I'm not feeling too well," she said, "but I did want to come be with the family."
"Well, I'm really glad you came," I told her. And I was: I really was. The first few years after their divorce, Mom couldn't bear to come over for Thanksgiving, and I don't blame her. After all, she had loved this house, and it was no longer hers. That had to be painful every time she walked in the door. When she began to be able to visit again, it was a relief for all of us. After all, what's Thanksgiving without Mom?
Various pleasantries were exchanged, and Mom gravitated towards her grandson. At some point, I ended up back in my office where I remained until I heard Mom calling that it was time to sit down.
This, now, this would be the true test. I swallowed hard, and tried to calm myself, as I walked out into the dining room. When I got there, however, I was shocked.
I looked at the table, and there was turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, butter and jam. A bottle of sparkling apple cider sat waiting for our traditional toast. In point of fact, other than the fact that the turkey was not attached to a giant dead bird, we had everything, absolutely everything, that we usually had on Thanksgiving!
Even Mom seemed to be feeling a lot better as we all set to on the food. We bantered a bit, and laughed over previous Thanksgivings. Everyone loved the food. Everyone was ... pleasant! And joyful! And, dare I say it, happy!
Somehow, beyond all expectations, we had achieved How Thanksgiving Should Be. I felt about as surprised as the Grinch who stole Christmas when he finds all the Who's down in Whoville happily holding hands and celebrating without their presents. "They're not sad at all -- they're singing! They're singing!"
Even the cinnamon pumpkin pie went over well! In fact, despite Dad's and my worry that the whole "cinnamon" thing would blow the deal, everyone declared it was the best pumpkin pie they'd ever had!
It was ... amazing. It was happy and peaceful and no blood was shed! In short, it went the way our Thanksgivings usually go, only even better.
Later that evening, after Nick, Taylor, and Mom had gone home, Dad and I sat in the kitchen and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Dad. Dude." I said. "You pulled it off!" I gave him a high-five, as we grinned at each other.
"I wouldn't have given two cents for our chances yesterday," said Dad, shaking his head in wonderment.
"I know," I agreed. "Good thing they had dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie at Honey Baked Hams!"
"I can't believe that pumpkin pie," he mused. "'That was the best pumpkin pie ever!' Did you hear Nick say that?"
We sat there for a moment, just basking in the triumph of the day. After a bit, I turned to Dad.
"And you were worried," I said.
We looked at each other for a moment and broke up laughing. I'd say, despite incredible odds, this turned out to be one of the best Thanksgivings ever.
And .... curtain!