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Pungent November scents fill the air on Thanksgiving day. The roast turkey at the center of it all, stuffing oozing from the seams. Homemade mashed potatoes and sweet potato balls rolled in brown sugar and walnuts, fresh cranberry sauce and –my personal favorite– the canned/gelled variety. I’d sneak in & steal parts of crisp turkey skin as my father was making the ceremonial slices. And once we were sufficiently stuffed and well-napped, with the endless melody of football as a backdrop, we’d return again to the table for apple and pumpkin pies with Nana’s homemade sweet sauce. These are the familiarities we come to rely on each Thanksgiving day. Like Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want painting depicting a traditional feast– so much food to be thankful for. And each other. Our family: mom and dad, me and my two siblings– until we grew and we grew and we grew.

Before we knew it, we acquired step members, and spouses and kids of our own. Our Thanksgiving tradition was morphing to accommodate our current statuses. Soon, other familial obligations took hold– the in-laws wanted to be part of the tradition as well, which prompted us to establish new traditions. Every other year, we’d all eat as a family, but it was those in between years that we missed not being all together. It seemed just not quite right to be giving thanks on a day when we couldn’t be with everyone we were so thankful for.

So, we created a new tradition: family film on Thanksgiving night. No matter where we spent Thanksgiving meal, we’d agreed to commune at a central local to enjoy a film which brought in the new holiday season: Christmas. My children were little when we began it (now in our eleventh year) and new children have been born and have taken there place as the current little ones. The challenge has always been finding something we all will appreciate: big and small, young and old. The underlying premise, a film released on Christmas day. Among them Eight Crazy Nights, Four Christmases, A Christmas Carol, Elf, The Santa Clause 3, How the Grinch Stole Christmas… Now, that my children are nearly all grown, the first question that arises in talking about the holiday season is, “What movie are we seeing this year?” It’s one they research as soon as possible in order to get the seal of approval from the aunts and uncles and cousins; Nonni and Poppy and Marguerite and Clarence always go along with whatever we decide and are simply just happy that their families are all together.

This year our selection is Rise of the Guardians. Just another year, and another film to end Thanksgiving and welcome Christmas with all of the people we are most thankful for.

 

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