thanksgiving family pic

A Braverman’s Thanksgiving 

December 2, 2022

   Then there are the family Thanksgivings that don’t even try to be special. They just naturally are. The Madigans Thanksgiving is in that category.

   All I ever wanted from my own family’s Thanksgiving traditions was a TV tray table, a football game and getting through dinner without anyone hurling a combination of threats or fists that would eventually involve local law enforcement, (Okay. That’s clearly an exaggeration – but only slightly. There was that time…)

   But this family? The Madigans? To say I’m punching above my weight in terms of familial peace and joy is truly an understatement. All families love each other. While my own trended more towards the Manson model, Carol’s is the reincarnation of the TV Parenthood Braverman.  I mean, Jesus, they even have a family soccer/baseball/football game before the dinner. And it’s not for show. They’re all seriously trying to win the game There are brushback, targeting and flop penalties all called by the patriarch who shamelessly favors the grandchildren. As it should be.

The Madigans apparently believe family is held together by an Elmer’s Glue of fun projects and crafts. Champagnes see family as something jerry-rigged and welded together by a terrified union scab.

   I watch this effusive panoply of love from the personal perch of  familial dysfunction with a mix of wonder and inspiration. Is it really possible that families like this actually exist without commercial interruption? It does occur to me that my own family was not that far off from the Madigans (providing you view the Madigans and Champagnes as, say, Ukraine and Russia.) Our Thanksgivings all started off with great recipes and anticipation before devolving into digging foxholes and trenches. Not the Madigans. The Madigans apparently believe family is held together by an Elmer’s Glue of fun projects and crafts. Champagnes see family as something jerry-rigged and welded together by a terrified union scab.

   Yet here I am amidst all this harmony and laughter like a happy Thanksgiving is no big deal, instead of the Hallmark fantasy I believe it must assuredly be. Carol frets whether a 22-pound turkey will feed the family.  My family would have been satisfied with any sized bird, since most of the guests would be leaving in a huff before the dinner rolls were ready. Tryptophan was our only salvation for things ending well.

   I exaggerate. My family is not as dysfunctional as I make them out to be. It’s  just the way I remember them. In truth it only takes one or two bad ones to color them all. 

   Carol preps the turkey here at home, fretting over the minutes per pound and the right cook temperature, which vary depending on which Google search you trust. She’s been roasting turkeys for more than forty years, yet the care and attention is as if she’s doing it for the first time. Nothing is routine, nothing is taken for granted. She moves from sewing up the bird and getting it in the oven to her famous deviled eggs that are the result of popular demand. She moves about the kitchen purposely but effortlessly. The only sounds are the staccato clang of utensils as the components of a Thanksgiving feast are put together like an orchestra tuning up. Pies are being baked, charcuterie is being assembled and the sides are being whipped up at other households, but the hum of an overture can faintly be felt above the rooftops. Only the Maestro is missing for the fifth year now. The understudy stands in the wings. He’s not prepared for this. How can he conduct the Ode to Joy, when all he’s familiar with is the 1812 Overture.

   Performed with real cannons.

  1. Mary says:

    Reid,
    As I come from the other side, I call them the Deutschman Madigan Super Family; you might say Madigan Deutschman. Robbie and I come from a large family that pretty much gets along, loves, and enjoys our greater family. This Super Family exceeds that. What they have created together is almost indescribable. You do it justice.

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