I’m not very good at Thanksgiving.

This is probably because I’m Australian and didn’t observe the holiday at all until I married an American three years ago and brought a whole second culture into my life. Since then, I’ve made a few attempts to bring the magic and tradition of Thanksgiving into our home.

On one occasion I had everything sorted out, and then realised I didn’t know how to make mashed potatoes. Apparently there’s more to it than a small sack of potatoes and a medium sized hammer.

Another year I bought a portion of turkey that turned out to be ham. I got Thanksgiving so wrong I managed to buy entirely the wrong meat.

Well… I say wrong. It was freaking delicious. Although apparently discovering it was ham and not turkey would have been good before I baked it. I’ve been told by a lot of people since this incident that baking ham is really weird. Those people don’t know what they’re missing. They’re probably happy to keep it that way. Fine.

This year I had an absolutely foolproof plan to make it the best Thanksgiving Kim’s ever had. One final great plot to show her that Australians know how to make the most of Thanksgiving.

We went to America.

It was actually Kim’s first Thanksgiving with her family in ten years, so it was really nice for us to be able to head into Ohio again and get settled for a real mid-west family traditional Thanksgiving. They did not disappoint.

The first thing to realise is that there is absolutely nothing to do in Ohio except eat. So when it comes around to the time when families traditionally get together and do nothing except eat (and give thanks, presumably), it’s really time for the locals to shine.

I’ve written before about the Americans’ complete and utter disregard for the boundary between savoury and sweet. So I wasn’t even a little bit surprised when the first appetiser they brought out was prunes wrapped in bacon. I was however, completely taken aback by how good they were. It seemed every guest had brought some crazy new snack for us to try. That’s fairly normal I guess, except for the other crazy Thanksgiving tradition.

There were thirty-seven of us.

I thought by now I had managed to meet pretty much all of Kim’s side of the family. I haven’t quite managed the full bingo card yet; I’m still missing a couple of cousins and a great uncle who I’m convinced is imaginary anyway. This year I met Cousin David and spent a good ten minutes trying to nut out how he’s related to us. It turns out he isn’t; he was at Thanksgiving because he’s a close friend of Cousin Kate. The fact that Cousin Kate wasn’t there because she’s in Germany was of course, irrelevant.

This isn't even close to being all of us.

Nonetheless, it still turns out there are entire sets of relatives I have no idea about. And to be honest, having now met one such set, I’m still more or less oblivious. I think I’ve just about reached my upper limit on how many family members I can hold in my brain. If Kim’s family gets any bigger I may have to start deleting some of my own cousins.

I’ll probably start with Cousin Alfred. Aaaaaaaaaand… Bam! It’s like he never existed.

Meanwhile back in Cleveland, even in our aunt and uncle’s freaking huge house there isn’t quite room around the dining room table for thirty seven people, so we managed to set up a kids’ table in the rumpus room, which was actually just a ping pong table with a tablecloth and some candles on it. Also, the cut off age for relegation to the kids’ table was thirty-five, so Kim and I just scraped in. It was definitely the coolest table anyway, right? I was a little surprised that we didn’t actually do the whole going around the table one by one and saying what we were thankful for thing, but on the turkey may well have gotten cold if we’d tried that out. Maybe that’s just on TV?

The other cool thing I discovered this year was that I’m no longer the newest arrival. Kim and I got married three years ago and we’ve been back a couple times since, but this was the first family gathering I’ve been at with members and applicant members added more recently than me. One fiancé and a couple of boyfriends/girlfriends of cousins along for the first time made me feel much better about having no idea what was going on most of the time.

Fortunately I was able to keep it fairly simple. There is nothing to do in Ohio except eat, and that suited me just fine.

Besides... an unexpected adventure was just around the corner...

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