Today is American Thanksgiving and I’m one of the many folks (hopefully, dear god hopefully) who is choosing not to celebrate the holiday with a big family gathering. It sucks, but it’s a necessary sacrifice so that we can all be safe, healthy, and alive to spend next Thanksgiving together.
Even without the spectre of covid hanging over us, it’s been a long time since my extended family gathered together and had a good old-fashioned Thanksgiving meal. I miss my mother’s turkey and my aunt’s dressing (she always made two kinds: oyster and non-oyster). I miss my other aunt’s collard greens and her black-eyed peas and the sweet potatoes she garnished with marshmallows and pecans. Most of all, I miss my granny’s dinner rolls, who no one’s been able to recreate since she passed away last January.
There are those of us who, whether through covid-imposed isolation or other bittersweet reasons, will be spending the day with our video game families instead of our real ones. Here’s what I think my video game family would bring to the Thanksgiving feast.
This man does not cook. There’s no way to know if he simply can’t or won’t. If he can’t do it in the microwave, it will not be done. He relies on others, specifically women, to feed his child. Not because he has antiquated thinking about gender roles, but because sometime deep in his past a kitchen morally wronged him and he forswore cooking forever after.
He can grill his ass off though. Even though it’s Thanksgiving, expect a perfect brisket.
Grace Walker is the kind of Black auntie who cooks the Thanksgiving feast cussing and fussing with a cigarette in her hand the entire time with not nary an ash spilled. She’s the only auntie who can cook cook and is the only one granted the privilege of making the macaroni and cheese. It is foolish to ask her for the recipe—measurements, timing, and ingredients change according to her will—but it tastes the same and so damned good every time. There is a reason your older relatives will not eat macaroni and cheese not prepared her hand and will verbally destroy anyone who tries to usurp her hallowed position. Does not eat pork.
Athena is the bougie aunt who thinks she’s better than everyone else because she got an advanced degree and studied abroad in Greece for a few years. She occasionally ducks out of the celebration to put out some fire at work by “granting a boon.” You don’t know what she does, but you get the feeling all her coworkers are jerks.
She brings store-bought cookies for dessert that no one eats.
Like Barret, she does not cook. Never learned. Feeds herself exclusively through DoorDash. She’s very helpful though, and always eager to assist in the kitchen. Auntie Grace frequently chases her out because she’s in the way. The family matriarch chastises her for “yelling at her baby.”
Cullen is the white boyfriend everyone tolerates because he’s cute and deeply religious. Has to be told to take off his shoes. Wonders aloud where all the casseroles are.
Sazh is the uncle who insists everyone calls him “unc.” He is the party uncle and the Thanksgiving DJ. Frequently puts on the old hits that everybody knows but will still say “whatchu know about this right here?” to his younger nieces and nephews. Adores his young son.
Does not bring anything except a deck of cards. Will murder the entire family at Spades.
Clementine’s friend from school who looked kinda sad and pathetic so she brought him home with her. Is somehow connected to Athena but neither of them elaborates. Doesn’t like answering questions about his family. Doesn’t bring any food but does bring a bitchin’ bottle of something that everyone wants to try.
Doesn’t stay long.
Foreign exchange student?? Seriously nobody knows how he got there but nobody cares because he’s such a sweet boy. Looks tough, but still plays with all the child cousins. Big Mama asks if she can fix him a plate. He is your brother now.
Can throw down in the kitchen. Makes the collard greens, one with hamhocks and one without for Auntie Grace. She is impressed by his thoughtfulness and attempts to slip him her number. Zavala makes weird excuses about “Europa” and “protecting humanity” and slips out the back door.