One of my favorite childhood memories is from shortly after we adopted my siblings Reina, Marc, Charles and Carolina. It had been less than a year since the awesome foursome had arrived from El Salvador and we were all still adjusting - their adoption had doubled the number of kids in our family to a whopping eight and we still weren't fluent in each others' languages. My mother was feeling understandably overwhelmed, especially because my ER doctor father would have to work Thanksgiving day, so she wisely decided to have a low-key holiday and make a big lasagna instead of the traditional turkey feed.
Half way through cooking, however, she regretted her decision. She started crying, saying that, since it was the kids' first American Thanksgiving, she should have gone traditional and done it up right. She felt like she had really blown it, that the holiday was ruined.
My aunt Mandy showed up around then and, to keep us kids busy, she suggested that we have a talent show. The next thing we knew, my brother Joe (who must have been around eight at the time, the same age my son Harrison is now) had disappeared upstairs and come back with my mom's nylons on his head like a turkey waddle. He proceeded to gargle songs - everything from Christmas carols to Thriller - like a turkey gobbling. We kids were in hysterics. I don't know if I had ever laughed so hard. We were still laughing much later as we ate the world's best lasagna.
If I could ask my mom today, she might still say that Thanksgiving was a holiday fail, but for me it was the best. It isn't about what you eat. It's not about following traditions or making everything perfect. The holidays are about dorking out with your family, because cracking up is what we remember.