Zelda’s First Thanksgiving

By Angela

So, Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, this holiday meant spending time together as a family. Usually we’d cook all day, watch football games, eat, and maybe play games afterwards. Later on down the line, somewhere in the late 90’s, my brother and I started the tradition of early-morning Black Friday shopping (we were trying to find Star Wars figures). Now we have families of our own and our traditions have been altered, but some, like Harrison Dip, still remain (Harrison Dip is a secret family recipe and we have had it every single Thanksgiving I can remember).

Zelda with Grandma and Grandpa Harrison

This year was incredibly different. Zelda is now nine and a half months old, and her presence has transformed the holiday. Last year, I was massively pregnant and had acid reflux, so I didn’t eat much. I didn’t move much, either. The holiday was spent in the same house we’d spent Thanksgiving for the past 30 years. This year, Thanksgiving was in my mom and Dad’s new house in Suffolk, I ate way too much, and I was chasing Zelda all over the place. It was—dare I say it—fun.

It was a full house: my mom and dad, my brother and his wife, their three kids, and their neighbors and their three kids. It was chaos: kiddie toys strewn about, screaming children, thumping footsteps, lots of tears and even more laughter.

Spending quality time with cousins
Spending quality time with cousins

All the kids played together nicely. I think, without a doubt, one of my favorite moments of the night was when Zelda’s younger cousin came in and made a beeline for her. They looked at each other for a second, then Zelda lit up. When she did, so did he.

I drank a lot of wine and ate a lot of good food. Zelda even got in on the fun. I gave her a spoonful of mashed potatoes and she ate it all—but she also got it all over herself. Matt joked that there was an “It’s Something About Mary” hairstyle going on. We had to bathe her afterwards; she’d gotten potatoes everywhere. Matt and I were both aching by the end of the night from all the running around, but we were full of good food and ready to get some good sleep. Too bad I snore, and too bad Zelda had other plans.

Potato head
Potato head

We spent the rest of the weekend visiting small towns outside Suffolk (Smithfield, Rescue, and Franklin, to be exact), visiting friends in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, eating excellent sushi, having dim sum with Matt’s parents, and walking around the pathetic excuse for a mall called Pembroke. I finally got my mane of hair chopped off and I feel magical. There’s all the things I’m thankful for that aren’t the usual staples of family and friends: good food, a wonderful haircut, being out and about, and seeing new places.

Playing with friends

I guess I summed it up pretty well when someone asked how my Thanksgiving was, and I said good, loud, and full of kids. I added, “It’s a big reminder how my life has drastically changed.” When Matt and I were headed to downtown Norfolk to get a drink with some friends, I mused about how I’d go dancing or something on a night like this not even five years ago. I wasn’t sad about it, but I hit an unexpected twinge of nostalgia. A life far different, sure, but full of enough memories to pass along to my daughter when the time is right.

So yeah, this Thanksgiving was different from the family traditions I grew up with, but I like this new wilder and crazier one. Here’s hoping the next one is even wilder.