I trotted down the long staircase, inhaling the combination of smells that only came once a year. I could hear the clanking of dishes, the sound of voices. I would be one of the last to arrive for Thanksgiving dinner. And I might have missed it had I not been woken up by all the sounds and smells, for I was napping upstairs on Nana’s bed.
Greeted by smiles upon entering the kitchen, I heard exclamations of, “Well look at you, aren’t you cute!” I gave everyone my cutest stare in return, wagging my tail furiously. I licked my lips. There was only one thing on my mind – food. I’m talking savory shreds of turkey smothered in warm gravy, mountains of mashed potatoes, tangy cranberries, and rich stuffing. I knew I had to be patient, so I sat and watched everyone.
There was Nana in her ripe old age, withered skin, floral blouses and gaudy fashion jewelry, not to mention perfume that could make someone pass out. I was surprised it didn’t overpower the smell of Thanksgiving. There were Nana’s two daughters, Lori and Susanne. Lori usually made it known that she did not like my company. Well, she never really liked me at all. Always turned up her nose, commented on my “mannerisms.” Her short brown hair neatly curled under her chin, and not a perfect detail was missed in her outfits, which were proper and conservative. Right now she was patting down the cloth napkin over her lap, smoothing out every single wrinkle. She met my eyes and hers narrowed. Her husband Jonathan and their two children, Page and Preston, sat next to them, all dressed similarly, all with a politeness that was beyond normal in my opinion.
Susanne was the nice daughter, the one who adored me. Her husband Steve was loud and obnoxious, Lori really despised him. The kids were a little odd. One of them, Alyssa I think her name was, refused to eat Turkey or much else that was on the table. She called herself a Vegan. She seemed quiet and angry, always wore black and weird tattered clothing. She was nice to me, though for some reason. “Are you sure you won’t have some turkey, dear?” Nana pleaded with her.
“I don’t believe in Thanksgiving, supporting the exploitation of Native Americans. And I refuse to eat anything with animal ingredients – most of those animals have been cruelly tortured and killed for our enjoyment.” Alyssa proclaimed.
“I eat meat because it tastes good,” her brother Adam stated.
“Eating meat because it tastes good is not a valid argument. If I like the taste of a human, does it justify my eating of humans?” She was fuming now.
“You’re weird,” Adam replied. Alyssa looked ready for battle but before she could continue, Nana interrupted.
“Now I don’t think Thanksgiving is really about exploiting the Native Americans, it’s about love and family and – ”
“It’s no use, Nana, we go over this with her every year,” Lori’s husband said.
“I only go because it’s a family event that I’m forced to, not because I’m celebrating anything,” Alyssa declared. Everyone was silent. Nana frowned and finished scraping food onto everyone’s plate. The only item on Alyssa’s was a pile of cranberries and some steamed vegetables.
Nana placed my plate before me and my eyes bulged with gratitude. “There you go, sweetie,” she said, patting my head affectionately. I just couldn’t help it, I began gobbling everything in sight, forgetting there were people around me. Lori gave me the most disgusted look and declared, “Nana, Frankie shouldn’t even be allowed to eat in the kitchen, he belongs outside.”
“Now Lori, Frankie is just as much a part of this family as anyone else,” Nana insisted. I stopped for a second to swallow, made a snorting sound, and ignored Lori, continuing to chomp through the food. She pursed her lips.
“Well it’s putting a damper on my holiday meal, I’ll tell you that. Frankie! Do you hear me? It’s time you learned some manners.” At that point I had eaten so fast, I didn’t care. I was done. I had even licked my plate clean. Adam accidentally dropped his roll under the table. I scampered after it, eager to show off my retrieving skills. When I brought it to him, he refused to take it back, announcing that I had drooled all over it.
“Disgusting!” Lori said sharply. Oh well, more food for me. I took my prize and searched for a good spot, observing the variety of footwear belonging to my family. Alyssa’s combat boots looked dangerous, so I crawled over to Nana and her loafers and settled down nearby. She stroked my fur with her feet. After a time of snoozing, I woke up because of an itch. I began licking and scratching at it. Suddenly Lori’s head appeared under the table to retrieve a piece of silverware that had been dropped. She shrieked when she saw me. “Nana, that dog is licking his private parts! And he stinks! Get him out of here or so help me God I will do it myself.”
This was my favorite part of every Thanksgiving – torturing Lori. I ran over to her, wagging my tail. With a repulsive expression, she began waving her napkin around at me, attempting to shoo me away. Meanwhile, one of her expensive-looking heels had popped off her foot during the struggle. I snatched it up in my jaws and ran like mad out of the kitchen, making a beeline for the doggie door. I could hear her high-pitched cries behind me, fading away.