Of course, I have no ulterior motive when I tell my sister I am grateful for her. There is absolutely no reason that I would butter up all my family members as we sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table. I even say a few things about my Uncle Bruce, who I can’t stand.
I tell my sister I’m grateful for her forgiveness and always seeing the best in others. I tell my mother I’m grateful that she thinks so highly of me even when I can’t always live up to it. I tell my father I’m grateful that he doesn’t always pick up on my bad habits and is always kind to me. I even tell my Uncle Bruce that I’m thankful he came all this way just for Thanksgiving.
I do not tell my Uncle Bruce that I’m not grateful for the fact my sister gets visibly uncomfortable every time he is near. I absolutely do not mention that. I also don’t mention that I’m not grateful for the fact my mom is a certified Uncle Bruce apologist. Nope, none of that.
Instead I go around the table buttering up all my relatives. I layer on the charm as much as I can and they all seem to appreciate it. Uncle Bruce even flashes his disgusting yellow teeth at me as he smiles for the first time all day.
After dinner, I help my mother put away dishes in the kitchen. We talk about how the dinner was and other meaningless stuff that I’m not particularly thankful for while we scrub dishes and put leftovers in tupperwares.
“Thank you for being nice to Uncle Bruce,” says my mother, quietly. “I know you two don’t get along too well.” “Well,” I shrug, “things have a tendency to work themselves out.”
I excuse myself to the bathroom and take care of a few other orders of business while I’m away. I return to the kitchen from outside and continue scrubbing and the grime covered plates and chatting with my mom about my plans for the future.
She interrupts my college talk with, “Do you smell smoke?”
“You know,” I say, “I think I do. It smells like it’s coming from the backyard.”
The whole family bustles out of the various rooms they had found themselves in and flows out into the backyard where there is a massive fire erupting out of our fire pit. My mother shrieks and starts uselessly trying to blow it out.
“Where’s Bruce?” she shrieks. My other relatives shrug and look around helplessly. “Bruce will know what to do,” she repeats to herself, hurrying back into the house.
For the first time all Thanksgiving I do feel thankful for something. As I stand with my hands in my front pockets staring at the flames burning, I feel grateful that my mother will never find Uncle Bruce. The orange flames dance merrily in front of me as my heart glows with gratitude as I realize she will see the best in me as she always does. I’m grateful my sister will forgive me no matter what. I’m grateful my father won’t pick up on this bad habit. I’m grateful that I finally took care of business. I’m especially grateful that Uncle Bruce came all this way to see us.
This Thanksgiving, the thing I’m most grateful for is that they won’t suspect a thing.
Ash Reynolds is a junior in high school. They have always loved writing and have been doing it since they were a little kid, as well as other forms of art like drawing, photography and music. They are the social media co-runner and prose co-editor of Love Letters Magazine.