Every year on Black Friday, my Godparents forgo the insanity of shopping malls and crack of dawn special buys for something more simple, family-oriented, and, in my opinion, all-American. Family and friends gather at their home beginning in the early afternoon for a full day of spending time together, decorating for Christmas, and sharing in a potluck of Thanksgiving leftovers. Later in the evening, card games are started as second or even third helpings of dessert are passed around the table. The house is full of laughter, love, and warmth. Each year, in addition to the Thanksgiving leftovers (this year there was a turkey pot pie and turkey and dumplings), there are other things to feast on. This is a folksy, hunting family, so things like turtle soup, venison stew, and pheasant with chestnut stuffing are not uncommon. This is the first year I was brave enough to try venison, and I was surprised to find that I really liked the stew.
One of my favorite parts of the day has always been helping to decorate the outdoor tree. My Godfather’s family owns a farm store, and giving back to the land has always been something the entire family is passionate about. Each year they put a potted Christmas tree out on the patio and decorate it with garland and ornaments made from cheerios strung on yarn as well as pinecones and apple slices coated in peanut butter and covered with cracked corn or birdseed. As the animals eat the ornaments from the tree throughout the winter season, more ornaments are made and hung so that the wildlife doesn’t go hungry.
Jake, the family puppy, loved having a house full of people and raced around the home greeting everyone and begging for food. He even managed to get ahold of the cheerio garland and made an escape attempt, but his plan was foiled by his good manners and inability to ignore commands like “drop it!” He brings my Godmother so much joy, and is a fine hunting companion for my Godfather.