It was his turn. He stood and raised his glass. Everyone looked at him expectantly. He knew what he was supposed to say. Tradition dictate that he express thanks for his family, his friends, his job, the food… All the usual things. Despite knowing that, the words wouldn’t come. He’d said them every Thanksgiving for years. Now they refused to pass his lips.
Instead, he merely raised his glass to the table, took a sip, and sat down. There were several sideways glances thrown his way, but his brother stood and kept the ball rolling. Soon, everyone seemed to have forgotten his bizarre behavior.
Food was served and face-stuffing commenced. Uncle Bob valiantly talked through the bites. His brother elbowed him and rolled his eyes at every pun. The food was good and the conversation light.
After he helped clean up, he went outside to sit on the back step. The chill in the night air wasn’t too bad, and the moon overhead gave everything a soft glow. He was just glad to be alone.
But not for long, as his brother soon joined him. “So what’s up? You seem out of sorts tonight.”
“You didn’t say anything during the thankful thing.”
“Yeah, I suppose that’s pretty obvious.”
“Yeah. So what’s up?”
He shrugged. “I just… I don’t know. It all feels so… trite? Each year, it’s the same thing. I know I should be glad for everything I have. But I just don’t feel it this year. And I feel like an ass because of it.”
His brother nodded. “I think I get it.”
“So I’m an ass, right?”
“Look, you know I love you, right?”
“Yeah. And I love you.”
“Right. You’re my brother. If you’re not feeling Thanksgiving, you’re not. I love you anyway. You’re here. That matters. It’s all that matters. Traditions are fun. But they’re not what’s important. You’re not an ass just because you don’t want to jump through an old hoop. Words don’t matter. This matters.” He smacked him in the chest.
“Oof. You still hit like a wimp.”
“Yeah, well, at least I can talk at the table.”
They laughed together, just like they always had. When they stopped, his brother stood to go back inside. He put his hand out to stop him.
“Wait. Before we go back in… Thanks. I needed that.”
“See, you are thankful. Now. Pie. I need pie.”
Together they walked back into the house.