The Chaos of Thanksgiving


Sheyla O'Donnell, Staff Writer

Six families, and only one house. This was the sole image of Thanksgiving that Calliope had in her brain. There was no perfectly lit scene where the family cooked the turkey or baked the pies. Instead, they all gathered together in the decidedly biggest house amongst six families and attempted normalcy. But,it had not been ordinary for some time. 

    A third of the cousins had been off to college, coming back with new morals and a possible quarter-life crisis, and adults grumbled about the most petite cousins incessantly running around their legs in a game of tag. But, the forgotten group, the gaggle of middle children who were perpetually overlooked by their parents who couldn’t seem to tell the difference between the indigo sky and the verdant grass, were naturally the most chaotic. 

    Huddled in the corner of the basement, cowering away from duties as “parents,” they closed their eyes to relish in the silence of it all. 

    “Do you hear that?” Calliope’s cousin, Brooke, mused before they all sprung up, anxiety coursing through their veins at the thought of their siblings. Brooke let out a chuckle before making a flourish of her hands and grinning.

    “That’s the point! There is nothing to hear. It’s all just silence.”

    “I barely remembered what the sound of silence was… given that silence is the absence of noise.” Howie, the third oldest of the middle cousins and the most extraordinary genius of the Carrington family, drew before glancing at his AP Biology homework. 

    The rest of the clan all smirked at each other before pointing at the ancient stuffed elephant covered in greying cob-webs. Calliope, the leader of the middle children “faction,” due to her seniority above them all, gently reached over and threw the toy at his flaxen hair. A hush overtook the group before a cacophony of laughter echoed around them. 

    As the perfect object of torment, Howie gracefully extracted the webs off before flinging it at someone. Coincidentally, that person was the youngest cousin, Beatrice. The only reason she ever made it into this elite group was that she was once the youngest now turned middle child, three children later. She was ten and naturally prohibited the teen’s habitual way of speaking. 

    A piercing shriek left Beatrice’s mouth before they all stood up and sprinted for the door, not wanting to face the wrath of two exhausted parents who mostly hated their guts. They all ran for the crawlspace in the wall, the wooden “ladder” creaking with their weight before Calliope kicked it on the ground, so no one could find their spot. 

    “You do realize we have no way of getting down now, right?”

    “That’s better than Bea’s parents climbing up here. Have you seen Aunt Tabitha? The bags under her eyes are raccoon-family adjacent!” Calliope defended. 

    They all sat on their phones until a fated stomach growled, and they knew that Callie’s “brilliant” plan was not so terrific. All eyes turned to glower at Calliope, who sat in the corner, a rueful smile pulling at her lips. Then, at once, as if coordinated, they all lunged for the eldest cousin, who shrieked in terror before she glanced down at the height of her fall and risked it all. She was going to jump. Praying that all went well, she leaped and found her knees hurt a bit from impact, but that seemed to be all the damage. 

Smirking at the rest of her family, she tauntingly shook her manicured hand before turning to run. Howie’s voice rang through the basement, “You can’t leave us down here! You’ll be turning your back on family! What happened to ‘blood is thicker than water?'”

Calliope rolled her eyes before slowly taking the ladder back and shooting back, “Don’t act like you don’t run away from me in school the second you see me! I’m just nicer than all of you. Try to catch me!” She took off running and bounded up the stairs before she heard a shriek. 

Chaos. Utter chaos. That is what the second-third of cousins were all about. 

Calliope caught a mouthful of pumpkin pie in her mouth, her cashmere sweater grasping the rest of it. Her finally tamed curls were wetted in whipped cream. And, when the plate eventually fell onto the hardwoods, glass shattering, a laugh escaped her mouth. A bit of hysteria took over the girl’s body as she wiped the cream from her eyes. Her elder aunt’s and uncle’s gaped at her.

“Calliope Florence! Your aunt spent hours laboring over that-” her mother struggled with words, “-pie!”

Calliope opened her mouth and shut it as if she was of the aquatic family before she felt tears prickling at her eyes. Then, just when she was about to make a scene, her youngest cousin Oliver, Ollie for short, hugged onto her torso and squealed in delight, “Crust! My favorite!”

Howie appeared at her side, tapping her on her clean shoulder before laughter broke out amongst the crowd. The rest of the cousins all stood behind her and smirked at her. 

“It is possible,” Howie said, “That whipped cream might be thicker than blood and water combined.”

And with that, Calliope let out a chuckle before grabbing a chunk of crust and chewing on it. Then, screwing her face in disgust, Calliope gave a thumbs up to Aunt Tabitha before spitting it out into her hand. If anything was for sure, that crust was thicker and more rigid than everything combined.