All week, family members were arriving—from Trinidad, Orlando, and Washington DC. By Wednesday evening, the house was festive, with cousins sprawled everywhere, voices rising, laughter ringing, as everyone caught up with one another amid preparations for the next day's feast.
On Thanksgiving, we crowded into our three-bedroom apartment, thirty-three of us in all. My husband borrowed chairs from the church. "Where will you put them?" I asked, wondering why he bothered. But he had the foresight. He wheeled the two bikes from the hallway into our bedroom, and lined up black metal chairs along the bookshelves, creating a cozy annex to the main gathering area. We were a convivial row with dinner plates balanced on our laps and stockinged feet up on the wall. In the living room, people picked their way over one another's legs, finding seats where they could, the little ones cross-legged on the floor around the coffee table. The old ones had the best seats, Aunt Beulah and Uncle Quintin, 87 and 89, on the long couch, Aunt Megan, 93, in the armchair at the center of the action. We brought their plates of food to them, and gave them real china and silverware, on trays. Everyone else made do with disposable plates and plastic cutlery, and no one complained.