Sarah woke up on Thanksgiving morning and sniffed the air expectantly. No scent of roasting turkey reached her nose. She lifted her head off the pillow, listening for the sound of the TV showing the big parade. All should could hear was a strange humming sound.
It all came back to her in a rush. She wasn’t at home. She was at Carrie’s house, down the street. Her mom and dad were in the hospital, taking care of the new little baby. She could see them later this afternoon, but for now, she was spending her favorite holiday at the neighbors. Sarah tried hard not to cry.
“Happy Thanks Day!” shouted a voice in her ear.
Sarah jumped, hitting her head on the bunk above her. Carrie was hanging over the edge, grinning down at her. Her bright red hair stuck out around her ears. She flipped off the top bunk. “Come on! Let’s head downstairs! I can hear Freddy already.”
“Shouldn’t we get dressed and comb our hair first?” asked Sarah.
“Not me!” Carrie said. “You know what I’m thankful for? Pajamas! You know what I”m not thankful for? Combs!” She raced out of the room.
Sarah followed more slowly.
At the bottom of the stairs, Carrie was laughing and ducking as her big brother Freddy flew a remote controlled airplane around the room. That explained the humming sound. The plane swooped close to Sarah’s head and she jerked away, heart pounding. Was he trying to hit her? She chose a low chair in the corner, hoping to stay out of the way, while Carrie begged for a turn. In Carrie’s hands, the toy flew even more dangerously. She knocked over a lamp, which didn’t break, and then an old vase, which did. At that exact moment, Carrie’s mother came down the stairs. Sarah sighed with relief. Now Carrie would have to put away the airplane.
“Happy Thanks Day!” said Carrie’s mom. “Oh dear, the vase is broken! Well, fortunately, I was never very thankful for that vase. Get the broom, Freddy!”
“I’m not thankful for sweeping,” Freddy said.
“You’d be even less thankful for cutting your foot on broken glass.”
“Good point!” he said, laughing, and began to sweep up the mess. “I’m also super thankful for a helpful little sister,” he said as he finished up.
Carrie held the dustpan for him.
‘I’m thankful for sunshine!” Carrie said when they were done. She and Freddy ran to the door and yanked it open. Outside it was snowing, a light fluffy snow, just the kind that Sarah loved. If she was at home, she would bundle up in her orange Thanksgiving sweater and her hat and mittens and winter coat and go out to play.
“I’m not thankful for snow,” said Freddy, shutting the door firmly.
“Me either,” Carrie said. “But I am thankful for forts!”
Brother and sister got busy piling every blanket and pillow in the house on the living room floor. When they started building, they called Sarah in to help. She had certainly never heard of making such a mess on Thanksgiving morning. Didn’t they have guests coming over soon? But no grown ups said anything, so the kids built the biggest, most elaborate fort Sarah had ever seen. It was fun. So much fun that she forgot it was Thanksgiving and that everything was wrong.
“Who’s thankful for spaghetti?!” sang Carrie’s dad, coming out of the kitchen with a heaping platter.
“Me!” shouted everyone, rushing toward the table.
Sarah poked her head out of the fort. Spaghetti? For Thanksgiving? Where was the turkey? She joined the others at the table, staring wide-eyed at the garlic bread and meatballs.
“Guests first!” announced Carrie’s mom. “Sarah, are you thankful for spaghetti?”
“But what, dear?”
“Isn’t there any turkey?” Sarah mumbled, though it came out sounding more like “Uma ena turkey?”
“Oh, of course, you must be surprised. But no one in this house is thankful for turkey. We are very, very thankful for Harold’s spaghetti and meatballs, however.”
Sarah nodded, trying to look like this made sense. Wasn’t turkey what the pilgrims ate? Wasn’t that the point of Thanksgiving? To remember the pilgrims? She watched Carrie’s dad pile spaghetti and bread on all the plates. It was unnatural.
It was also delicious.
The meal was long and loud. (“I’m thankful for music!” shouted Freddy before belting out the Spider Man theme song.) There was quite a bit of mess. (“I”m thankful for laughter!” giggled Carrie after snorting so hard that milk came out of her nose.) Dessert was heaping bowls of ice cream with lots of toppings. (“I’m thankful for cherries!” said Carrie’s mom as she put fourteen of them on her ice cream.) It felt strange not to be eating pie, but Sarah did discover that chocolate sauce and caramel sauce blended together was the best taste on earth.
When they were finally finished, Carrie’s parents pushed their chairs back. “I’m thankful for paper plates,” said Carrie’s mom, dumping everything from the table into the trash. That explained the lack of china.
“I’m thankful for neighbors with new babies!” said Carrie’s dad. “Ready to go see your baby sister, Sarah?”
Sarah looked down at her pajamas, now stained with sauce in a few places. She nodded reluctantly.
It was a short drive to the hospital, and a long walk up all the stairs to the room where Sarah’s family waited. Sarah pushed open the door. Her mother was still on the hospital bed, a little bundle of blankets in her arms. Her father sat in a chair nearby, a plate of turkey and stuffing on a tray in his lap. They both looked up and smiled.
All of a sudden, it felt like Thanksgiving.
Sarah ran to her mother and buried her face next to the sweet-smelling bundle that was her little sister. “Happy Thanks Day,” she whispered. “I’m thankful for you.”
Then she sat on her dad’s lap and told them all about spaghetti and ice cream and the best and weirdest Thanksgiving ever.