It was Thanksgiving day, but it didn't feel like it. Thanksgiving had always been a day of joy and happiness. Today just felt like any other day since we received the news three months ago. But holidays made it even harder.
My brother, Zachary, had been killed in the war. The great, terrible war that was ravaging across our country. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if Zachary hadn't left. I hadn't even paid attention to the war until Zachary told us he enlisted. Now that he was gone, I saw the war everywhere I looked.
Thanksgiving had always been Zachary's favorite holiday. He loved the closeness we felt with our family and friends around this time. His face would always light up with jubilant radiance every time we walked into my grandparents' house to celebrate. That was the only reason we were celebrating today: because we knew Zachary would've wanted us to.
Now, as we were driving in my father's automobile through town, I could almost see my brother sitting next to me in the back seat. He would've been grinning, telling me of the time he had accidentally tripped our mother as she was carrying apple pie to the table. I remembered the story well. He told it every year. The pie had leapt out of her hands, smashed onto the table, and big chunks of gooey apples had flown through the air, landing in Great Aunt May's professionally done hair.
But, now I wasn't laughing. I was trying my hardest not to cry. The crisp air stung my eyes and made my nose run as we sped along the main road of town.
As we pulled into my grandparents' drive, my grandmother came out to greet us. She helped my encumbered mother carry in all the food she had prepared. I hopped out of the automobile and trailed after my family.
The house was lit up with candles and a few, sparse lamps. A fire crackled merrily in the stove, casting shadows on the walls. The long table was heavily adorned with all types of foods. Delicious scents wafted around the room. The centerpiece of the table caught my attention. The turkey. It was so big and greasy and flavorful, it made my mouth water. In normal circumstances, I would've been delighted with the very sight of the turkey. But just looking at it brought back painful memories.
Laughter danced around the room and bright faces with twinkling eyes stared at us as we entered the door. My little cousins came skipping over, telling me of all their Thanksgiving merriments saying, "Emma! My family went to a ballet this morning!" or "Look, Emma! My mother bought me this dress today!" I wanted to scream, "How could you think about something so meaningless when my brother is dead!" But I didn't have time, because my grandfather called us all to the table.
The smell of the food tickled my nostrils, but I was no longer hungry. My grandfather said a prayer and everyone clasped hands. Then, as one, we all sat down. Bowls of stuffing and trays of tender turkey were passed around the table. Everyone started devouring the exquisitely prepared delicacies, but I just sat there, watching all their insensitive faces, dripping with turkey grease.
I was so angry and bitter. I wondered why this had to happen to my family. I looked around the table again and felt disgusted. But, I remembered, just last year, I was doing the same thing!
After the meal was over, dessert was served. As I saw the apple pie, I couldn't help remembering the story my brother used to tell me. Tears sprang to my eyes. I had no appetite for all the delectables passed around the table.
I remembered the beginning of the year. I had been so excited. This year was supposed to be great! I was finishing school, getting a job, and I had a lot of friends. I was so wrong.
Everyone stood and gathered in the family room to chat sprightly, while the old men fell asleep on the couch with bulging stomachs. I sat in the far corner of the window seat, gazing through the glass. The wind blew the bare trees and shook the window panes. Looking back into the room and seeing all the happy faces brought a miniscule smile to my lips. That smile was immediately replaced with sorrow. I knew Zachary would've wanted me to be happy on his favorite holiday, but it was just so hard.
A small breeze sneaked in through the siding of the house. I wrapped my arms around myself and shivered. There was a knock on the door. "I'll get it." Aunt Rebecca said. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes.
Someone shrieked. I jumped up and spun around. Aunt Rebecca held her hands over her mouth and tears were streaming down her cheeks. A large, travel-worn man walked into the house. As he turned around, my heart leapt. I dashed across the room and jumped into my brother's arms, sobbing. He was laughing.
"Emma," Zachary said, "Why are you crying on my favorite holiday?"