John James Harwood lowered his eyes humbly to the extravagantly carved mahogany dining room table, his eyes lingering on the rows of polished silver before he cleared his throat.
“We thank you Lord for the food you have put in front of us today, and for allowing us to be together. Amen”
“Amen,” echoed the rest of the family, heads bowed.
“Now,” said John James, “following tradition, we’ll all say what we’re thankful for. Then we can tuck into Sophia’s delicious meal.” He winked roguishly at the pale, dark haired woman sitting beside him, who looked as if she had poured every last drop of her life into the succulent feast sitting before them.
“I’ll go first.” John James shifted his stately gaze to each member of the family in turn. “I’m thankful for all of you, sitting here in front of me. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Two sets of eyes locked across the table, a mouth twisted into a slight smirk.
Sophia was next. Eyes downcast, she murmured her agreement with her husband – she too, was thankful for the joy and comfort their family provided. There were no smirks following this, but a foot did ever-so-lightly tap another.
After Sophia was Aunt Victoria, whose plump, plum-painted lips proudly declared her threefold thanks: for her husband, for her enduring good looks, and for her new BMW. She then looked eagerly around the room, hungry eyes searching for jealousy on the faces of her family members.
With a hand placed proprietorially on the back of her neck, her husband made a joke about also being thankful for his wife’s enduring good looks. Victor then looked over at Tanya and said, “I am thankful for life’s little surprises.”
Tanya said, “I’m thankful that I can get the fuck out of this house this year.” No one was surprised. Sophia was expressionless; John James’ cold gaze was hard, Victor and Amy both smiled, for different reasons. Victoria took a gulp of wine.
It was Amy’s turn. She was thankful for nothing, as she appreciated nothing, took nothing for granted and trusted no one. She beamed sweetly around the table. “I’m thankful for all the good-hearted people that care about me. I wouldn’t know what to do without my family.” Here John James gave a terse smile that did not reach his eyes. He cleared his throat again and looked pointedly at Lucy, who was glowering at the table. “Pass.”
Jack Jr. muttered that he was thankful for his mother, and for his wrestling scholarship to Penn.
Granny was last. The perfect vision of a sweet old lady, Granny was sharp and ruthless, and she fiercely protected her own. She looked directly around the table, eyes resting on each family member in turn. “I’m thankful for this family which I have built, and for the continuing strength to protect it. May you all get exactly what you deserve.”
With that, lids were lifted off tureens, soup was ladled, meat was forked, and wine was poured.