I wrote this to submit to http://thisibelieve.org/, and I'd love some extra criticism on it. It had to be 500 words or under which absolutely killed me. But I think the point was preserved, even after lysing out 60 words or so.

Every other year, I spend Thanksgiving with my primarily polish mother. She’s a fanatic about cooking, family, and a clean house. Right after Halloween, she begins her slow ascent to insanity. It’s the same every year; it starts out with “Max, why don’t you straighten up your room a bit?” The snipping starts around the second week of November. “Maximilian, can we not have coloured pencils all over the living room?”

And then the screaming starts in the third week. My science experiments have gone down the drain (literally), and Chinese food from last week now is in the trash can. The refrigerator is nearly empty, save for the 28 pound turkey. Those turkeys, they tend to take up a fragment of space. My microscope has hastily been thrown into my room—it’s on my bed. Thankfully, I was just playing with protists, as there is a slide of water on my bed along with the note: “Max, clean up the house before I come home if you want a good meal next Thursday. Love, Mom (with a heart)”. The heart makes everything OK.

By now, so close to the day of reckoning, I do what I’m told and vacuum the living room and hallways, which my very furry winter dogs then go and roll over, shedding husky hair everywhere. Again, the floor is dirty, but I have done my duty.

It’s Tuesday, and in preparation for the great Thanksgiving feast Mom has opted out of work to go grocery shopping. She gives me specific tasks that she assumes I can accomplish: find the cranberries and collect two cans of both whole and sliced. In the time I spent debating between generic or Ocean Spray (I went with the ocean spray) she has stocked the cart with a fat bag of potatoes, enough butter to build a person’s fat from scratch, some poor farmer’s entire supply of corn husks, and stuffing things.

Thursday finally dawns, and like a four-year old on Christmas day, I’m up with the roosters. The scent of cooking is abound, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on the television. Mom waves at me and temporarily exits the kitchen. We watch Hello Kitty and Pikachu go by, and then she’s back to cooking.

It’s cooking until Grandpa Paul comes in, and then it’s cooking again. Grandpa, Jim and I are around the table, watching the food accumulate, and awaiting the grandiose bird of legend.

The turkey is perfect. The company is perfect. The house is clean and smelling of sweat, bird juice and love, and the dogs are for the most part quiet. I believe in the turkey—it’s juicy, never dry. I believe in the homemade potatoes and biscuits. I believe in holding hands and saying Grace. I believe in Thanksgiving—every year it reminds me how lucky I am to have such a loving family, and how thankful I am to be alive and eating my mother’s perfect cooking for another year.