Hi, my loves. I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I know we’re all feeling a bit stuffed (besides me, of course, because I drank more wine on Thanksgiving than I ate food), but there’s always room for dessert 😉 Enjoy a special Thanksgiving edition of Taking a Bite!
Thanksgiving had always been Olivia’s favorite holiday; turkey, a warm sweater, family (and friends), a few glasses of wine, and an endless amount of laughter and chatter. Thanksgiving was forever altered. Without her parents, Olivia didn’t feel as though there was a point in getting up at three in the morning, to begin the long turkey cooking process, or in buying an expensive bottle of Merlot. Jane disagreed. They may have lost their parents, but Jane refused to lose tradition. Olivia had just recently moved in with her big sister. Olivia was adjusting to the Upper East Side life, with incredible grace. She was a natural. Men fawned over the new edition to the city (Olivia Martin), and women were welcoming her into their high society circles. Olivia was content. Jane was frightened by how much Olivia reminded Jane of her younger self; expensive clothes (and taste), a laundry list of clueless boys, and an attitude that would make Blair Waldorf cringe. She was also discovering how difficult it was, to raise a teenager.
Jane leaned into Olivia’s room. It was the Monday before Thanksgiving. The room was dark and it smelled of weed and Chanel No 5. Olivia was asleep. Jane flicked on the light and immediate groans emerged from beneath Olivia’s faux fur blanket. Olivia shot up and glared at Jane. Olivia rolled over and shoved her head under a pillow.
“Ugh, why?” Olivia questioned as Jane sat down on the edge of her bed.
“I am going to host Thanksgiving here, at the apartment, and I am going to cook,” Jane said with an optimistic smile.
“It’s too early for your sarcasm, Jane,” Olivia mumbled.
“Oh, god. You’re not serious, are you? Jane you don’t know how to cook!”
“Yes, I do!”
“Jane, you burn water every time you attempt to make pasta,” Olivia reminded her sister.
“Well, are you going to help me or not?” Jane asked.
“Is there going to be wine?” Olivia yawned.
“Is there going to be a turkey?” Jane replied.
“With you cooking, my optimism disappears,” Olivia laughed.
“There’s going to be turkey AND wine,” Jane remarked.
Olivia invited a few of her newfound Upper East Side friends, and Jane invited her best guy friend Caleb, and a few of her female co-workers who had mentioned they had no plans for Thanksgiving. Olivia’s favorite uncle, uncle Mike was going to be spending Thanksgiving with them. Olivia was scared to watch Jane cook for any holiday, especially her favorite holiday, but she was also excited. It was going to be different, but aren’t the holidays always full of surprises?
Grocery shopping with Jane was like flying with an inexperienced pilot; absolutely terrifying. Jane shopped for hours and forgot the turkey. Yes, only Jane. Olivia went back out to buy a turkey, along with a few other Thanksgiving essentials that her sister forgot. In Jane’s defense there was an attractive sales associate working the deli counter. She was distracted. Olivia paid with her sister’s Visa and headed back to the apartment. She helped Jane decorate the apartment with seasonal favorites.
The city was buzzing with conversation about the upcoming holiday. Thanksgiving in Manhattan is a beautiful tradition; just as beautiful as the store windows during Chritmas, or the Rockeffeler Center Christmas tree. New York City is famous for turkeys and Santa (Miracle on 34th Street). Who doesn’t love cuddling up in bed and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Olivia got ready to the sound of the parade on her flatscreen, every year. She realized after her parents died, that she would be in the same city (for the first time ever) as the parade. She missed the flatscreen, though. It felt more magical. She’d always want magical over local.
Thanksgiving had arrived. Olivia set her alarm clock for three in the morning, but she was unable to wake her hungover sister. Jane was basically, dead. It had been her idea to cook for Thanksgiving and she was sleeping through all of it (thank you Jane). Olivia threw on a houndstooth apron and headed into the kitchen. She stared at the uncooked turkey and sighed. She wanted to go back to bed (order Chinese food later). She could hear Jane snoring from the other room. Olivia made a face and sighed. She looked down at her slippers, which were Betty Boop heads, and laughed. What was she doing? She fingered through her long hair. Where does one find answers when they’re out of hope? Google. Olivia googled how to make a turkey and watched two detailed cooking videos. She, of course, had already forgotten the first step by the time she was ready to begin. Olivia left the turkey in the oven two hours too long, while she was napping, and it caught fire. Jane was awoken by Olivia trying to work the Fire Extinguisher (trying being the key word). Her plan backfired. So much for being a firefighter, Olivia thought as she watched her turkey burn. Jane stumbled into the kitchen, while Olivia was wrestling with the Extinguisher on the tile floor. Olivia was covered in foam. So much for having turkey for Thanksgiving, but they did have lots, and lots of wine! Olivia finished an entire bottle before noon. Thankfully, uncle Mike arrived that morning with a fully cooked turkey. He had known that things on the Upper East Side, were going to go horribly wrong.
Olivia emerged from her bedroom as soon as their guests begun to arrive. Jane turned to look at Olivia. She smiled. Olivia was wearing a short, black, peplum cocktail dress and a pair of snakeskin kitten heels. She was draped in jewelry. Olivia’s smile lit up the room. She wore her hair natural (exaggerated beach waves) and painted her lips with a dark purple lipstick. Uncle Mike was blown away by how adult and gorgeous Olivia was. Where did his little niece go? The one who’d force him to play Barbies with her, for hours. The one who used to gather everyone around the fireplace in the living room, and would sing her little heart out. She’d wear makeup and heels that were too big on her. A tear rolled down uncle Mike’s face. Olivia looked at him, perplexed by the sadness. Why was he crying?
“Your parents are so proud of you, Olivia,” uncle Mike said.
Jane handed them both a glass of champagne. Cheers! The buzzer rang. Caleb had arrived. Caleb was absolutely perfect. He looked like Chuck Bass (Gossip Girl fans will drool over that comparison). His clothes were beautiful. He always arrived early and looking like the cover of GQ. His suit was impeccable. Olivia gave him a warm hug and kissed his cheek. Caleb spun her around and squeezed her like a doll. Jane smiled and gave her best friend a hug. She handed him a joint (tradition). Caleb winked. A few minutes later, Olivia’s guests arrived; her best friend Chris, and her friend Alana, whose parents were in the Hamptons for the holiday.
An hour into the evening, Jane and Caleb were falling over drunk (it was a private party; Jane, Caleb, and Jack Daniels). Jane had such high expectations for the evening, and she was a mess! She spilled the mashed potatoes all over the dining room hardwood. She spilled red wine on the turkey. Glasses were shattered by Caleb, when he tripped behind the bar (goodbye Swarovski crystal wine glasses). Who cares how much you cost? MORE MERLOT! Jane and Caleb passed a joint to one another across the dinner table. Olivia covered her face and sunk down low in her chair. Uncle Mike coughed loudly and shook his head. Olivia’s friends were drunk and stoned. It was a nightmare. The apartment smelled of weed and spilled drinks. Jane had forgotten all about the stuffing, so she physically threw her Visa at Olivia and slurred, “Babydoll, please fetch us some stuffing!” Olivia looked at Chris. He laughed and stood up. He offered to go with her. Alana said she couldn’t go, because the boy who worked at the grocery store down the road, was the same boy she had sex with in the boy’s locker room (oops). Olivia and Chris took one last glance at the chaos and then exited the apartment.
The grocery store was packed with miserable shoppers, grabbing last minute Thanksgiving grub and bottles of bubbly. There were men screaming to their wives on the phone, and sales associates grimacing; struggling with a stack of cans. Olivia rushed towards the stuffing and snatched a few fresh-made containers. Chris grabbed Advil for the drunks back at the apartment. Olivia strolled out of the crowded grocery store and stood on the damp sidewalk, waiting for Chris. As they began walking home, snow fell from the dark sky. Olivia looked up and Chris slipped his hand in hers. He held her hand tight and she coyly shared a smile with him. Her hair sparkled from the wet snowflakes. A snowflake landed on her lips and Chris leaned in closer. She was breathing heavy. He leaned in closer. She didn’t stop him. They stood, completely still, at the corner of 74th and 1st avenue, inhaling one another. He was wearing an intoxicating cologne. She always smelled so good. He kissed her. He pulled away and she stared into his gorgeous eyes. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. No one else hurrying by them seemed to notice. They returned to the apartment, feeling very thankful. Olivia remembered what Thanksgiving was all about. It wasn’t about the turkey or the Schnapps. It wasn’t about Martha Stewart decorating guidelines, or stuffing. It was about Chris, Jane, uncle Mike, Caleb, Alana, and Jane’s lonely co-workers.
When they returned they found uncle Mike hiding in the bathroom with a beer. Caleb was lying face first on Jane’s bed snoring, loudly. Jane was chugging another glass of Merlot and humming to her favorite song. Alana was rummaging through Olivia’s CD collection, stoned out of her mind (she had left the table shortly after her friends had left on a stuffing mission and smoked a joint on the fire escape), and Jane’s co-workers were crying about failed relationships at the dining room table. There were empty glasses and dishes everywhere. Chris laughed and kissed Olivia’s forehead. They wouldn’t be needing the stuffing anymore. Thanksgiving felt pretty over, and Olivia couldn’t help but smile. She adored her insane family, and her loyal friends. She adored the taste of Chris’s lips. She called cabs for Caleb, Alana, and the co-workers. She pulled out the sleeper couch and made it comfy for uncle Mike. She helped Jane into the shower, and she began cleaning up after the Thanksgiving tornado. Olivia put her hair up in a messy bun and turned on holiday music. She sweeped up broken glass and crumbs. She danced with the broom and sang Baby It’s Cold Outside. Chris appeared behind her and she turned to look at him.
“I thought you had gone home,” Olivia whispered, trying not to wake the crazies.
“I would never leave you alone with a pile of dishes,” Chris said with a warm grin.
“You just wanted to see me barefoot and with my hair up in a bun,” Olivia giggled.
“Well, I certainly didn’t want to miss that!”
“I’m thankful for you, Chris.”
“I love you, Olivia.”
That was the first time Olivia ever heard those words come out of Chris’s mouth, and she wanted to replay that moment over and over again. She was covered in foam from the sink, and she smelled like turkey. She moved a hair out of her face and got foam on her eyebrow. Chris moved in close to her and kissed her.
She smiled through the kiss.
“I love you too,” Olivia replied.
“Happy Thanksgiving,” Chris said as he kissed her again.