Celebrate the Best and Worst of Thanksgiving with 'Home for the Holidays'

Celebrate the Best and Worst of Thanksgiving with 'Home for the Holidays'

Monday, 18 November, 2019

Thanksgiving should be so simple: Gather your favorite people in one place, celebrate gratitude, indulge in an enormous feast, then waddle home for a long weekend. But tight quarters, galloping blood sugar, too much (or too little) wine, and lots of history can turn this simple holiday into a test of wills.

That’s just what happens in the entirely entertaining short story ‘Home for the Holidays’ by Chris Radant.

You might be more familiar with the 1995 film that was directed by Jody Foster and stars Hollywood heavy hitters, including Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Dylan McDermott, Claire Danes, and Robert Downey, Jr. (before he became Ironman). Go ahead and enjoy the trailer; we’ll wait.

Reading Radant’s story makes it easy to see how this film came to be. The source material is like concentrated detergent: incisive, sharp, funny, and warm. It’s easy to commiserate with our heroine’s dread of the upcoming holiday, as well as her steadfast love for the family that inspires it.

On the plane ride from her carefully constructed adult life in Boston to her family home in Pittsburgh, our unnamed narrator makes a mental list of the transgressions of holidays past: the awkward gifts, her parents’ nagging advice that turns her into a sullen, 40-year-old adolescent, the bed pillows like ‘foam rubber surfboards,’ and ‘Andy Williams bellowing Christmas songs from the 1956 hi-fi while Dad watches the news.’

As her catalog of family faults grows, we begin to realize something she hasn’t quite yet: She sees these people. Yes, they are annoying, and yes, the next 96 hours will present emotional challenges that are yet to be fully plumbed, but these are her people. For better, for worse, for always, this is her family.

family image from the movie Home for the Holidays

When the big day arrives, so does the rest of the family, and an eating bacchanalia ensues. ‘Grazing began extra early on Thanksgiving morning. My brothers arrived with assorted girlfriends, wives, and children. And there were fried eggs, pancakes, crew-sonts, fudge cookies, and sticks of butter disguised as every manner of food.’

The miniature dramas in the story play out the way only family farce can, including an ordinary winter coat that takes on epic proportions, a Wurlitzer organ that might be possessed, squeeze cheese in a can, the safe haven of a televised basketball game, cloying odors, plenty of Alka-Seltzer, and the unintended consequences of the gift of a globe.

When it’s finally time to depart for her real life, our narrator feels like the holiday has lasted a lifetime and was also over just a little too soon.

Read the original story online.

They’ll do things they’ve always done to drive me nuts and I won’t go nuts. I’ll translate every single thing into a gesture of love and concern. These are two things of which I’m certain. This time, I will exhibit a mastery over the situation. My hard-earned maturity will bridge the abyss. Yep, It’s going to be great. — Chris Radant

Home for the Holidays

by Chris Radant

This laugh-out-loud story — about the annoyance, patience, laughter, and abiding love of family — will also, probably, bring an unexpected sting to your eyes as you read. Its sharp observations and resigned tone wholly capture the warm feelings and bite-your-tongue moments of a family Thanksgiving. Our unnamed narrator has a life she loves. But for the 96 hours of her family visit, she will subvert everything she is — everything she’s worked to become — to spend the holiday at her childhood home: ‘In five weeks, it will be 1990, except at Mom and Dad’s house, where 1956 will never end.’ {more}

This short story (10 pages) was published in November of 1995 by Chris Radant. The book takes you to a family Thanksgiving. Melissa read Home for the Holidays and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

Home for the Holidays


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This slender, charming books lays out all you need to know for your perfect Thanksgiving with maxiumum joy and minimum stress — and this non-traditional recipe is just the thing to liven up your table on turkey day.
Sure, you could spend the weekend apple picking or wandering a pumpkin patch. But we offer an alternative: How about a spooky weekend in a (maybe haunted) college dorm with a Ouija board and a group of misfits?!

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