By Katie McBride

Thanksgiving. It’s a time to give thanks for the people and things in our lives that make everyday a little sweeter than it would have otherwise been.So why does it have to be so darn difficult?

In my family, Thanksgiving tends to be far more stressful than it should be. Let’s just start with a few stories from last year.

My parents divorced when I was a senior in high school. No big deal, because they didn’t really get along anyway. But this led to the plotted division of holidays, birthdays and any other day that one parent could hold over another.

So Thanksgiving switches every year.

Last year was my dad’s Thanksgiving to have the kids. Dad doesn’t really have much extended family anymore, so Thanksgiving with him includes his trying to give out orders, my 17-year-old sister standing over him with a wooden spoon and yelling, my 14-year-old brother running away so he won’t have to help, my 7-year-old sister screaming because no one is paying her any attention and me.

I can’t cook, so I just kind of stand there and wonder how on earth the Thanksgiving with the pilgrims and Indians evolved into this crazy day.

Last year, I persuaded Dad to put champagne in the punch, so K.C., the older of my two sisters, ended up tipsy trying to cook a turkey.

Not to mention, Dad expected Lucy, the 7-year-old, to be able to cook an entire dish herself. Excuse me? I’m not eating anything cooked by a first-grader.

That day went surprisingly well compared to our first Thanksgiving with just Dad.

But the next day was even worse.

Mom took us up to my grampa’s to celebrate her Thanksgiving.

Grampa’s wife, Martha, is very compartmentalized in how she does things. We all know this and try to grin and bear it even though it drives some of us crazy.

So, on that Friday, we arrived in Hillsboro and were sat down in the den to be given our exact duties for the day.

I wish I could remember what everyone was told to do, because some of our assigned duties were downright funny.

What I do remember is the place settings. Oh, those place settings.

Martha printed off everyone’s name on a cute little card to put on the table. I’m sure most people are familiar with the adults’ table and the kids’ table at Thanksgiving.

Yeah, I’m 20 years old, and I’m still at the kids’ table.

That aside, K.C. and my cousin Tori decided it would be really fun to test Martha’s memory.

So while she was cooking, those two went to each table and scooped up the place settings then set them down wherever they wanted.

The result was chaos.

Martha had no clue where anyone was supposed to sit, K.C. was indignant that anyone should have to sit anywhere, and I was just well, laughing, to be honest. (Apparently the moral of this story is that I am never of any real help to anyone).

Once we finally sat down, the day ran smoothly enough, although I was made to play piano while everyone sang Christmas carols.

Yuck.

But, that brings me to my point. Why does Thanksgiving have to be so difficult?

This year is my mom’s year, and this past weekend she sent e-mails to my entire family because apparently no one wanted to host Thanksgiving, but no one wanted to have it at anyone else’s house, and everyone was just plain crabby.

Really, it’s Thanksgiving.

My mom made an excellent point.

It’s Thanksgiving, the day of thanks.

You would think people who have survived cancer, divorce, major illnesses, retirement, death, getting old, kids’ disasters and money crises would be able to recognize the whole point of Thanksgiving is family.

“It’s not where we eat, or what we eat, or how we eat it. It’s not how clean our house is, or how fancy we can make it look. The thanks is that we can be together,” Mom said.

So no matter where we are this year, no matter the duties designated and no matter how much alcohol I manage to sneak to my younger siblings, it will be fun.

We are a crazy bunch, but we certainly can never say it won’t be fun.