After the popularity of black Twitter’s #ThanksgivingWithBlackFamilies and our undercover report on the Harris family’s Fourth of July cookout, we decided to embed a reporter for an up close look at Thanksgiving with the Harris family*.
10 a.m.: I arrived early to check out the preparation for the meal. After staring at me through the screen door and asking for my credentials, my mama’s name, which church I attended, my pastor’s name and who invited me, Aunt Jannie Mae invited me into the living room and introduced me to the rest of the family. Although the house was bustling with frantic activity, they welcomed me with smiles and open arms and laid out a one-and-only rule for my early arrival: Do not come within 20 feet of the kitchen.
The kitchen was for food preparers only, and I didn’t have a high-enough security clearance to go into the area. If the Harris family’s banana pudding recipe got out to the general public, they’d know who did it, and I could face harsh retribution. Plus, they didn’t know where my hands had been.
After attending the Harris family cookout, I knew that I shouldn’t arrive empty-handed, so I gave them a container of potato salad I had made. Aunt Jannie Mae gave me a funny look and disappeared into the kitchen with my container.
11:30 a.m.: Other family members began to arrive with enough food to feed a developing country. I peeked into the kitchen and didn’t see my potato salad anywhere. Just as I was about to ask about it, Sister Dorothy approached me and asked if I was “saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost.” I told her I didn’t know what that meant, and she anointed me with oil and said, “Don’t be like Kamisha.”
Noon: Sharon, the youngest of the cousins, arrived for a family meeting. There were hushed whispers and loud yelling. From what I could piece together using my reporting skills, Sharon was accused of bringing “Pattie's pies” to last Thanksgiving’s dinner, which she vehemently denied. Aunt Jannie Mae burst out of the kitchen and returned with a detailed printout of a chemical-trace analysis that revealed the pies were actually bought from Wal-Mart.
Sharon hung her head in shame as the Harris family sanctioning body pronounced her banned from the kitchen for a period of two years for using performance-enhancing pies. When she sat beside me, I could hear her quietly sobbing and muttering something about appealing the decision. She added, “At least I’m not like Kamisha.”
12:45 p.m.: Everyone has arrived. There was so much going on:
- Jabari was trying to convince everyone to stop playing the Mississippi Mass Choir CD and to put on his mixtape. He swore it was “fire.”
- James was trying to get me to play spades again because someone needed a partner, but I declined because I'd learned my lesson at the Fourth of July cookout. He promised he wouldn’t call me “out my name” this time.
- Lakeisha arrived with her new boyfriend. They were wearing matching dashikis and copper jewelry, and whenever anyone talked to them, they ended the conversation with “Ase [ah-sheh].”
- The kids were outside playing tackle football. Although the teams weren’t broken up by size, the clear standout was a puny little player who was quicker than everyone else and no one seemed to be able to catch. Her name was Aminah.
- Uncle Junior pulled out a bottle of Crown Royal and offered me a sip. I accepted. He also warned me to stay away from Lakeisha’s boyfriend because he is a “Hotep.” I didn’t know what that was but I took note.
- Sister Dorothy saw me drinking with Uncle Junior and gave me the side eye.
1:20 p.m.: A palpable hush enveloped the entire house, and I swear I could hear angels singing. The door opened and an older woman in a flowered dress floated into the living room on a beam of stardust holding two large pans. Two people began openly weeping (besides Sharon, who was still vowing to protest the committee’s decision). I didn’t know what was going on, but someone whispered in my ear, “That’s Aunt Wilma. The macaroni is here.”
2 p.m.: Lakeisha and her boyfriend asked Aunt Jannie if they had seasoned the greens with pork because they no longer eat “swine.” Aunt Jannie told them, “If Hotep Jesus, Osiris or Amun-Ra didn’t want you to eat pork, he wouldn’t have made hog maws so delicious. Be quiet. Don’t be like Kamisha.”
2:40 p.m.: It was almost time for dinner, so they called everyone in so Rev. Franklin could say grace.
2:50 p.m.: Rev. Franklin was still praying.
2:53 p.m.: Rev. Franklin was still praying. Sister Dorothy caught the Holy Ghost and started speaking in tongues.
2:56 p.m.: Uncle Junior took a sip of Crown Royal during the prayer and whispered, “Man, this n—ga is gon’ pray until Christmas Eve. The macaroni is getting cold.”
3 p.m.: The prayer ended and everyone lined up to fix their food. Uncle Junior was already sitting down eating.
3:30 p.m.: I sat down to eat. Because I was not old enough to sit at the table with “the elders,” I was seated in a third-grade classroom desk at the children’s table. I still didn’t see my bowl of potato salad and felt proud because that must have meant they ate it all up. I was also excited because I was finally going to get to taste Aunt Wilma’s macaroni and cheese.
3:38 p.m.: I took a bite of the macaroni and burst into tears. This must be what Jesus ate at the Last Supper. It tasted like a mixture of orgasm, hugs and winning the Super Bowl. Nothing even mattered any more.
4:15 p.m.: I was so full, I couldn’t move. I thought I was stuck in the desk. Uncle Junior helped me out, poured me some more Crown Royal and asked why my forehead was so greasy. I asked him who this Kamisha was that everyone was referring to. He told me that although she was the most successful member of the Harris clan—Kamisha was also the black sheep of the family.
I decided not to probe any further.
5:20 p.m.: Lakeisha’s new boyfriend came over to me and asked if I had atoned for my sins as “the oppressor.” I told him I made $28,000 a year and hadn’t oppressed anyone. He asked me if I was going to steal his culture like I had ravaged ancient Kemet. I told him I’d never been farther than Milwaukee and I didn’t even like the Muppets, but I that I did like the Kermit the Frog memes. He shook his head and left.
6 p.m.: OK, maybe I’m a little drunk. Jabari’s mixtape was kinda fire. Aminah was trying to teach me how to do the dab and everyone was laughing. Except Lakeisha’s boyfriend.
My forehead started sweating and I got anointing oil in my eye. As I ran to the bathroom to rinse out my eyes, Aunt Jannie told me, “If you have to dookie, spray when you’re finished.” Apparently I was the 14th person to use the bathroom because it smelled like dumpster juice, boiled eggs and Lysol. I held my breath and did my business.
6:43 p.m.: I offered to empty the garbage. It wasn't heavy—mostly just plates, cups, napkins—and what looked like my bowl of potato salad!
6:52 p.m.: I agreed to play one game of spades with James, but only to 350 and he must not insult me.
7:12 p.m.: I reneged. James called me a “cracker” and then ran a pound on me. So much for spades. Uncle Junior gave me a little more Crown. I spotted Lakeisha sucking on a neckbone in the corner.
8 p.m. As I grabbed my coat to leave, Aunt Wilma asked if I wanted some macaroni to take home. While she fixed me a plate, someone put on the most beautiful song I had ever heard. They told me the song was “Silent Night” by the Temptations, but it was not the same “Silent Night” that I remembered. It sounded like the physical manifestation of love.
Just as I was walking out the door, I took a look at this black family and wondered if this kind of diversity and unfiltered love existed anywhere else. Before I left, Uncle Junior told me I was too drunk to drive, but he had someone who would take me home. He walked me outside to a beautiful, black Mercedes-Benz with a woman sitting inside looking sad and forlorn.
“This is Kamisha,” he said.
We rode home in silence, but just before I climbed out of the car, I mustered up the courage to ask Kamisha why she had been ostracized from the family. I had to know what she did to make a group as loving as the Harrises kick her to the curb. Was she a sexual predator? A thief? Had she given away the banana pudding recipe? Kamisha turned to me and answered:
“I voted for Trump.”
As I wrote this story, I began thinking about the entire day, and I began to cry. It may have been due to the copious amount of Crown Royal, or because of the camaraderie and unrestricted love I received from the Harris family.
Nah. It was because I left my plate of macaroni in Kamisha’s car.
Happy Thanksgiving to you from the Harris family and The Root!
*The Harris family is purely satire, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. But don't front; we all know a Harris family.