Chapter 20 | Thanksgiving Day
𝐍 𝐎 𝐀 𝐇
Thanksgiving Day is one of the most chaotic days of the year, other than Christmas and New Year in the Jackson household. Since a lot of the family, such as cousins are guys, and the majority of us play or played football we have big appetites so a lot more food needs to be made. As well as having to get extra tables out of storage and putting away valuables into another room. Since it doesn’t take much for stuff to get broken when the entire family is around.
Should I have warned Ava how crazy today gets? Probably, but it’s too late now.
My family immediately took a liking to Ava as soon as I introduced her yesterday. It’s no surprise considering it’s impossible to not like her. They were more than happy to let her stay over the holidays since she’s so far away from home. That’s the type of people they are. It surprised them when I asked them if she could say, as I have never brought a girl home for thanksgiving before. Including my ex, who never came over because my parents didn’t like her. I should have listened to them.
“Morning mama,” I kiss my mom’s cheek as I walk into the kitchen seeing her, grandma and Emery already cooking and Liam trying to eat it, but Emery keeps pushing him away. “Gran,” I kiss her cheek. “Ava not awake yet?”
“Oh, she is. She came down to say good morning and Luna wanted her to do her hair for her. She’s upstairs with her, it’s so cute,” Mom explains.
“I think she’s Luna’s new favorite person,” Liam states and I chuckle.
“Damn, she’s stealing my favorite sibling off me.”
Liam scoffs. “Harsh dude.”
“Aww, you’re very cute,” Emery kisses him.
“Cute? I’m fucking handsome,” Liam states in offense.
“Yes, you are. I made very handsome and cute kids,” Mom smiles proudly, and we all laugh.
“Liam was not a cute kid. Have you seen his baby pictures? He was an ugly baby. Pray your future kids don’t look like him,” I tell Emery, who laughs.
“Why don’t you shut up and go find your girlfriend?” Liam smirks as I roll my eyes.
“Not my girlfriend,” I remind him, before heading upstairs. Reaching Luna’s bedroom, seeing the door open, I lean against the frame seeing them sitting on the bed. Ava is behind Luna doing her hair while Luna rambles about random things and Ava listens intently, sometimes pitching in.
“Noah-Bear,” Luna giggles when she sees me, opening her arms as I walk over. Ava raises her eyebrow at me for the nickname which I know she’ll tease me about.
“Luna-Bell,” I jump onto the bed and she giggles, turning I lean on my side, propping my head up with my hand. “Is Ava a good hairdresser?” I ask and she nods. “Is she your new favorite? I feel like I’ve been replaced,” I fake sadness as Luna agrees. “I’m wounded, I’ll never recover,” Flopping onto my back, Luna climbs over me to hug me. “That’s better, let Ava finish your hair off,” Luna crawls back to sit in front of Ava as Ava continues to finish Luna’s hair for her. “Sleep okay?”
“Yeah, I did thanks. Luna has been telling me stories about you?” Ava smirks as Luna giggles.
“What did you say?” I look down at Luna, who makes a closed zip motion.
“Oh, no, you don’t. That’s between Luna and me. I promised I wouldn’t tell,” Ava smiles over at me and I roll my eyes. “Ok and we’re all done. Come on, let’s go look in your mirror.”
Ava helps Luna off the bed, and they walk to the mirror at Luna’s small vanity desk. Luna’s face beams at the ballerina bun Ava has done for her.
“I love it,” Luna giggles touching the bun on her head, “I look like a ballerina,” She twirls around. “Thank you Ava,” Luna hugs Ava who hugs her back before Luna goes off to find mom.
“I love her, she’s so fucking adorable,” Ava smiles and I agree.
“Yeah, you two seem to get along. I’m sure she loves you already,” I throw my arm over her shoulder as we walk out of the room and head downstairs. Luna is showing off her new hairstyle to the family as soon as we get downstairs, and Liam’s eyes wander to my arm draped over Ava as a smirk appears on his face. I flip him off without anyone seeing.
“You look very beautiful, Luna, have you thanked Ava?” Mom asks and Luna nods. “Good girl. Now I want you two boys out of my kitchen, go get your father and brothers and start setting up the dining area. Luna, why don’t you get the decorations and start decorating and Ava you can help,” Mom commands and we all get on with our duties.
Liam and I walk out of the kitchen, heading to the garage as Liam speaks up. “So, I didn’t realize how close you and Ava are as friends. She seems nice and the family like her.”
“Yeah, I mean I’m closer to her than I am to Hannah or Sierra. I’m pretty sure Luna wants her to stay.”
“Figures, remember when she met Emery,” Liam says and we laugh remembering it’s the same. “Is there anything going on between you two? I mean, you guys seem close.”
“I don’t know, man. She’s great, I mean we kissed at the cabin but we kind of ignored it. She’s the only girl I can see myself getting into a relationship with and trusting enough, while still being focused on getting into the NFL.”
“Never thought that would happen again after your ex, you just swore of all girls after that,” Liam says. “You’d be an idiot to not pursue things with her. It’s clear you like her and she seems to like you, I think she’s too special to you for you to let her get away. You pushed me to propose when I was scared, I’ll fucking shove you to ask her out if I have to.”
I laugh. “Whatever. Are you helping or what?”
Shouting to my dad and brothers, they come over and start helping us move more tables into the house.
𝐀 𝐕 𝐀 𝐋 𝐎 𝐍
A couple hours later, I’m helping in the kitchen with Grandma Rose, Sarah, Emery and a few of Noah’s aunts and his only girl cousin. His aunts and cousin look surprised to know Noah has brought me home for Thanksgiving. Even after I explained, it’s because I can’t get home. He really has never brought a girl home.
“So how did you and Noah meet?” Noah’s cousin Isabelle asks as me, Emery and her sit at the island plating up the food.
“I got assigned to write an article on the football team, Noah offered to help me with the terminology.”
“That’s Noah for you, so sweet,” One of his aunt’s smile.
“We spent a lot of time with him, Aiden and Dylan and Aiden is actually dating one of my best friends now.”
“Noah told us Aiden has a girlfriend. He’s so sweet and deserves someone nice,” Sarah smiles.
“God help the girl that gets Dylan. He always tries to steal the food I make and suck up,” Grandma Rose shakes her head, but it’s easy to spot the smile on her face.
“Hi,” Luna skips into the kitchen. “Mommy, I finished decorating and the boys won’t let me play with them,”
“It’s okay baby, you can stay in here with us,” Sarah offers, and Luna walks over to me holding up her arms. I chuckle and lift her up, as she sits on my lap and I wrap my arms around her so she’s safe.
“Luna’s taken with you Ava. She won’t let you leave,” Grandma Rose points out and I laugh.
“That’s fine. I’ll send Noah back to campus.”
They all laugh, and Noah comes walking into the kitchen. “Hey, I heard that! Guess I came in at the right time, don’t need anyone telling Ava stories about me.”
“Oh, don’t worry, we have plenty to tell you when he’s not around,” Isabella smirks and I laugh.
Noah rolls his eyes before reaching for some food, and his grandma hits his hand with a wooden spoon. “Ow shit grandma, what the fuck?”
“Noah Alexander Jackson, you know not to swear in front of your little sister,” Sarah scolds him as Grandma Rose tuts.
“Well, grandma hit me with a wooden spoon. What was I supposed to do? That hurt.”
I chuckle. “Don’t be such a baby.”
“Says the one scared of heights,” Noah retaliates.
“Hey, I got on that Ferris wheel, didn’t I?” I poke him in the chest, and he nods his head in agreement. “Then don’t judge me.”
“Maybe we should get Noah over his clown fear,” Isabella mentions, smirking.
“I’ll pass,” Noah chokes out before turning and heading out of the kitchen as we all laugh.
𝐍 𝐎 𝐀 𝐇
We all gather in the dining room, once the food has been set down, making it accessible for everyone. Everyone rushes to the seats they want, mostly taking seats that are near the food they want the most. Ava walks over holding Luna’s hand before Luna hops up onto a seat and motions for Ava to sit next to her, making me chuckle.
“She will lock you in her room to make sure you stay if you’re not careful,” I whisper into Ava’s ear, making her chuckle. Pulling out her chair for her, she smiles thanking me before sitting down and I take the seat next to her. Looking up, I see some of my family, mostly the adults, picked up on that gesture. “How was helping out?”
“It was great. They’re amazing. Thanks again for the invite, I would be in bed right now studying,” She explains, and I chuckle.
“Ok everyone. Before you animals eat the food, let’s say what we’re thankful for,” Mom announces, and everyone groans.
“Sarah, by the time we go around the table, the food will be cold. This family is too big for that,” Dad sighs.
“Shush. We’re doing it and you can start,” Mom smirks. One by one everyone goes around and says what they’re thankful for, the younger ones keeping it short and sweet, ready for the food.
“Well, I’m thankful for my amazing fiancé for being the most amazing person ever. To all of you for inviting me into your family and accepting me. You’ve all been the family I’ve always wanted,” Emery gushes, tearing up, thinking about her time in the foster system.
“Ok seriously, how the hell am I supposed to beat that?” I joke to lighten the mood, and everyone laughs.
“It isn’t a competition Noah. Ava, could you?” Grandma asks, gesturing towards me.
“Oh, with pleasure,” Ava smiles before slapping me upside the head.
“Ow! I don’t like that you and her are in cahoots with each other,” I rub the back of my head and Ava shrugs. “Can I take you back to your apartment and revoke my invite?” I question, but she shakes her head. “Anyway, I’m thankful for my family because I know I’m very lucky to have what we have. I’m thankful for having football in my life to give me purpose and a career path to love, and I’m thankful for the old and new friends.”
Sarah looks over at Ava and Ava begins to say what she’s thankful for. “I’m thankful for my dad for being the best parent and my dog Blue. I’m thankful for my friends and the new ones I’ve made, and I’m thankful for you all. For inviting me into your home and letting me celebrate with you,”
After everyone finishes saying what they’re thankful for, we all dig into the food. Passing around the trays and piling up our plates. I remind Ava to stack up because there will be no seconds.
“You did great Sarah,” Dad kisses mom, making Liam and I look away. Seeing your parent’s kiss is not something you want to see. “This pumpkin pie is amazing.”
“Actually, Ava made that,” Mom smiles proudly, and Ava blushes under the stares.
“Can you give her the recipe?” Dad asks Ava, who laughs.
“It’s my mom’s recipe. I swore to never tell.”
Dad’s face falls making the rest of us laugh and Ava promises to make it again sometime and give it to me to bring back.
“If I don’t eat it on the way here first,” I joke, and Dad throws a glare my way.
“Well, it’s amazing. Even better than mine and I never say that,” Grandma gushes and we all agree with her knowing no pie has come close to beating grandma’s in the past.
“The way to win over this family is food,” I lean into Ava and she nods her head. “Same goes for Dylan.”
“I’ve noticed. When I cooked breakfast that time after Halloween, he wouldn’t stop hugging me.”
“He was like that with Aiden and I first. We pushed him off, now he’s trained well,” I joke, passing her the mashed potatoes which she accepts. “Spoken to your dad today?”
“Yeah, we spoke this morning. I’ll call him later, or tomorrow if I get put into a food coma,” She laughs, and I chuckle. “This is so different from how we celebrate, but I like it.”
“I’m pretty sure they’d let you gate crash anytime,” I point out. “Wait until later, we always have a firework show.”
She throws an excited smile my way before we join in with the rest of the table conversation.
The chilly evening takes over and we are all gathered outside in the garden, ready for the fireworks show. While my dad and uncles set them up, the cousins play football and the rest of us are sat around the fire pit on the couches, waiting and talking. Ava rests comfortably into my side, with my jacket draped around her legs since she is wearing a dress and Luna is sat in my lap drawing. My arm rests around Ava’s shoulder as she is in deep conversation with my mom, while I help Luna draw.
“How’s Thanksgiving with the Jackson’s been?” Liam asks Ava, as Emery is cuddled into his side reading a book.
“Eventful. This is very different to what I’m used to, but it’s nice. You’re lucky to have big family events like this.”
“Most of the time we try not to kill each other,” Liam admits, making her laugh. “I’m surprised Noah hasn’t chased you off yet.”
I roll my eyes. “I’m a delight to be around, I’ll have you know.”
“Not yet. I’ve gotten used to his annoying ways,” She smirks, and I pinch her side, making her yelp out loud and glare at me. “Jerk.”
“Ok everybody. The firework show is ready!”
Dad’s voice booms over the garden and everyone stops what they’re doing to all gather in a crowd. We get up and I grab my jacket that falls off Ava’s legs as she stands before wrapping it around her shoulders.
“So you don’t get cold,” I shrug and she smiles, before leaning into my side with my arm wrapped around her as we join where everyone else is standing.
“Here we go!” Dad shouts before lighting them up. They fly into the sky and start bursting everywhere as we all look up at them. Ava wraps her arms around my waist and rests her head on my shoulder.
“Better than staying at college?” I ask her and she nods her head.
“Much better. Thanks for everything, Noah.”
Definitely the best Thanksgiving yet.