Those who were ready, able and willing streamed out of the house into the backyard for the annual Weston Touch Football Family Show Down. It had been a tradition for years and now Phil and Sam served as team captains. Those who wanted to play joined sides and the game was on.
"This beats Griffs-Lakers any day," Phil grinned.
"You'll always be our Coach, Dad," Beth said as the teams lined up.
The games were always competitive but fun with everybody getting a chance to participate. On this day, Sam's group won by a touchdown but there was no fighting, arguing or crying at game's end and the family members returned to the house for the customary pie and coffee before wrapping up the holiday.
Melanie, who stopped playing in the game after pulling her hammy a few years earlier, had a warm fire going in the fireplace and had already started the wine with a few of her sister-in-laws. The house smelled of burning firewood, apple and pumpkin pie, cinnamon, coffee, and burning candles.
"Now comes the sad endings," Phil joked as he joined his wife in the living room with a glass of bourbon in his hand. "The goodbyes."
"Don't worry, Christmas is just around the corner," Sam replied. "Our turn."
Once the pies were eaten and the coffee and wine consumed, various relatives began to leave in small groups with emotional farewells, thank yous, hugs and compliments.
It wasn't until everybody had left (including Beth and Kalie who were meeting friends for a late drink) that Phil and Melanie were able to finally unwind and relax after the long day.
"Do you think our lives could be any more perfect?" Melanie asked as they sat cuddling on the couch in front of the fire.
Phil leaned in and kissed her long and deep. "Thanks for pulling this all off yet again," he whispered in her ear. "Thanks for doing all that you do."
"I thought it went well," Melanie replied. "No drunken scenes this year. No political arguments. No boyfriend drama with the girls for a change. It was nice."
"I think everybody enjoyed themselves," Phil said. "I'm thankful to have you in my life."
"Well, after thirty-two years of marriage, I should hope so!" Melanie grinned.
"We've been together for almost forty," Phil said proudly.
"Not too many people who get together at twelve make it this far!" Melanie laughed.
Phil kissed the tip of her nose, then her lips. "Here's to forty more."
"Happy Thanksgiving, my love," Melanie smiled. "Let's go to bed."
It wasn't that quick, of course - more piddling clean up, quick showers, brushing teeth - the usual nightly requirements.
Phil was dozing in the bed patiently waiting for Melanie to finish with her tasks. She finally emerged from the bathroom wearing a slinky nightie Phil hadn't seen on her in a dozen years.
"We already had sex today," Phil joked, repeating her line from earlier in the day.
"Well, it is Thanksgiving," Melanie purred as she knelt on the bed.
She gently pushed him back on the mattress and straddled him and they made love in their customary position. Later, she lay against him under the covers.
"Well, Coach, it looks like it's all over," Melanie said with reflective resignation.
"No, my dear, it's just starting," Phil assured her.
"Best Thanksgiving ever?" Melanie wanted to know.
"Thankfully," Phil said, kissing the crown of her head.