Three generations of a large, extended family gather in a big old farm house for the holiday weekend. One grandparent has spent the best part of the day in the kitchen. The other runs errands as needed, and goes from room to room, keeping the family supplied with snacks, drinks, games, and the occasional hug.
The grown children and their partners, and most of the grandchildren made it back for Thanksgiving. They all seem happy to see each other, and are doing things together. There is a cribbage tournament happening in the living room, two of the younger grandchildren have taken over the basement television to play Minecraft. Two of the teen-aged grand-kids are perched on the couch, making a point of ignoring the gamers, and showing each other things on Tik-Tok.
There is a good buzz in the house, and a sense of joy, and anticipation for the impending meal. The scent of roast turkey is a promise of what is soon to come, that can be smelled in every room in the house. Everyone seems in the holiday spirit, except for the new partner of one of the middle generation. They have spent the day holed up in an upstairs bedroom.
This new partner, who’s at the family farm for the first time, makes their money in day trading. They buy and sell in markets based around the world, in places that don’t celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. The longest sentence they’ve said to their partner that morning was “Money doesn’t take the day off, so neither do I.”
Their partner is somewhat used to this, but hoped they might take a break at least for a few hours. The compromise they reached, with hard looks at three paces, was the day-trader would join the family for supper.
Since then, the day-trader has invested their time like any other day. Tracking jagged peaks and valleys and little numbers on the screens of twin lap-tops, typing buy and sell and orders on their ipad, and talking on their Bluetooth headset.
They eat mini-pretzels by the jumbo bag they get from Costco, which they wash down with diet cola, also bought in bulk. They brought all their own supplies with them from the city.
The soda makes their stomach feel growly and empty, but they depend on the caffeine to stay alert. More soda leads to more handfuls of salty crunch, which leads to more salt induced thirst, and on and on.
One the Minecraft kids said, “We’re like, in the country. The wi-fi is super slow, and we’re all online. Won’t that mess them up?”
“The oldest of the Tik-Tokkers looked up from their phone to say, “I checked the available connections in settings. They are running off their own hot spot. I wonder what the password is for Cash4Me2021.”
The other teenager says, “I bet you my piece of pie it’s the same as the license plate on their land rover, but don’t even think about trying it.”
By the time the potatoes are mashed, the gravy is in the boat, and the turkey carved and on the platter, two industrial size bags of mini-pretzels have been washed down with a two litre bottle of the dark bubbles. There have been numerous quick trips to the bathroom down the hall from the bedroom where they’ve hidden all day, but the trader hasn’t been downstairs, or spoken a word to anyone in the family. All three generations were warned to leave them alone while they worked.
The grandparent who ran the kitchen today has the other one travel the house announcing “Supper is ready”, and the extended family gathers in the dining room. There are extra chairs crowded in around the big table, that has both leafs in today. There is also a card table added to one end, for those who are last to the table. The family gave up on having a kid’s table years ago, because everyone wanted to be together.
The chairs around the tables fill in. Except for one. The day trader is the last to enter the dining room. They barely look up from the text they are reading. They don’t see the look on their partner’s face until they sit, and shut the phone down. One of the grandparents says, “It’s good to see you! How have you been?”
The day trader says, “Up about 11,000 dollars for the day. Parked it in my U.S. dollar account.”
The grandparent who asked says, “That sounds like work went well. But how are you?”
The day-trader’s partner sinks a little lower in their chair.
The day-trader picks up their phone, rises from the folding chair, and says, “Oh. To tell you the truth, I am a little tired. I really just came down to say hello, and good night.”
“Aren’t you going to join us for the meal?”, asked the grandparent who cooked all day.
“Honestly, I kind of filled up on snacks I brought from home, and don’t really need anything. But thanks for the offer.”
The day trader was up and gone before anyone at the big table could think of what to say.
The grandparent who had entertained the whole crew while the other was in the kitchen said. “We should get to passing food before it gets cold. This all looks great.”
One of the grand-kids looked around the table and said, “Let’s say grace first. We have a lot, so much, to say thanks for.”