Ben Shafer
Social Media Editor

In a constantly evolving family, there has never been a set tradition for Thanksgiving. Every year something new and typically unusual takes place and I’ve learned to never hold expectations. They can and will be broken.
It would be easy to say that my step brother Andy is the most unusual of my family members, but it would be safe to say that about everyone else, and if we did have to rank levels of unusualness, I would most likely be at the top.
While living in Concord, North Carolina, Andy invited us to spend Thanksgiving with him in the mountains. Andy planned to build a small cabin on land given to him by his wife Alexis’s family to live in. We let him live this fantasy.
We had been to Concord before during the earlier stages of his cabin. Andy smoked a turkey in an old oil barrel while he, my stepfather and I helped him with the cabin. I expected a similar experience. I was very wrong.
I am a very antisocial person, and I have a hard time dealing with crowds of people even with a comfort blanket in most cases being my mother. Instead of eating another smoked turkey in the woods while my stepbrother embarrassed himself, we went back to Alexis’s aunt’s house.
I had stayed in this house previously when her family was away on vacation, but this time around, I found it anything but vacant. People flooded each door in and out. Typically, I hate people, and while I did have a strong feeling of anxiety, something felt different.
In a house loaded with strangers, I’ve never felt more welcomed. The host was a kind woman in her late thirties, and made it her job to connect with everyone in her house. Her voice felt like caramel. With her voice I felt more connected to her than I have ever felt to Andy.
I knew in this time I would never see any of these people again, and while I knew I didn’t have to talk to them, I loved hearing their stories and experiences, swimming through a galaxy of lifetimes, trying to relate them to my own life. For whatever reason I held them to the expectation that I would feel the same level of relation with them as I did with Andy, but I was wrong. These people were new and exciting, and I understood them.
Things never stop changing. To this day I still don’t know Andy very well. He lost his cabin when he divorced Alexis. I never returned to that house. I haven’t even been to Concord since then. I don’t know what this upcoming Thanksgiving will give me, but I know to look for something exciting. I may never get this experience again, but maybe I can create this experience for someone else later in life.