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Summary of Thanksgiving

by Jay Hartleroad
edited by Elizabeth Angela

It is the day before Thanksgiving, and Lily pushes a shopping cart through the local market. Grace and Zoe walk in front of her whispering together secretly. Judy approaches Lily's shopping cart, carrying a large frozen turkey. "Can we keep him, Mommy? Can we keep him?" she says in a little girl voice before depositing it into the cart. Judy asks her nieces what they are talking about. They tell her it's nothing and split apart. Lily reads from her grocery list. Cranberry sauce. Sweet potatoes. Margarine.

"You hate margarine," Grace says. "Grammy and Grandpa," Lily reminds her.

"And we're not allowed to get the stuffing ingredients." "How come?" asks Zoe, climbing into the shopping cart for some goldfish crackers. Judy bends closer to Zoe.

"Because your grandmother is insane," she jokes. Lily wonders if the turkey is too big for six people.

"Well, we can always invite Daddy," Grace suggests. Lily tells the girls their father won't be joining them, but they won't give up so easily. This is Thanksgiving, and Jake spending it alone would seem like "cruel and unusual punishment." Grace steps in front of the cart. "Just say you'll consider it."

"It's not possible," Lily answers and proceeds down the aisle. Grace stands watching Lily. She can't believe how stubborn her mother is being.

At Rick's apartment, Eli sits in the living room reading a book while his father is nearby in the kitchen working on building plans. That is until Jessie comes in and plops down on the arm of Eli's chair. Eli doesn't want to be bothered, so he gets up and goes to another room. Jessie can't understand why "everyone is acting so nonholiday-ish." She looks at her father. "Let's bake something, Dad," she suggests.

"Bake something?" Rick says, looking up from his work. "I don't know, sweetie. I don't think so." Jessie walks over and sits on her father's lap and asks what he'll be doing tomorrow. Rick doesn't have anything special planned, just going over business with David. But realizing Jessie is concerned, he tells her that they will probably not do any work but will "grab a bite and see a movie."

"It doesn't sound very Thanksgiving-ish," she says. "Well, it will be a Thanksgiving-ish bite," Rick says, trying to reassure her. He kisses her cheek, but Jessie is sad now. She gets off her father's lap and walks away, disappointed that no one shares her enthusiasm for the holiday.

Back at Lily's house, she, Judy and Grace are bringing the groceries into the kitchen. Lily still wonders if the turkey might be too big for six people. Judy suggests inviting another guest, and Grace asks if they are talking about inviting Jake. "No, Gracie," Judy says, "Actually something else." Grace wants to know but Lily interrupts, asking Judy to make room in the refrigerator for the groceries. From outside, Zoe announces that a car has pulled into the driveway. Grace runs outside. A car horn honks, and Lily and Judy look out the kitchen window and then at each other. Their parents have arrived. "It's show time," Judy declares, making a gesture like she is firing a starting pistol.

Grace and Zoe are already at the rental car welcoming Grandma and Grandpa Brooks. "Holy Smokes! Get a load of these shmendricks!" Phil Brooks exclaims, hugging his granddaughters. He is enthusiastic and outgoing. When Lily and Judy come out the front door, Phil couldn't be happier. He gives both his "beautiful girls" a bear hug. Barbara Brooks is just relieved to have survived the crowded flight and rental car line. She too is happy to see her grandchildren and daughters, but isn't as animated as her husband. She has bought lanyard kits for the girls, a present Grace reacts to skeptically behind Barbara's back. Suddenly Phil asks, "So where's Jake?" The question takes Lily slightly aback since she and Jake have been separated "for some time now." Her parents don't see anything wrong in asking since the separation is still so new to them. They would like to see him though.

Lily claims to understand but as Grace and Zoe lead their grandparents inside, Lily expresses her disbelief to Judy. "Can you say 'nervous breakdown'?" Lily asks. "Can you say 'Barbados'?" Judy responds. "Cause that's where we're gonna be next year. Bar. Ba. Dos."

After a while Phil and Barbara have settled into Lily's bedroom. Barbara is getting Phil his medication, hoping the sleeping arrangements aren't an imposition on Lily. Lily wants to explain her situation with Jake, but Phil tells her to forget about it. They understand if she doesn't want to see Jake or the renovations he's made to the restaurant, though it "seems like a shame." "Sweetie, it's okay," her father says. "It really is. It's whatever you decide."

Given this "option," Lily, of course, accompanies her parents to the restaurant, along with Judy. Jake comes out from the renovation area to greet them. He is surprised to see Lily but happy his in-laws are here, and they are happy to see him. He hugs Barbara and then Phil. The two men squeeze each other tightly. "Dad," Jake says, with genuine affection. "I missed you, you son of a bitch," Phil says. Judy notices that this still existing bond doesn't sit well with Lily. As Jake leads Phil and Barbara to see the expansion, Lily slips away, telling Judy she'll be right back.

[In a black and white interview, Phil and Barbara explain that Jake initially wasn't interested in the restaurant business. However, he eventually worked his way up. Then when Phil retired he sold the restaurant to Jake and Lily on terms, with payments over a ten year period. "To tell you the truth, it made us happy," Phil explains. "Because now the restaurant--" "--would continue on," Barbara finishes for him. Phil continues: "Because it's your flesh and blood, your business. You want it to go to someone who'll appreciate it for what it is." "And Jake was that person," Barbara adds. "There was no one else," Phil concludes. However, for a moment he seems sadly reflective.]

Drywall is up, but the expansion is far from complete. Phil and Barbara couldn't be happier though. They rave about the extra space and revenue potential of seventy-five more seats. Jake smiles, pleased he has impressed them.

[Phil and Barbara admit Jake makes "impulsive" business decisions, but he's still "a good boy".]

Meanwhile, Lily is in the restaurant kitchen talking on her cell phone to Rick, who is making pumpkin bread with a much happier Jessie. Lily is already stressed by her parents' visit. "It's amazing," she says. "They get out of that rental car and I'm so happy to see them. And within five minutes they've destroyed my will to live." Lily wants to see him, but Rick knows it isn't possible. "Aren't you like grounded or something?" Rick jokes, which makes Jessie giggle.

In the dining area Judy smokes. She doesn't see her mother until she hears, "Judith Brooks!" Barbara snatches the cigarette before Judy can extinguish it, and takes a long drag, then exhales slowly. "Don't you dare tell on me," she says.

Judy doesn't want to see the renovation, or Jake. "He broke my sister's heart and betrayed her trust, but he's improving the restaurant? You don't see anything wrong with this picture?" she asks, incredulously. When Barbara accidentally mentions that Jake is behind a few payments, Judy is outraged, but Barbara tells her not to mention anything to Lily.

Jake is still in the renovation area explaining the circumstances for the construction delay to Phil. Phil volunteers to help Jake finish the work, assuring him it isn't any trouble. Lily enters with Barbara and Judy. They need to leave so Lily can start dinner. "Oh, speaking of dinner," Phil says, turning to Jake. "What are you doing tomorrow night?" Lily is stunned. "Honey, for godssake, it's Thanksgiving," Phil says. Once again she is being asked to consider having Jake over. But these are her parents, not her daughters. Reluctantly, she agrees to think about it.

On Thanksgiving morning, Lily slowly opens her eyes, which are met across the room by Zoe's gecko. She tosses one of Zoe's stuffed animals from behind her head and continues contemplating the gecko, until Zoe lifts her pet out of the tank to show Grandpa. Phil is slightly uncomfortable around the reptile, suggesting Zoe might be happier with a Barbie. He asks Lily if there's anything she wants him to do because he's "rarin' to go."

A few minutes later Phil is at the kitchen table already fast asleep. Lily comes downstairs and is startled to see her father this way, but Barbara isn't concerned. This is "just a part of getting older," though she mentions, almost as an afterthought, that his sleeping makes her feel "strange." However, she continues, what's important is for Lily to consider the invitation Phil made to her "husband." She adds that Phil and Jake talk on the phone constantly. In fact, the last time Jake called "he said he saw no reason why this whole thing couldn't be cleared up by Thanksgiving." Barbara wakes Phil up so he can help Jake at the restaurant and she can get her stuffing ingredients. Lily says nothing as her parents kiss her on the cheek goodbye, but she isn't happy they so readily believe whatever Jake tells them.

Rick and the children arrive at Karen's, who comes out on the porch to greet them. Eli hurries past her so as not to miss the football game on television. Jessie presents Karen with the loaf of pumpkin bread she and Rick baked the night before. Saj, Karen's assistant, comes out in an apron asking if he should be basting the turkey. Jessie still isn't convinced her father will have a pleasant Thanksgiving, when who should she see pulling up and stumbling on the curb but Lloyd Lloyd. "You didn't tell me that Lloyd Lloyd guy was coming," she says, but Karen tells her to be polite. Stammering a hello, Lloyd shakes hands with Rick and then presents a small bouquet of flowers to Karen. Karen lets Rick know when she'll drop the kids off as she and Lloyd enter the house. The front door closes, and Rick is suddenly by himself. The neighborhood is so quiet. Walking back to his jeep he pauses beside the tilted lamppost in the front yard. He straightens it with a light push then continues on.

Arriving at his office, Rick checks his messages at the front desk when he hears giggling and kissing sounds. He discovers David getting cozy with Melanie, an attractive blond who is sitting on his desk. She quickly tugs her skirt down and tells David she'll be waiting outside. "Melanie? Maple Syrup Melanie?" Rick says. David explains he ran into her unexpectedly while standing in line for coffee, and he wonders if Rick wouldn't mind if he spent Thanksgiving with her instead. Rick understands perfectly. "Quick, before she figures out what she's doing." David leaves and Rick sits alone for a moment. He finds Melanie's black scarf draped over a desk lamp just as she sneaks back to retrieve it. She leaves and Rick is by himself again.

In Karen's living room. Lloyd suggests everyone play a game of charades as an ice breaker. Jessie tries to excuse herself claiming she doesn't know how to play, but Lloyd assures her he will teach her. Jessie is not pleased.

Meanwhile at Lily's, she and Judy are setting the dining room table. Lily complains that her parents believe everything Jake tells them, when Judy accidentally mentions the money he owes. Lily goes into the kitchen to ask her mother about this, but Barbara is more concerned that there isn't any butter for her secret stuffing. Lily presses for more information about the payments, but Barbara remains silent. "This is unbelievable!" says Lily. "Do you and Daddy find him so damned irresistible you forgive him anything!"

Barbara doesn't answer. Instead she tells Lily of the time years ago when Phil cheated on her. Lily has heard this story before: how her mother kicked her father out of the house with an ultimatum, and after five days he returned to her begging to be taken back. "We weathered the storm. We just didn't throw up our hands," Barbara says. "Is that what you think I'm doing?" asks Lily. "I've agonized over this. I've lain awake nights"

"I didn't say you didn't," claims Barbara. Lily can't believe her mother's denial. Suddenly Zoe appears in the doorway wanting to show Grandma how far she's come along with her lanyard kit. Examining the work, Barbara tells her she's done it "all wrong" and instructs Zoe on the correct way to weave the strands.

[In black and white, Lily describes what a "capable" homemaker her mother is -- then realizes she has never gone to her for help her entire life.]

Lily volunteers to get butter, but Barbara says she can make do with margarine.

[Barbara explains how "cold" her mother was and how she promised herself she would be different with her own children.]

Barbara finishes correcting Zoe's lanyard kit. Now it's time to start the stuffing. Lily wants to explain what she's feeling and have her mother's support, but that chance is no longer there. Leading Zoe to the next room, Lily looks back at her mother who is humming and beginning work on her secret stuffing just as she has so many times in the past.

At the restaurant, Jake and Phil finish wiring an electrical outlet. Phil wants to know what happened to cause the separation. Jake admits he was "bad" but doesn't say just how bad. Since this person is no longer in the picture, Phil can't understand why Jake and Lily can't work beyond it like he and Barbara did. Everyone makes mistakes. He hands Jake his coat. It's time to stop wishing for things to be better and go home to his family.

Back in Lily's kitchen, Zoe watches Barbara take the turkey out of the oven when Phil and Jake arrive. Zoe runs to her father who lifts her up into his arms just as Grace and Lily enter from the living room. Grace is surprised but thrilled her father is able to attend Thanksgiving dinner. "We asked Mom if you could come, and she said no," Zoe tells Jake. "Well, I know how to ask your mommy in a very special way," Phil says. Lily says nothing, although she is clearly upset.

At Karen's, Lloyd explains in exhaustive detail all the hand signals needed to play charades properly. Karen listens politely but notices Jessie's bored expression.

Meanwhile, on a quiet residential street, Rick parks his jeep and begins walking.

By early evening, the Mannings and Brookses sit down to a beautifully candlelit table. Lily and Jake sit diagonally opposite one another. Phil asks everyone to say what they're thankful for. Grace is thankful Jake is having dinner with them, and that Lily changed her mind. "Actually...." Lily starts, as Phil interrupts to say this isn't the time. But Grace wants to know, so Lily tells her that it wasn't her idea to invite Jake. Quickly Phil and his daughters begin arguing, despite Barbara's attempts to continue with a traditional family dinner. Lily is upset that her father didn't take her feelings into consideration. Phil's insistence that the family be together is more than Judy can tolerate. Aaron, her brother, isn't at the table, but Jake is? Jake gets up to leave, which upsets the girls. Finally, Phil appeals to everyone to put their differences aside long enough for a blessing and Thanksgiving dinner. Obediently everyone joins hands, and Phil gives thanks for his entire family, which includes Jake. "And may there be many more occasions such as this, only with a little less mishigas. Amen."

Rick is still walking on a quiet residential street. He stops to look at a family enjoying their holiday dinner when his cell phone rings. "Help," says Lily, in a hushed voice. She has finished dinner and is in an upstairs room. She relates the information about Jake's unexpected arrival, but actually she just wanted to hear Rick's voice. "I like your voice," Rick says, leaning against a tree. "I like your...I like your body." Lily smiles. "Why? I mean, what in particular?" she asks, intrigued. "The way it tells me all its secrets," he says. Lily sighs and asks where Rick is. It turns out he is nearby. She just wants to see him. "I need to lay eyes on someone who's sweet, non-judgmental," she says. "Who doesn't think I'm a selfish bitch. Please."

At Karen's house the game of charades is underway and Lloyd is giving clues. Saj doesn't understand Lloyd's gestures and gives up, laying his head in Karen's lap. Almost everyone is bored, except for Jessie; she has become involved in the game. Slowly she begins to guess the answer based on Lloyd's swimming pantomime. "Ohmigod! Titanic!" She whoops and high-fives Lloyd. "My turn!" she exclaims.

Rick arrives at Lily's. They are still communicating on their phones, she in the upstairs bedroom, he on the sidewalk across the street. After she spots him, Lily rushes downstairs. She goes into the kitchen where Barbara, Jake and Judy are cleaning the dishes. Lily makes a hasty excuse about taking out the trash and getting some fresh air. Rick is waiting by the trashcans. She rushes into his arms. They start to walk, arms around each other, Lily almost forgetting to get rid of the trash bag she came out with. Watching all of this from the kitchen window are Barbara and Phil.

Rick mentions how he used to walk down the streets of his hometown, wondering what life would be like in the other houses "where it seemed perfect." Abruptly Lily confesses, "I have a brother." She tells him about Aaron, who is a year younger. During her freshman year of college he visited her and told her a secret: he didn't need sleep any longer because he was immortal. After he was diagnosed as schizophrenic her parents didn't want anyone to know. Although Judy visits him at his group home in Chicago, Lily hasn't been able to over the last year, and she regrets it. "It just hurts so much to be around him because I....." Rick puts a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Because you miss him." "Yeah," she says. "I do." Rick leads Lily back home.

Back at Karen's house, she and Lloyd clear the dinner table and put away leftovers. He raves about the "amazing" dinner and her "charming" children. Karen tries to be modest, though she is somewhat flattered. Lloyd, however, has an anxious tendency of standing a little too close to her. He tells Karen how his son mentioned her, but in the midst of crisscrossing the kitchen and putting things away they nearly walk into one another and stand face to face. Lloyd begins to ramble on about Karen's "beautiful" house and children. "And I think they got their beauty from you." She is touched by the remark; but just as Lloyd leans in for a kiss Jessie calls from the living room. Karen moves away just as Jessie appears in the doorway. She wants to know if anyone would like to play Monopoly. Lloyd, sensing that his opportunity with Karen has passed, goes into the next room with Jessie. Karen realizes how closely she avoided what would have been an awkward situation.

The scene shifts back to Lily's kitchen. She has just returned from her walk much more relaxed But Barbara is upset and disappointed that Lily didn't tell her she was seeing someone. Phil, Zoe, Jake and Grace enter the kitchen and begin comparing notes aloud. Lily isn't just seeing someone; she's seeing a "dad," constantly. This ambush is more than Lily can tolerate and she quickly escapes to the dining room, where Judy is gorging on cheesecake. Barbara follows close behind Lily, claiming to know why she has gotten involved with someone else: she wanted to get back at Jake for hurting her. Jake has decided now is the time to leave and is at the front door. Phil, in an effort to break Barbara and Lily apart, asks if Barbara would like to say goodbye, but she continues to argue. Judy tries interjecting her opinion, but her mother curtly states this doesn't concern her. Judy mutters sarcastically that it never does. Phil is confused by her remark until Grace, manuevering past her grandfather to better hear the argument, explains what she meant. Judy tells Jake he should leave, but Phil says he can stay. Lily tells Grace to leave the room, but she refuses.

Barbara continues lecturing Lily about giving up on her marriage when Lily interrupts and reminds her mother that Jake, not she, was the one "who screwed up." Judy gets up from the table to lead the kids out of the room. Grace goes, reluctantly. Now it's just Lily, her parents and Jake. Lily can't believe how beguiled her parents are by Jake. Phil says it isn't about money. "Your father and I have an understanding," Jake says. "Like we did," Lily retorts. Phil criticizes Lily for not seeing that what he's doing is actually helping her, too. "And you don't owe anyone an explanation, son," he tells Jake. "Will you stop calling him that!" Lily screams. Jake leaves and Barbara hurries after him. Now Lily and her father are alone. Phil thinks she is overreacting about the payments, but Lily is more upset about her family's backward stance on secrets: money is a private matter, yet Lily's personal life is open for discussion. For the first time she has done something for herself and has only been met with disapproval. She picks some dishes off the table and carries them into the kitchen, leaving her father by himself.

Across town Rick returns to his apartment. Kicking off his shoes he notices Eli watching television, and, to his surprise, Jessie waiting for him with a small Thanksgiving dinner of leftovers she has set out. Rick smiles at his daughter's thoughtfulness.

Alone in her dining room, Lily clears the candles from the table and takes them into the kitchen. She sees the telephone and resists the urge to call Rick, but eventually gives in and dials his number.

Rick is enjoying his dinner immensely. Jessie sits close to him, beaming, when the phone rings. Lily tells Rick that she remembered he hasn't had anything to eat when she suddenly stops, realizing Rick is already enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner. "You're amazing," Rick says. Lily wishes Rick a happy Thanksgiving and hangs up. "This is delicious," he tells Jessie.

After Lily hangs up Grace enters the kitchen, leaning wearily against the doorway, sick from eating too much of the chocolate Barbara had given her.

Lily leads Grace to her bedroom where Zoe is jumping on the bed. Grace downs a glass of Alka-Seltzer and belches. She asks her mother if she agreed to let Jake come over for Thanksgiving. No, Lily says, she didn't; but she didn't let Grandpa know because she was afraid of disappointing him. The girls can't believe anyone would be afraid of their grandpa. She kisses them goodnight. "Do you hate Daddy?" asks Grace. "Because that's how you act." Lily pauses then answers, "Well, I can never really hate him because he gave me both of you." Grace and Zoe aren't satisfied with her generic response, but it's the only one Lily is giving.

Barbara and Phil are getting ready for bed. Lily quickly enters the bedroom and gets her nightgown without saying goodnight.

At Rick's apartment, Jessie clears the table while Rick asks if she had any fun with "old Lloyd Lloyd." She asks him how he thinks it went. "I think it was incredibly boring," Rick says. Jessie smiles at her father. "It was. Totally."

[Addressing the camera, Phil explains how a daughter's love for her father is one of life's most special things, but temporary. Eventually Daddy's little girl realizes her father is human after all, and is disappointed.]

[In the next black-and-white segment, Lily talks about what a wonderful father she had growing up. Still, she always felt she disappointed him, even before the separation.]

In Zoe's room Lily lies in bed reading a magazine. Phil enters and shuts the door behind him, claiming he couldn't sleep. He asks about the man Lily is seeing, the one the girls call "the dad." "You're in love with him," Phil tells her. Lily is surprised to hear this, but Phil says he knows what it's like to meet someone and fall in love. Lily wonders what he means. At first Phil hesitates but then explains the time he was unfaithful wasn't a one-night stand as Lily had thought, but a love affair, someone Phil believed he "couldn't live without." Even after he came back to Barbara, he continued seeing this other woman. Eventually, though, she got tired of waiting and married someone else. That, and Judy's birth, finally ended the relationship. But now, years later, Phil is glad he stayed married. He doesn't want his daughter to get swept up emotionally and make a decision that she will later regret.

Barbara unexpectedly enters, and Phil just has enough time to dry his eyes and put on his glasses. She wants him to come to bed and keep her company, but he tells her he will be there soon. Sensing that her husband and daughter are discussing something serious, she leaves, but keeps the door open. "Everyday I thank God that woman took me back," Phil says, adding: "Well, not every day." Phil believes people can change and learn from their mistakes; but Lily explains Jake was never in love with anyone else and that there wasn't just one woman, but several.

"Daddy, my marriage doesn't work," Lily says, tears dampening her eyes. "And even you can't fix it. And I'm sorry, I'm sorry I let you down." Phil kisses her daughter's forehead, assuring her she has done no such thing. He doesn't want to see his daughter cry, so he asks what the "Dad's" name is. Lily tells him. "Rick? Not a bad name," he muses. He looks at Lily. "Some Thanksgiving, huh?" Lily begins crying. As the camera slowly withdraws from the room Phil consoles his weeping daughter. "It's okay," he tells her. "Daddy's here. Everything's going to be okay."

The end.

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