It was Turkey Season, and all was well in the Jung-Kim household.
Actually, that’s a lie, it was complete chaos. But Doyoung was told that whenever he got stressed, he needed to ‘be cheerful and be positive’—the advice the courtesy of his best friend.
“Yuta, I swear to god, if you so much as even look at the pumpkin seeds, I will not hesitate to throw your sorry ass out on the streets on Thanksgiving,” Doyoung threatened. “Now get out of the kitchen and make yourself useful.”
“But you don’t really need all of those pumpkin seeds, do you?” Yuta complained, eyes glued to where his friend was seasoning the seeds to toast in the oven. His gaze then shifted to the batch that had just come out, sitting in a container for later. “Stealing a few seeds won’t hurt!”
“Sicheng, get your boyfriend out of here,” Doyoung said.
The Chinese male sighed, setting down the rolling pin from where he was getting the crust for the apple pie ready. Yuta whined as his boyfriend dragged him away from the kitchen and out of Doyoung’s hair.
“Guys, we’re back!” A voice practically bellowed from the doorway. “And we got the stuff for the turkey stuffing!”
“Congratulations,” Doyoung muttered. “Can you be any louder? I don’t think China heard you.”
“That’s great,” Kun said, ignoring Doyoung’s grumbling. The shorter male moved to Sicheng’s abandoned pie crust and continued the process of making it. “Set it down on the kitchen counter and we’ll get to it later.”
“You can actually hand it to me,” Taeyong said. “I just finished preparing the turkey.”
Youngho took the ingredients to his boyfriend, giving him a quick peck on the lips. “It looks great, sweetheart.”
“Thanks!” Taeyong beamed.
“Ooh, these look good,” Jaehyun said, sneaking up behind Doyoung to grab a handful of pumpkin seeds.
“Not you too!” Doyoung complained, swatting his hand away. “Get out! Anyone who isn’t helping with cooking preparations, out!”
“Can I have some pumpkin seeds, Dongyoung?” Jeno asked, approaching the kitchen with Jaemin in tow.
Doyoung smiled. “Of course.”
Jaehyun gaped at him. “I call favoritism!”
“That’s because it is,” the older snarked, allowing Jeno to take a few pumpkin seeds. “And at least Jeno asked.”
“But I’m your boyfriend,” Jaehyun pouted.
“Guys, move, I’m making toast,” Ten declared as he entered the kitchen, a loaf of sourdough bread in hand.
“Is that a Thanksgiving food?” Youngho asked, looking up from where he had his chin resting on Taeyong’s shoulder.
“Its not for the dinner, it’s for me. I want bread.”
He cut a few slices off the loaf and began to put them in the toaster. As he was fiddling with the knobs, however, one of them broke off. He blinked at it before trying to put it back on. When failing to do so, Ten straightened and reached in his pocket for his phone. Youngho watched him press a few buttons before holding it up to his ear.
“Donghyuck,” The Thai man greeted. “So, when did you break the toaster?” The younger must’ve denied it, because Ten argued, “What do you mean you didn’t? I saw you use it this morning, so you were the last person to use it. There was a broken knob lying right next to it!”
Ten took his phone call out of the kitchen, leaving room for Chenle and Yangyang to take his place. Naturally, the two youngest Chinese members flocked to where Kun was filling the pie with the cinnamon apples.
“Kunnie, the apple pie looks really good,” Chenle praised.
“That’s because it’s an ancient recipe,” Yangyang said seriously. “So ancient that Kun had time to perfect it through the ages.”
“Hey, are you calling me old!?”
“Well, I never said that.”
“But you were implying it!”
Ten returned to the kitchen, having finished his argument with Donghyuck. “Taeil and Jungwoo are coming back with a new toaster. They said to expect them in about ten minutes.”
The couple had taken Donghyuck, Guanheng, Shotaro, Yukhei, and Mark with them on a shopping trip. Upon hearing that they’d be back relatively soon, Doyoung felt his blood pressure rise. Donghyuck and Yukhei were the last thing this over-crowded kitchen needed. The kitchen could only fit so many people and with as many bodies packed into the small space as there was, it could be considered a fire hazard.
“Alright, everyone who isn’t cooking, get out,” Doyoung declared. “Go play games in the backyard or something. Just leave us to do the cooking.”
Kun herded Chenle and Yangyang out, much to their disappointment. With a last kiss to Taeyong, Youngho vacated the area as well, leaving Taeyong, Kun, Doyoung, Ten, and Jaehyun. Doyoung arched an eyebrow at the last two questioningly and Ten grumbled as he left as well, un-toasted bread in hand. Jaehyun, on the other hand, smiled fondly at his boyfriend.
“You’re doing just fine, don’t stress too much,” he murmured to him, kissing his forehead before leaving as well.
Doyoung felt his blood pressure return to normal levels and he went back to his task with a small smile on his face.
They’ve done it. After two days of preparation, the large friend group has finally done it. All the food was prepared, all the decorations were in place, and everyone was ready to just eat and put the stress of the holidays to the side until it was Christmas.
As they sat around the rather large table, they continued the tradition that every family does during the Thanksgiving dinner, and that was listing what they were thankful for. For the group of twenty-three, however, they put a little twist on the tradition. Instead of listing the usual—friends, family, good health, etc., they had to come up with something that they appreciated in life, no matter how small.
“I’ll start!” Donghyuck loudly declared.
“Hush, you know that privilege goes to Taeil,” Taeyong scolded gently.
The eldest of the group smiled. “I’m thankful for the step stool I have in my kitchen. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to reach the olive oil that we place on the top shelf of our pantry, for some reason.”
“Or I could just get it for you,” Jungwoo supplied.
His boyfriend shot him an accusing look. “I’m pretty sure that’s the reason why it’s up there, you like seeing me struggle.”
The younger shrugged. “It is pretty funny. But I also like you pouting when you ask me to get it for you.”
“But then I got the stool,” Taeil said smugly.
“But then you got the stool,” Jungwoo grumbled in disappointment.
“My turn,” Taeyong said, who sat to the right of Taeil. He turned Youngho, who sat on his other side. “I’m thankful for my boyfriend’s incredible laugh,” Taeyong stated, grabbing the older’s hand on the table.
“I bet you’re thankful for something else of his too,” Yuta smirked, wriggling his eyebrows.
Immediately, the table broke out into chaos.
“ Right in front of my salad—”
“—didn’t need to know that—”
By the time everyone settled down, faces were red—either from embarrassment or laughing too much, it was hard to tell—and the room felt a few degrees warmer.
“Well, I’m thankful for my boyfriend’s amazing cooking,” Youngho said, glancing fondly at Taeyong. “The turkey looks amazing.”
“You all are boring,” Donghyuck complained. “This is too mushy.”
“Shush, you’ll understand the concept of love when you’re older.”
They went around the table like that, laughing at each other’s answers. The most notable ones were Mark’s:
“I’m thankful for the fact that when you mess up making an omelette, it at least can become scrambled eggs.”
“And yet, somehow, yours still aren’t edible,” Donghyuck retorted.
“I’m thankful for the fact that allergy medicine exists,” he said with his eye smile, “that way I can still pet cats.”
They were a far cry from Yuta’s:
“I’m thankful I’m not a virgin, that way I can’t be used in sacrifices.”
“I’m thankful that my grandparents are too old to understand the meaning behind the eggplant emoji, I accidentally sent it to them rather than Guanheng.”
“Why would you send it to your grandparents!?” Taeyong screeched.
“‘Grandma’ and ‘Guanheng’ are close to each other under my contact list!” Ten defended.
“Why did you send it to Guanheng?” Kun cried. “You’re tainting his innocence!”
“Is it a crime to let my boyfriend know that I want some action?” Ten fired back. “Besides, I hate to tell you, but Guanheng isn’t as innocent as you like to think he is”.
The man in question buried his head in his hands, ignoring Yangyang and Yukhei’s teasing and Kun’s fake gasp of shock.
“I’m just thankful for whoever decided to make bread,” Jaehyun decided, reaching for another roll. “It truly is God’s gift.”
“And I’m thankful for treadmills,” Dejun replied. “For when we have to work off all the food we ate during the holidays.”
When it was Doyoung’s turn, he just snorted, “I’m thankful that the Thanksgiving preparations are over. After this, you all can go home.”
“But you love us,” Yuta sang.
“You’re a pain in the ass.”
“You even lit candles for the dinner table,” the Japanese male pointed out, gesturing to the little candle holders that flickered with flame. “You never do that.”
“First of all, I’m about to sacrifice you. Second of all, they’re fake.”
Yuta was silent before he leaned over and peered into the candleholder.
“Oh,” he said, sulking.
“Did you expect me to use real candles?” Doyoung asked incredulously. “Really? Around this group? That would be a fire hazard, a disaster waiting to happen.”
“Yeah, don’t forget that one time when Sungchan was handing Jisung the stack of napkins but didn’t grab it properly and one fell onto a candle and caught on fire,” Yukhei said.
“Or when Donghuck and Kun were cooking something and it caught on fire,” Yuta chimed in. “And that happened right after I had just said that they were good cooks.”
“So anyway,” Doyoung said pointedly, “this is why we can’t have nice things such as real candles.”
There were mutters of agreement. Finally, it was Jisung’s turn and the youngest thought for awhile about what he was going to say. Finally, he just shrugged.
“I’m thankful that we were able to find a big enough table to fit all twenty-three of us,” he said. “And that we are all able to get time away from work and life in general in order to be here.”
There was silence before Yangyang yelled, “Too mushy! Start over!”
“My child’s growing up,” Taeyong said with fake tears. “He’s learning the importance of family.”
“Fine,” Jisung huffed, a little red in the cheeks from embarrassment at having been called out for saying such a sappy thing. “Then I’m thankful that the turkey isn’t dry like it was last year.” He shot an accusing look towards the older members.
“Don’t look at me,” Taeyong protested. “I wasn’t in charge of the turkey.”
“I only bought it,” Doyoung said. “I had no part of cooking it.”
Since there were really only three people trusted in the kitchen around food, and two of them denied it, that only left one other person.
Kun ducked his head, cheeks a light shade of red from embarrassment. “Sorry guys.”
“That’s okay Kunnie,” Chenle said immediately. “It wasn’t too dry.”
“Yeah, it definitely could’ve been worse,” Yangyang rushed to assure him.
There were amused smiles going around the table, unbeknownst to the three.
“What do you mean it ‘could’ve been worse’?The turkey was as dry as Kun’s jokes,” Sicheng snorted.
“Alright, let’s eat,” Taeyong said hastily, trying to avoid an argument. For as much grief Chenle and Yangyang gave Kun, he really was their favorite person.
The food platters were passed around the table and everyone waited until the last person was served. After that, it got loud with twenty-one young adults talking and laughing while eating—sometimes all three at the same time. But as Doyoung looked around at the people he considered family—and with his stress levels reduced significantly compared to earlier that day—he was able to confidently say that in their heads, everyone agreed with Jisung, no matter how much they teased him for being sappy.
“Hey, guys,” Yuta said with his mouth half full. “I’m thinking that for Christmas, we all go up to the mountains and play in the snow. Maybe ski and snowboard for a bit.”
Oh boy, just thinking about all twenty-three of them let loose in the wilderness made Doyoung’s heart rate increase. What was that about Jisung’s reason to be thankful again? Must’ve slipped his mind.