A favorite tradition in my family is the Thanksgiving Pie Contest. Two divisions, East and West.  Up until this year, the Western title has, for the most part, been a given. Wendy or one of her sisters wins Best Overall. The award, written by my father, announces that “this pie was foreordained to reign supreme” or that  it was “one of the causes of the war in heaven.”

But the East Coast division is less certain, so for the past little while there has been a lot of talk. Trash talk. Strategy talk.

Last year, since Levi and I weren’t shy or cautious on the trash talk side, we knew we had to be particularly cunning in terms of strategy. “We need to think about our audience,” he said. “It’s got to be something standard, predictable, not too flashy.”  I punched him for this. (It was a direct hit at my family. So we were all humanities majors, we vote Republican, we tend to buy Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords.  That doesn’t make us standard, predictable…dull.)

We debated with fervor what we would submit, and after seven Martha Stewart Thanksgiving issues, two community brainstorming sessions, a lot of prayer and one priesthood blessing, we finally made our choice: Cranberry-Pear with an apricot glaze. We’d call it “Cranberry-Pear.”

A couple of things happened. I got lazy on the lattice top.  We scrapped the apricot glaze. We accidentally doubled the cranberries, forgot a key ingredient, burned the crust.

As everyone milled about, tasting each pie and silently voting, Levi caught my eye, pretended to slit his throat, and swallowed hard. He had tasted our pie. And it was bad. Really, really bad.  His eyes seemed to say, “Pretend we’ve been kidding the whole time.” Like I said, too many cranberries.

Had my father been there, he would have no doubt given us the dreaded piety award. “This pious pie won by a pray—many prayers, in fact. . . .this pie is noted for its contribution to the spiritual development of all who eat its contents.” Ouch.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that I was a double loser since Levi got the last laugh when the winner was the most traditional, most standard, most predictable Thanksgiving pie you can think of.


So we like our meat cooked medium and wear our Sunday clothes all day. Big deal.