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Yesterday's slice, discounted.

"You know," she continued. "That one thing that your family always has for Thanksgiving. That whenever you don't have it, the whole thing just feels wrong." She went back to eating her burrito bowl and I sat quietly for a moment.

"No." I said. "We don't have anything like that."

We always made the pumpkin pie together. It was just a tradition that started before I was aware of traditions. It was just an absolute of the holidays. It was never Thanksgiving without us getting together one evening and making a pumpkin pie. As a child, I used to love doing it. I felt so grown up. This was something my dad was doing. There were so many things to do, so many ways to help.

Cutting open the pumpkin. Pulling out all the innards. Separating the seeds for later. Cutting the pumpkin. Steaming it. Mashing it. Mixing it.

As I grew older, I learned to hate doing it. My time was too valuable to waste making a pumpkin pie. If it was something my dad wanted to do as a yearly routine, fine. I had no interest slaving over a pie. There were just so many things to do.

Cutting open the pumpkin. Pulling out all the innards. Separating the seeds for later. Cutting the pumpkin. Steaming it. Mashing it. Mixing it.

And then, as I grew even older, I learned to appreciate it. Not routine, tradition. It was comforting. Relaxing. Meditative, even. I could see why my dad enjoyed doing it so much. And, finally, why he wanted to do it together. There were so many things to do.

Cutting open the pumpkin. Pulling out all the innards. Separating the seeds for later. Cutting the pumpkin. Steaming it. Mashing it. Mixing it.

And then, one year, he wasn't there. And I stood, alone, in the kitchen.

Cutting open the pumpkin. Pulling out all the innards. Separating the seeds for later. Cutting the pumpkin. Steaming it. Mashing it. Mixing it.

It didn't come out the way it used to. It was too sweet. Something had gone wrong in my mix. It wasn't the same. Nobody said anything about it at dinner. They smiled and complimented me on making such a wonderful pie. I smiled politely back at them.

And the next year, when he came back, we didn't make pie.

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