Terry and Mickey Devaney had the first Thanksgiving dinner of their marriage in 1952, at 9:30 in the morning.
Mickey remembered many large, traditional Thanksgiving feasts from her childhood -- the kind that took all day to prepare -- and she wanted to make the same kink of dinner for her husband.
"I bought this turkey for Terry and I figured I had to get up at six and put it on. It was ready by 9:30," she said.
Terry still laughs at hearing the story again.
"She said, 'Get up, get up, dinner's ready,'" he said. "Nothing like sitting around in your bathrobe eating Thanksgiving dinner."
As the Devaney family has grown, so has the warmth of their Thanksgiving traditions, nurtured through nearly three decades in Prince Georges County. Gathered around the big table today will be 19 members of the Devaney family extended, including one fiance, one "favorite boyfriend," a gril friend, two uncles, assorted cousins and in-laws and, of course, Grandma and Grandpa Devaney.
That first holiday bird weighed only seven pounds, but this year it will take a 23-pounder to satisfy the family.
Back in the days of their early Thanksgivings, they lived in Mount Ranier. In 1962 the Devaneys moved to a green, Cape Cod style house in the then new Kenilworth section of Bowie and proceeded to fill it with six children and a dog named Tobey.
Along with the handcrafted turkeys the girls make to decorate the table and the place cards the children insisit that all the guests observe and obey, the Thanksgiving rituals now include a basketball game against the Macfarlans, their neighbors across the street. For the last seven years or so the Devaneys and the Macfarlans have used the game -- a kind of family free-for-all including mothers and fathers, boys and girls -- to build up an appetite.
By the Devaneys' unofficial count the Macfarlans are ahead by four Thanksgiving games to three. But the Devaneys are looking to tie the series this year.
The Devaneys won a practice game against their neighbors last Sunday, on the court of Kenilworth Elementary school. Only a small fence separates the school's athletic fields, overlooking the gentle slopes of almost identical single-family housed, from the Devaney back yard.
"There are no ground rules here," said 18-year-old Colleen Devaney, getting loose for some six-on-six in the damp and chilly pre-Thanksgiving air. "We just play until we're ahead, then we quit," she laughed.
Her boyfriend, Brad Nicholson, a fresh-faced, 230-pound former lineman for Bowie Senior High School's football team, will play on the family's side in the game. After he eats at his parents' home, he will join the Devaneys for a second feast.
"We haven't had any leftovers since Brad has been coming over," said Colleen.
Colleen hits a neat 10-footer off a pass from dad Terry.
"We're whomping you!" shouts Terry, with heavily frosted breath. He played on some winning teams at De Matha High School in the late 1940s but has lost a few steps to his abdomen since then.
"Mr. Devaney is the center for both teams, he just stands there," said Mary Ann Macfarlan, 21, a student at the University of Maryland and a forward for her family. She said the practice game meant nothing because her father Neil and her sister Debbie, a deadly shooter who teaches school in Florida, were not there. They will fly in from Caracas and Miami, respecitively, by today, however.
After practice Dorothy and Peter Devaney Jr., "Nanny and Poppy" to the Devaney children, recalled some of the halcyon days of Thanksgivings past, such as in 1971, when a record 23 persons filled tables set end to end in the paneled Devaney den and consumed 16 pies for dessert.
As Annny lugged the pies up the front steps, some cousins were visiting from New York that year were incredulous.
"They didn't believe that we could eat 16 pies," Grandmother Devaney said. "And there wasn't one piece left when we went home," she added.
That year they set a tape recorder on the table to record Thanksgiving for Uncle Dennis Devaney, Terry's younger brother who was then stationed in Germany. Uncle Dennis, his wife Christine and their two young daughters will visit this year, but the oldest Devaney son, Kevin, a senior at the University of New Hampshire, will be away for the first time they can remember.
Mickey and Terry took a turkey up to New Hampshire a few weeks ago and cooked a substitute Thanksgiving meal for their son and his wife.
It is the sense of family that makes this a traditional Thanksgiving for Mickey Devaney, who is an assistant with the Prince George's county public information office and president of the county Board of Election Supervisors.
"I think it's being all together with lots of time to spend. It's all the generations together. The kids really have a good visit with their grandparents," she said.
First they will say grace over the food. "Not a long grace," said Mickey, "but a personal one."
They will welcome daughter Denise's fiance, John Hazzard, into the family, annoint Brad as "favorite boyfriend" and wish that Kevin could be with them.
The feast will begin with appetizers of pears packed with cream cheese and pecans, stuffed celery stalks, "and always black olives for Thanksgiving," said Colleen. Then they will pass the traditional poultry with sage dressing, 10 pounds of white potatoes, a dozen candied sweet potatoes, five quarts of gravy, hot rolls and all the trimmings that make mouths water a week in advance.
The plates will move in the prescribed manner, with Dad Terry getting his helpings first. Each dish will go around the long tables just once and then be placed on side tables to make room for eating.
"It goes one way," said Colleen with authority. "If you don't get it when it comes by -- too bad."
Sister Denise took a ribbing for not helping much with the cooking over the years.
"I feel sorry for John (her fiance) because Denise doesn't do anything," joked Mickey. But Denise reminded her that she's always on hand to help with the dishes when the meal is over.
"I will never cook Thanksgiving dinner," said Denise. "I will just always be here."