Turkey, Stuffing And All That: Why Eat Normal?

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine,...

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s forty-eight hours until Big Bird Day. No, I’m not roasting the Sesame Street character.

I mean the big bird thawing in the fridge. At a whopping twelve pounds, he’s big for the two of us. But we like leftovers.

I’m a traditional person when it comes to holiday food. Turkey, potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, gravy, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and call it done. Of course, I have my tweaks and preferences – two kinds of cranberry (homemade compote  for me and crap-in-a-can for anyone else, and my stuffing has white, wheat and challah bread) but at the Thanksgiving table, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll recognize everything.

Of course, I know a few folks who cannot leave well enough alone. They have to throw normal to the wolves and re-invent the menu. And I don’t mean serving ham, or goose, or even chicken. Those still qualify as normal. By different, I mean people who serve meatloaf, steaks with Bearnaise sauce (the woman who did this told me she and her husband ate naked that night), chili, empanadas and ravioli. Not holiday menu classics, but dishes that have come from other places to influence the American culture. The first year on the table, they seem strange, but we soon adapt them as part of our traditions. And then there’s the once-in-a -lifetime Thanksgivukkah: Hanukkah’s first night and Thanksgiving coming on the same day. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing and latkes, oy vey!

Of course, at the “OK, let’s do it to keep the peace and humor the relatives” end of the spectrum: the vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free folks who won’t bring their own food to the party, but insist you change your recipes to suit them. Aw, you knew I was gunning for something, didn’t you? For the record, I have a relative who is a vegetarian. Lovely girl that she is, she does not expect anyone to fix something special or accommodate her. She partakes of what she can and leaves the rest. She has yet to tell a host they will rot in hell for serving meat, or lecture other guests on the horrors of the slaughterhouses, feed lots and farms.  I’ve heard the stories of holiday meals gone so far off the rails over the dietary beliefs and restrictions of a single guest, that people leave before dessert, taking their freeloading ways with them and vowing never to return.

Folks, it’s Thanksgiving. Let’s stop for a minute and actually be thankful for what we have, whether we have all we need or not. We have the freedom of hard work to obtain more. We have the liberty of being with those we like, love or can at least be civil to for the duration of a televised football game. And although the holidays sadly remind many of us of those we have lost, their spirits will still sit at the dinner table on Thursday – if we make room for them.


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Filed under cooking, Current news, family, food, Holiday, thought

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