Monday, November 21, 2011

Not turkey day...thankful day


As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I love Thanksgiving...for years it has been one of my favorite holidays.  Ironically it is for someone who loves food like me not about the food...there is very little I actually like at Thanksgiving to eat and so not the big pig out without boundaries that most people fear.  


I like the idea of Thanksgiving from it's very beginning...could it be part truth and part myth ? Sure, history is written by the victors and in recent times re-written without any verification by the media who leans one way or another and on the internet ('cause we all know if it is on the internet then it must be true).  That is why we have a Columbus that is vilified for being exactly what he was ...a man of his era who many feel that now can be seen through our 21st century ethics instead of the visionary and incredible risk taker he was (the world she's a round..she's a flat...a round...sorry cannot forget that Bugs Bunny one).  It is why we forget the absolute perfection of the Declaration of Independence (read it if you never have and re-read it if you gave it the old high school history reading only) and focus on what it should have said and again not judge the writers by the standards of our time.  There were slave owners ...sorry Michele Bachmann but I actually like history to learn from not improvise with....they were imperfect....but they wrote an incredibly simple yet powerful document that still resonates years later...it is one of the reasons I can take pride in being an American by choice and it is the reason I still hold out hope that our country, and maybe even the world, will not fall prey to fundamentalist, fearful despots that want to diminish choices and the pursuit of happiness.  There are those who look to destroy and find fault with everything, there are those who "forget" all negative and then there are the rest of us who understand that people are imperfect, wrong and wonderful at the same time ( historical and current sadists excluded of course). 


I think the ritual of Thanksgiving was one that I would like to believe, myth or not, as the a moment when the basic human need to share a meal, to share with someone you may or may not have chosen as your neighbor or  family (because both tend to be bit hoisted upon you) the gift of good food.  If the story is right the natives helped the settlers eat foods that would actually thrive in their new country and the settlers shared with the natives their own recipes.  This simple idea that has since grown into a holiday that requires no material exchange but requires us to share that which is most sacred to us...our time off and our tables.   It requires us to prepare the turkey for the most part ...a transcendent dish among all immigrants (recent and past)  that seems to grace the tables surrounded by everything from sweet potatoes, cranberries and other "traditional" dishes to traditions in the making of curries, beans and rice, lasagnas, Greek salads, Romanian sauteed cabbage, and other dishes that are as far from the first Thanksgiving as one could have imagined.  This is the holiday where even the most jaded can barely keep it up....yes we can complain about the uncle who burps at the table and tells poor jokes, the mother or mother in law who gives "helpful" hints on how you can improve your cooking, the traffic, eating too much ...but with all of that it still does not seem to stop us from looking forward to and inviting all these characters back every year. 


I host Thanksgiving, much like every holiday, and though it is tiring especially for a full time working Mother I cannot imagine giving it up.  I like the whole fancy china, menu planning (though could use a lot less advice and feedback from my husband in the process) and cooking.  I look forward to having people over and seeing them enjoy the things I made.  The passing of tradition and importance of being with family as well as the incredible reminder to be grateful is maybe the best gift I can keep giving my children.  The idea that we should have a holiday that reminds us to look around and make sense of what we should be thankful for, of what we could be without.  I wish for all those who are less fortunate, who may not have a meal, a home, a family, friends or who will not be able to even for this day stop just to take stock to have a better year in whatever way we who are fortunate to have these things can help with.  I donate to the local food pantry, am pretty sappy and buy a roll and coffee for any homeless person I encounter on these days because like the song says "there but for the grace of god go I" all of us can make a difference. I often wonder if for the days that people spend spewing hate, planning bombs, yelling, being pitiful for many who are not in pitiful situations and those who "have it all" we could instead engage in a world wide day of sharing of a table with recipes that help us understand that in the end we do not need to be afraid of one another but rather that we should be thankful to be sharing the same planet.  I wonder if we could forget dietary laws that keep us from enjoying our lives and for one day instead focus on the dietary pleasures.  I am thankful for the people who have touched my life, even the ones that negatively did so for I have tried to grow from those experiences,  but more so for the ones that keep making positive impressions. I remember fondly those who no longer are with us to share this meal.  I look forward to the memories that this next Thanksgiving will create for my future.  Mostly I am just thankful for my life...imperfect but hopeful!!!!


Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.  ~Native American Saying

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