Thanksgiving, Turkey Day, Better-Wear-My-Sweatpants Day. Whatever you call it, the fourth Thursday of November is truly the most American holiday of them all, except for Independence Day. And Christmas. And probably Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day. I’d better add Labor Day, too, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and unfortunately it has been slipping further and further under the radar in recent years. There has been a penchant for going straight from the saturnalian paganism of Halloween to the candy-coated consumerism of Christmas. I don’t like that.
Not too long ago I would help my mom decorate the house for Thanksgiving. We would randomly place acorns around the house and buy inedible variants of squash to adorn all surfaces. The good thing about the squash was that you could get away with only buying them once a decade since they really didn’t go bad. I don’t think they were ever good. The pumpkins that had not been vivisected into jack-o-lanterns would become turkeys and the mouse pilgrim salt and pepper shakers would make their yearly cameo.
I also love talking about Thanksgiving. I want to know the size of your bird, how you’re going to cook it, how many people you’re having over or if you’re going to someone’s house. I want to know about different families’ traditions. Is there a family football game like there is in my family? Do you eat for eight hours straight before sitting down to the biggest feast of the year like we do in my family? Do you eat the stuffing that was in the bird? Stove Top or homemade? Dark meat? Light meat? A little bit of both? Yea, I thought so.
When I was a child Thanksgiving meant eating the best meal of the year. In college, coming home for Thanksgiving meant the annual high school reunion. Now I’m all grown up, married and living overseas. I am the only American in the house and this is my first Thanksgiving abroad, so this year it means something completely different.
It means going all over town looking for stuffing. It means explaining to the Dutch why 23 pounds of turkey (yes, pounds, no, we do not use kilos, thank you very much) is not too much food for 12 people, the side dishes notwithstanding (turkey sandos for a week, duh!). It means looking up how to say cranberry sauce in Dutch and then not finding it.
But it also means remembering who you are and where you come from. This year it means looking back on some twenty-odd Thanksgivings as a blueprint for the next sixty. Our traditions, as non-traditional as they may be, are being forged right now; and that’s kinda cool to me.
So this year, especially in times like these, remember and be grateful for the things you do have before Christmas tells you what you don’t have.
Have any Thanksgiving moments you’d like to share?
[photo courtesy of kaboodle.com]