Happy Thanksgiving! This is from the old blog way back in 2010
Despite my yammerings about how I’m not a holiday person I do like Thanksgiving. I’m not sure why but the concept of a “Harvest Meal” delights me. Of course Thanksgiving in the US isn’t technically set for harvest time like the Canadians. I’ve been to Canada for Thanksgiving and it was wonderful, truly an autumnal celebration: snow hadn’t started flying so there were some flowers left in our friend’s garden and late fruit, too. The meal was a traditional North American turkey feast with the regional tweaks to the stuffing (or “dressing” as I was taught to call it as a child).
I’m not a huge fan of turkey and think it’s a huge pain in the neck to create the whole traditional meal. For a few years I would fix equally complex meals: one year it was quail in a special cranberry sauce, another year it was Mexican fiesta food and another year it was French with a perfect champagne reduction. Just think what I would do in the kitchen if I actually like to cook. The two times I did make a traditional meal it was utter misery. The food was good but it was just such a ridiculous chore to fix the turkey and dressing. Especially given I don’t like turkey all that much.
I don‘t really care about the food at Thanksgiving, it really is about the people. I’ve been to family Thanksgivings, orphan thanksgivings, Thanksgiving with my co-workers and I‘ve a Thanksgiving alone. When we lived in Albuquerque I would always just pick at Mom’s food and then race across the street for OF’s family meal. I can’t remember if Jo fixed anything truly exotic for Thanksgiving but I do remember having lovely little creamed onions which seemed terribly sophisticated at the time. What I thought was an incredibly complex recipe was dead simple and years later when I called Jo for her recipe; she was amused I thought they were exotic. I think the year I first had the lovely little onions in butter and cream was the year my sister’s boyfriend from Texas hitchhiked to see her.
I was gob smacked even as a little girl by the huge romantic gesture. He hitched rides from College Station Texas (yes, an Aggie, we’ll forgive him for this) to Albuquerque in 1970. He had hair to the middle of his back and to get rides he tucked it into a cap. Otherwise who was going to pick up that long-haired hippy fella, right? We had only left Texas a few months before and his leaving for college coincided with our move. Barring my ex-brother-in-law he was my favorite of all her many boyfriends because he was always nice to me even though I was a terrible snoopy tag-a-long. His romantic gesture went a long way with me and Thanksgiving felt really special and unique that year. It’s not every girl that can brag her sister’s hippy college aged boyfriend hitchhiked across the southwest to see her!
When I was five or six I had either the measles or chicken pox for Thanksgiving. I remember getting to come to the big table in my pj’s and sitting next to my silly Aunt Jean who joked me out of feeling sorry for myself. My cousins and Sister, who usually teased me just because I was the youngest, were especially nice to me. No doubt on the threat of death because I would have been a howling crying mess if they had made fun of me. My guess is Mom was pretty much done with Uber Sensitive Child home from school and sick that week. Looking back on the type of kid I was I‘m amazed she wasn’t a drinker.
I’m thankful I can’t think of a single Thanksgiving that wasn’t stressful or angst ridden due to family issues. The holiday I remember spending alone was by choice because I was on call for work and it was just simpler to hang out at home on my own than try to make plans. The worst Thanksgiving wasn’t even bad it was actually pretty hilarious. I was going to fix the meal, a traditional meal with all the trimmings because Dad completely BALKED at the idea I would do otherwise, and if I did otherwise, well they weren’t coming! Hrumphfff! I wanted my parents to visit and see their grandsons so I acquiesced and I was going to DO IT ALL MYSELF THANK YOU SO GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN.
What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and housewives? Did you know it’s almost impossible to fix Thanksgiving feast covered in hives, wheezing and high on double the usual prescribed amount of Benadryl? I believe Mom took over about the time I almost burnt myself on the stove. I can remember lying on the couch and blubbering out an apology that sounded something like this: “Ima shorry thish happen mawwwmmmm. I don know whut I ate bu’ ish no good…” Needless to say, I wasn’t offered any wine at dinner that afternoon, especially after I insisted on filling the water glasses and poured exactly next to the first one, soaking the table. It was so completely opposite to the meal and the holiday I wanted with my parents that even in the moment the absurdity of it made me laugh. However, I pointedly avoid cake mix, bisquick and American Beauty pasta the Wednesday before Thanksgiving because as absurd as it was I don‘t want to spend another Thanksgiving on the couch drooling an apology.