Uh, not so much, actually
Thanksgiving– it is a holiday I anticipate for weeks. Months, even. More than Christmas I love Thanksgiving. Christmas seems to have been taken over by a frenetic desire to make everything go according to a fantasy derived from Hollywood and marketers. Christmas never lives up to one’s hopes anymore. But Thanksgiving! A day devoted exclusively to eating. Not worrying about buying gifts, just making sure the food is on the table by the time people start to revolt like the French for lack of bread.
I remember going to my grandparents for Thanksgiving. It wasn’t so much the fantasy one might imagine. I just remember driving with my family down to their house, the books we read, the van we had. Playing chess with my cousins while waiting for dinner. The nervousness of sitting at the end of the Kids’ Table, where one swift kick would wipe out the leg of the extender table, thus spilling plates and food in the laps of those on your side of the table.
And of course, the food. We’re Southern, right? So Thanksgiving dinner consists of gravy. And mashed potatoes. And green beans swimming in a broth. Sweet potato casserole topped by caramelized marshmallows. Turkey with stuffing and cranberries, naturally. And another green bean dish, this made with mushroom cream soup and french onions around the edges. My sister loved the dish so much that she used to insist we had it at every Thanksgiving. I think last year was the first we didn’t have it.
This year we held Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. She and her husband just bought a house, and as my mother sold hers theirs was the familial home. We planned to go for a run this year, as all of us have developed, independently, an interest. We met as my sister’s at 11. I wanted to eat by 3.
Unfortunately, my reputation precedes me, and my mother has lost any memory of ever having fixed a Thanksgiving before I took it over three years ago, because when I got there the turkey was still thawing and she had no idea what to do next. Even though my sister had planned the menu, and we’d even had a trial run she seemed just as indecisive as my mom. I was pushed into taking over my sister’s kitchen for her, a role I hadn’t planned. I thought I was showing up with my sides and they’d have started everything else.
Instead I had to start stuffing the turkey with apples, carrots, an onion and herbs, dousing it with oil, salt and pepper and sticking it in the oven. I was consumed by chopping and starting other various things before we went for a run at 3. We didn’t eat until 6, actually closer to 7. And then we squeezed around a small table, all eight of us, in my sister’s kitchen to eat what had become a lukewarm, but very tasty Thanksgiving.