I ate my turkey over 6 hours ago. And still fell stuffed and like puking.The head count was over 20 and food covered every available surface.And both of my parents are known for their cooking.They have both had a lot of hobbies and phases while I grew up. They learned to sail, and took country and western dancing, took classical guitar lessons and just recently they took up golfing again. But they have always been able to cook.Really really well.
I blame them for my double digit size pants and for being a food snob. My dad keeps a pad and paper by his recliner to write down recipes while he watches the food network. (I keep trying to tell him about this crazy thing called the internet, but he is old school like that). He cooks crazy fancy things that I have never heard of, follows his recipes to the letter, and spends hours destroying the kitchen. And it is almost always amazing. My mom also knows her way around the kitchen. I rarely see her use a recipe and she sticks to more classic dishes that never disappoint. They are in gourmet clubs and subscribe to food and wine magazines. They can spend hours in William and Sonoma and Sur La Tab, and they have kitchen gadgets that I don’t think they even know what to do with. There are multiple shelves of cookbooks in the living room and I’ve seen them drop more than my car payment on a meal (and I totally cleaned my plate by the way). Even as a kid I didn’t shy away from unusual foods. I know my cheeses and my olives and even ate sushi before it was cool.
So Thanksgiving is kind of a big deal around here. They start cooking days in advance. And this morning I heard the first pots and pans banging before 6 a.m. Some Thanksgivings they make a turducken ( a turkey stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck – ala John Madden) and/or a crown roast with sides and pies and a perfectly scaped table. (I think he must have a little bit of Martha Stewart in him!). And the meal is always loud and crowded and we all eat and laugh and refill our plates and glasses until our bellies ache. And then go back for more.
And we don’t have any special traditions of going around the table and saying what we are thankful for. But before we eat, the 20+ of us circle up in the living room (including Tess’s dollie) and hold hands and my dad says a long winded prayer about food and family and gratitude.
And earlier this week, I pulled up to a church just a few blocks from the school I teach at to see a line wrapped around the building. I had shown up to help pass out Thanksgiving baskets to families in need. The line of people all waiting surprised me. I hadn’t driven downtown, but only a few miles down the street. And this need and hunger in my own middle class suburb wasn’t what I was expecting. And I spent a few hours filling carts and loading cars with a simple sack of groceries and turkeys that would become these families Thanksgiving meals. A few people were embarrassed. A few barked orders about not smushing their rolls. But most said “thank you”, and “god bless you” and hugged me long and hard before I closed their trunks. Even though they didn’t even know my name.
And I have a lot to be thankful for. Like my patient husband who doesn’t yell at me when I blow my tire by hitting a curb (the day before we are supposed to drive out of town), or my kids that make me smile and laugh and encourage me to dance instead of pack or grade papers, or friends that make me almost wet my pants laughing everyday, or the ones that somehow love me anyways, and for full plates and full glasses and 4 different kinds of pie. But being thankful for what you are given. Whether it is a huge spread or a single brown bag, that is gratitude.