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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Varieties of Thanksgivings

category_bug_journal2.gif It really is the nicest of our holidays, isn't it. It is quiet as opposed to noisy (Independence Day). There are no gifts to obsess over (Christmas) unless bringing dessert counts. And you don't have to stand outside freezing your butt off waiting for THE moment (New Year).

Family and food are the centerpieces of Thanksgiving and I have always liked the preparation. Some years, living far from relatives, I held the dinner at my place for other lost or stranded souls. We always had a good time. From the late 1980s until about five years ago when I left New York, I always spent Thanksgiving with friends in rural Pennsylvania – a huge family – most years there were 30 or more people for dinner covering four generations.

This year, as last, my brother and his wife are coming to dinner for the second Thanksgiving in a row. After a lifetime living on separate coasts, we are creating some new family rituals.

President Barack Obama will not be the only person pardoning a turkey. I've settled on a leg of lamb this time and readying the dinner has been underway for several days.

On Monday, I took my knives to Carl, the man who sharpens them at Wizer's market two or three times a year and I hard boiled the eggs for the chopped chicken liver I'll make on Wednesday.

Today, I'll do the last-minute shopping including fresh crab (the season is just beginning here) for a dip, fresh mint for the sauce and fresh rosemary for the lamb.

Tomorrow it gets busier. First, I'll prepare the marinade and set the lamb in it for 24 hours. Then there are the crab dip and the chopped liver to make so the flavors have a day to blend. I can also cook the pureed, minted peas so I need only to heat them on Thursday – they, too, will benefit from a night in the fridge.

I'll go through my checklist to see that I really do have the Brussels sprouts, potatoes, carrots, wine and anything else I want to go with the lamb. Then I'll shop for what's missing and write out a cooking/preparation schedule for Thursday.

Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, I will polish the silver, choose the necessary serving dishes and set the table. That part always pleases me.

There isn't much to do on Thanksgiving Day except follow the prep schedule so everything is ready at about the same time. Plus – watch the Macy's parade on television although now that I'm on the west coast that happens earlier in the morning than it does for east coast people.

Many years ago, in the 1970s, I was assigned by the TV show I worked for to produce some live interviews at the parade starting point near the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West. I recall that the morning was cold, rainy and miserable and that the most famous celebrity I could find was Big Bird.

And yes, I actually carried on a conversation with him – or is it her? I've definitely moved up in the world since then.

Tell us about your Thanksgiving – now or in the past.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Alone at Last!


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

As you do, I also favor Thanksgiving over all the other holidays for the reasons you've mentioned. I've been thinking lately about how in this country we've managed to forego so many holiday traditions in lieu of the almighty $$ & for some reason it really saddens me.

So nice that you are with family again this year. Have a great time with them. :)Dee

Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday done right. Why anyone wants to go along with making it all about Black Friday is beyond me--if anything begs for passive occupation, it's BF.
For me, all the holidays are somewhat bittersweet because my family is never all together. I hold no traditions sacred, but sometimes I kind of wish that I did.

I am not a fan of food holidays because I have IBS and allergies. As a way around this, I like to eat out. If I eat very simply, I have fun.

My mother was a great Architectural Engineer, but she wasn't a very good cook. Her turkeys were always dry tho there were somethings she was good with....gravy. My father's mother hated to cook, but she sure could make some good food. No matter who cooked, I always fell ill after the meal.

Christmas Eve was wonderful. Mother served scrambled eggs, and my body liked scrambled eggs. That made the evening a much happier affair.

Since my sister and her family have moved back to the DC area (since the mid-90s), I've traditionally gone over to her house. I found a great recipe for creamed onions one year and now they are family-wide known as "Christine's creamed onions". After dinner we usually go for a leisurely walk then back home for dessert and a movie.

Before my sisters, from the early '80s to mid-'90s, I too, had Thanksgiving with friends. Loved those years, too as everyone would bring food that meant "home" to them.

Many people claim that this is their favorite holiday for many of the reasons you mention.

It's just another day here in Sweden, of course. I prepared a traditional Thanksgiving meal ONCE in my 22+ years here and it was appreciated by those who ATE it, but I vowed to never do it again. What a lot of WORK!!! I DO love eating that meal, though. Could there BE anything better than turkey stuffing?!?!? I think not! :)

Possumlady...
Isn't that one of the terrific Thanksgiving things: "Christine's onions."

At various feasts through the years (not always Thanksgiving), I recall Don's oyster dressing, Jerry's gravy,
Baba's creamed corn, Ronni's chopped liver, Mamie's mushroom sauce, etc. etc.

Nice traditions.

Spending our first Thansgiving in our new home here in New Mexico! Moved to Del Web community here in Bernalillo, so, there are new friends and neighbors to celebrate with there is a community pot luck, so that will make for a differnt kind of Thanksgiving ,Taking roasted veggies and some famous NM cookies, Biscochitos. Thankful to be here, in the sunshine, and surrounded by new and supportive people,as I arrived with a rather unexpected cancer diagnosis, so, I am very grateful to be here, to be going to the UNM cancer center and for all the thoughts and prayers sent my way!I am very thankful this Thansgiving,hoping you all have a wondeerful holiday, and much to be thankful for as well.

If all goes as is currently planned, it will be in Medford with our children and grandchildren. It'll be noisy, boisterous with good conversation about politics, probably some football on TV if there is any on that day which I seem to remember there usually is, and lots of good food.

As a 49er fan, I can tell you, Rain, there will be football in the evening as San Francisco will confront the Baltimore Ravens.

We'll be back east with family if we live through overnight flying. Happy holiday everyone. I look forward to resting on Friday, a far better use of a holiday than shopping, I think.

I'm solo for the first T'giving in forever. Hubby's with his family and I'm hanging out at our Winter home in So. Texas. I'm bringing the veggie dish for our table's RV Park dinner -- a corn, zuchini,onion,bacon succotash.

Whenever T'giving approaches, I flash on my most memorable one-- food for a long story. Short version: Antalya Marina, Turkey, 1996. Turkeys (hindi) cooked by Turks their way: boil in large vat, brown in hot brick oven (= road kill appearance). Trimmings by American and Canadian cruisers. Cranberry sauce from US vessel whose Capt. was invited. Guests: cruisers from all over the world, US Capt.'s Turkish counterpart, and marina staff, close to 100 folks in all. M.C. for the afternoon, Fabyan Saxe from the sailing vessel HEATHER out of Newport RI, who gave a wonderful welcome and rundown on this American tradition. (We just lost him in Oct.) It was a warm, wonderful sharing time and I'll never forget it.

My husband, our 2 cats and I will spend an uneventful day, which is fine with us--maybe some of his adult kids will call, maybe not. We're good either way. I'm a terrible cook, but his father was a master chef who prepared meals on large ships for many years. So. . .guess who does the cooking at our house with as little interference from me as possible?! Since neither of us enjoys overstuffing ourselves any more, we'll eat some and freeze the rest. Sounds very blah to many, I'm sure, but at 82 and 75 respectively, blah isn't such a bad thing. My husband and I have always valued being together but even more so now.

They get simpler and simpler as the years go by-sometimes with part of the family, sometimes with a house-bound friend. But "back in the day", when I was part of an intact family and for 2 years on my own afterwards, we hosted a huge potluck gathering of folk music performer/friends at a public space for two days and two nights. I exhausts me just to think of it, but wouldn't trade the memories for anything. Friends took over on a slightly smaller scale for a few more years, then we all got too old and tired and the next generation took over.

When I was a child we had the real Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving with the turkey being carved at the table and many relatives and friends watching the artistry of the carving. There were so many of us that we had a separate children's table.

After I was married and a mother myself we continued the tradition at my Mom's house. My mother was a fabulous cook so all I did was bring our traditional salad (lime jello mold with pineapple, celery, walnuts and ginger-ale and served with a cheese dressing).

This continued until we moved away from Colorado Springs when I made the exact same dinner, continuing the tradition. It was always turkey, cranberry sauce, candied yams, dressing mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable and several kinds of pies for desert.

After my husband's death and my daughter's marriage that tradition was scrapped for a new one. We had dinner with my son-in-law's parents and it was always a buffet style dinner and there were at least 20 people every year. I brought my lime jello salad the first year and no one liked it except my daughter and me.

Now, with no family here, I will probably have a Lean Cuisine and watch Macy's parade. A leisurely day to relax. (Is there any other kind for me now? :-). )

So I have gone from large
Thanksgiving dinners to eating alone. I am thankful that I can still eat and enjoy life.

Moved up from Big Bird? Only if it was Miss Piggy.

For the last 9 years we have hosted what we call "Thanksgiving Rehearsal," the Sunday prior to the actual day. It is a lovely afternoon of food and music (performed by all the friends who play and sing) and brings together about 50-75 people who will start scattering about now, and remain that way until the new year.

It was lots of fun this year, and we will be eating leftovers and doing nothing on Thursday!

(My first comment here, and I'd like to send THANKS to you for Time Goes By!)

I place T'giving in the second tier of holidays -- but don't pay me no mind. Eat well and enjoy your family!

My Thanksgivings have changed drastically over the years. When I was married, we (my husband, two kids, and I) had the traditional turkey and fixings. When I got divorced, the kids went to his house and I drove the 150 miles to my mom and dad's, and she did the cooking (because that's how she wanted it). When I moved my elder mom in with me, I did the cooking and invited friends of mine to share it all. Now, I live with my daughter and family. She does the turkey and dressing, I do the pies, and her in-law family come with the side dishes. As a matter of fact, she cooked the turkey today and then cut it up and packed it in the frig covered in its juices and some broth. She used Alton Brown's recipe from the Food Network, and the juicy, tasty meat just fell off the bones. I'll make the requested sugar-free apple pie (using Xylitol) and the also requested dairy-free chocolate cream pie. We don't have many food traditions, but turkey on Thanksgiving is one of them. (The other is pierogi on Christmas Eve.) Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Green Bay Packers play.
I hope I can put together a reasonable meal while my 3 guests watch. I don't usually cook, so it will be ham, baked potatoes, cranberries. Guests will bring salad and vegetables. I need to clean house, but after working, I don't have the energy.

As I once wrote at the Elder Storytelling Place, my personal favorite holiday is Halloween. But I do enjoy Thanksgiving, which for me, has always centered on the "3 Fs": family, feast and football. This year, the family part will consist of my daughter, who's coming from DC for a week. The feast will be the dinner she is planning to cook for us, but since she's a vegetarian I'm expecting the offerings will be somewhat different from the traditional. So this year football is the one constant in the whole equation.

Christine's onions...Don's oyster dressing...Jerry's gravy....sounds fantastic. But I suggest that should we TGB readers ever get together for an elderfeast, we start with a round of Deejay's Manhattans as our preprandial cocktails. (See above link.)

I am here with family - in the holding period prior to Thanksgiving. My son-in-law is Charlie - truly bigger than life kinda guy who is also a chef. Tonight he "whipped" together a root vegetable puree with dusting of parmesan chease. Finally, he will will top the puree with flash fried leeks. . .While providng mother-in-law supervision I also get to listen to the most outrageous political opinions - he is very right wing. I just grit my teeth - no sence getting into it. Bet there will be many scenarios throughout the land where folks will be gritting their teeth in order to get through the festivities and still be friends.

I have enjoyed Thanksgiving in most of the ways mentioned from large gatherings in my home to small ones at home or elsewhere. They're all great, and it is my favorite holiday not the in the least because the house is clean, there is plenty of leftover food, and I have three more days before going back to work!

Thanksgiving in China is just another work day; no celebrations and not even turkeys in the markets as no one has an oven in their home; thus also no pumpkin pies, but I have my husband by my side and lots of memories of past gatherings to get me through the day.

After years and years of having very stress-filled Christmases, I finally put my foot down and told my hubby, "No more!" a few years ago. I won't go into the reasons, but because of family issues I'd come to loathe Christmas especially. Since taking THAT part out of our holiday 'celebrations' and the births of my grandsons, I am slowly but surely recapturing the beauty of the season. I blogged about it just the other day. Thanksgiving, thankfully, has been especially wonderful with the addition of our beloved daughter-in-law to our family 9 years ago. She loves to cook and entertain so I gladly passed that baton on to her when she said she'd love to do it. So...the holidays are enjoyable and very low-key. I refuse to let any more be ruined by stress in my life time. At 57 I don't know how many more I have left ahead of me and I want to embrace every one of them.

Oh! And I meant to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving before I signed off. Have a wonderful, safe day!

Miss Kris--Lighten up! 57 and you don't know how many more? You are younger than 2 of my children!
Everyone, please have a happy holiday in whatever tradition you wish to celebrate.
None of us know how long the days or how short so make them all special and
think of those alone. One of the most joyous holidays I have ever had was
celebrated with the homeless and we did celebrate!
All good wishes to you all...

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