Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!
The day devoted to cooking, eating and practicing thanks with family and friends — or even strangers — is here. My calendar has been pointing toward it for weeks, and I’m thrilled to press pause on life and celebrate.
Whether we know it or not, we all end up making Thanksgiving resolutions of some sort; they’re not just reserved for the New Year. We pledge to not be like this SNL family skit or to not travel at all, only to be persuaded into a faraway dinner.
We pledge, of course, to not eat too much, but that’s really an empty promise. We pledge to have a more sustainable Thanksgiving, which I wrote about for Smithsonian Magazine this year. And, this year, I’ve decided there’s really no reason to get stressed.
Three-quarters of the meal is already made or being brought by someone else, and the world will not end if we don’t sit down at 2 p.m. on the dot. My best friends from high school and their husbands will be here along with friends from church. My table will happily burst at the seams. And the only thing that could really ruin it is if I grump around the kitchen.
Today will not be ruined if the cranberry sauce gets forgotten in the fridge (as it did a few times at my family table growing up ;-), or if the turkey’s… no I can’t even mention that. It might be ruined if the turkey is dry, heaven forbid. (It’s my fourth time making the bird with a maple sugar-dry brine, sage butter under its skin, bacon latticed across the top and a maple syrup baste. If he decides not to cooperate after such a spa treatment, he doesn’t deserve to be eaten.) OK I got a little worked up there.
Basically, Lord help me to focus on what matters today, to savor a day with my little family, with our baby who’s about to become a toddler, our friends new and old, Skype sessions with family and traditions treasured and tweaked.
My husband will be smoking salmon on cedar planks for an appetizer today, and I’m almost certain that will become a new thing. We’ll also have the usual sweet potato casserole, a family recipe that I tweaked last year by adding cardamom when roasting the potatoes. I already made an asiago-parmesan crumble apple pie that’s a spin on a family favorite. The memories roll in as I use an old apple peeler to prep the filling. And I even plan to try my hand this morning at mimicking the harissa carrots I had at Rose’s Luxury a couple weeks ago.
I was tempted to start a new tradition this week when a friend texted me Monday to ask if I wanted to go fetch and slaughter my own turkey with her at a farm on Tuesday for the Big Meal. Part of me still regrets that I had too many deadlines to pull away from — next year! But the other part of me wonders if I could have handled it. Yet, it’s a reminder that much of what we are thankful for comes at someone’s sacrifice. No, I’m not going to elevate your Turkey Day bird too much here, but I am going to encourage you to hug the cook, hug the one who pays the bills — and hug your parents.
Also, consider those who, instead of suffering from the bellyaches of overeating today, will continue to go hungry. Many of you volunteer at food banks, like our wonderful Capital Area Food Bank, this time of year. There are local opportunities to #FilltheBowl and global opportunities to #SharetheMeal. The latter is as easy as downloading an app and donating 50 cents. Watch this video and consider starting your meal by sharing it with a hungry child.
Here’s to you and yours, a wonderful holiday filled especially with Thanksgiving.