Bah! Humbug!

This week is Thanksgiving. Last week, 12 days before Thanksgiving, my favorite radio station went wall-to-wall Christmas songs. (It’s not my favorite station right now.) One of the largest florists in the Twin Cities had a lighting ceremony last Saturday, two Saturdays before Thanksgiving. And on Monday, the little florist shop on the corner was all decked out for Christmas.

What happened to Thanksgiving? The only place that has had a blitz on for Thanksgiving is the Food Channel. The secret ingredient on The Iron Chef was turkey. Paula Dean told us about tur-duck-en. And Alton Brown told us about the thermodynamics of frying a perfect turkey. Where have all the cute little Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers and turkey-shaped platters gone?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. First of all, it is one of the few non-sectarian holidays. It is a family holiday. We all know that more people travel during this long weekend than any other time during the year. It is the time of year when the first big snows can fall. Some of us even pray to the snow gods that we will be stranded at Grandma’s house for an extra day or two. Where I grew up it was the time of fog. I can remember leaving home one day after school was out. Dad was driving and every once in a while he would stop the car and stand on the hood of the car to look over the layer of fog that lay close to the ground but was only about ten feet deep to get his bearings.

 

Thanksgiving is also the time of year that family recipes are handed down. Grandma always made the pies. No one else in the family could make one as good. She always followed the recipe on the back of that famous can of pumpkin. But it was her crust that was famous. The family would trust my mother with the stuffing. Mom was also good at the chocolate chip cookies. This was the time of year the first batch was made. And my aunt did a wicked mashed potato. She was also the one who made the mincemeat. And then it was my uncle who would carve the bird. Over the years I have added a few of my own twists. This is the time of year I make that strange pie recipe I found that includes apples, cranberry sauce and walnuts.

This is the holiday I have the best memories. One Thanksgiving Grandma forgot to turn on the oven to bake the turkey. We had set the table. My cousin and I were constantly being shooed away from the relish platter. I think Grandma actually got extra olives because we would stick them on our finger tips and eat them off. By the time we got to dinner, she would dump the second can of olives onto the platter as we had decimated that one delicacy. Just about this time Grandma went in to check the turkey…it was still stone cold. Dinner was a few hours late that year.

Then there was the year we had two dinners. My mother cooked two separate complete turkey dinners that year. We took the turkey and all the fixings down to my paternal grandfather’s house. She even went to the trouble to make him a pumpkin pie with liquid sugar substitute because he was a fragile diabetic. (That would be so much easier today with the substitutes now available.) We had dinner early in the afternoon. While we were at my grandfather’s house, another turkey was back home cooking in the oven. We had more stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with little marshmallows, and gravy. That was the year I never wanted to see turkey again for a very long time.

 

Thanksgiving is the day for family activity. Wake up early and watch the Macy’s Parade. On the West Coast we had to get up early because of the time difference. Then, while dinner was cooking, my uncle and father would watch the first football game. There would be the never-ending card game that started Wednesday night and didn’t end until Sunday afternoon. Dinner was always a little early on Thanksgiving…we had to have time for leftovers later that night. There were walks on the beach. If the weather was good, we even went swimming on Thanksgiving day.

So, let’s not forget Thanksgiving in the rush to get from Halloween to Christmas. Let’s take that few days and relax with family and friends on that special Thursday in November.

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