…for us Americans.
This is not going to be an “I’m so thankful for” post. It’s going to be a memory post. Because that’s about all I have left of Thanksgiving at the moment.
Alice Walker wrote an excellent essay about Thanksgiving and how is shouldn’t be about eating a turkey. I remember the first T-Day that I no longer ate turkey. Although I have always been a vegetarian, I was a poultry vegetarian. This meant that I had never eaten red meat, but had eaten chicken and turkey and even the occassional fish. But that’s beside the point. This isn’t an “I’m a true vegetarian now” post either.
During my younger years, I clearly remember standing at the kitchen table with my mom. I had a huge yellowish-orange tupperware bowl in front of me and I was tearing apart the ends of several loaves of bread that had been kept in the freezer for such an occasion. I was stretching my head so that I could see the television. We lived in the country and didn’t have satelite or cable. I think we only had about two channels and that’s when the generator was on and the electricity was actually running. But on Thanksgiving morning, every year, we would gather as a family to watch the T-Day parade in Detroit on the T.V. Then my mom and I would head to the kitchen to get dinner ready for the rest of my extended family to feast on.
Inbetween breaking bread, mixing pie fillings, and rolling out the crust, I would try to catch a glimpse of the yearly holiday T.V. specials. It was usually “Grease”. Sometimes it was “The Wizard of Oz”, but that was usually closer to Christmas. Our kitchen was huge and opened up into the living room, so it was really no bother to move my chair a little closer to the view with the T.V. rather than right at the kitchen table. And sometimes, my mom even let me take the huge yellowish-orange tupperware bowl into the living room and sit on the big floor pillow in front of the T.V.
Later, after all the cooking was finished and the table was set, the old card table would be unfolded and dusted off, transformed into “the kid table”. We’d sit in our own kid world, laughing at ourselves and each other so hard that the jello sometimes fell into our laps. We never wanted a side of cranberries, or pineapple on top of cottage cheese; that was for the grownups. No, it was serving after serving of stuffing, but still keeping enough room in our bellies for pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cheery pie, cherry cheese pie and even a bite of lemon meringue. That was the most difficult thing about Thanksgiving, choosing which pie to eat. First. Because there would always be leftovers. And anyone who has ever celebrated Thanksgiving knows that’s really what it’s all about. Leftovers.
Then I grew up. I came home for Thanksgiving in college. There wasn’t a kid’s table anymore, we were all grown up. By the time my siblings and cousins were having children, I was already on the other side of the world dipping my toes in sunshine.
My first T-Day away I was in Kyoto Japan, we ate at an Italian resturaunt.
Then I found myself in Thailand. And for the next three years we would celebrate with a yummy potluck feast at Sarah and Jay’s. Oh the fun we had, one big happy Bangkok family.
Last year Ali took me to dinner at our favorite resturaunt in Nazareth and my mom called while we were eating.
This year, I read “T’was the Night Before Thanksgiving” (Dav Pilkey) to my students who had difficulty thinking of things to be thankful for other than money and toys.
I don’t eat turkey. And I don’t think that Chris Columbus was so wonderful and that the “pilgrims and the indians” sat down to a totally peaceful dinner. But I remember what was at the heart of every Thanksgiving I can remember: family, friends and love. So, for me, that’s what it’s all about. So this year, I just have to wait to celebrate double at Christmas time, where I get everyone together for one big celebration of life.