we are beginning to gear up for thanksgiving here. looking through cookbooks, trying out recipes...
I have to say that I have always loved thanksgiving for the pure, unadulterated feasting. my family has never celebrated anything beyond the feasting ritual in a sincere way, not with any weird perpetuating of the pilgrim myth, and not with one of those "everyone go around and share what you're thankful for" games either. we just cook a lot of food, get a lot of folks together and eat it.
now that I have children I am making an effort to include an awareness of the injustice inherent in this american holiday, but I'm also into claiming it as day of thankfulness and feasting for the sake of gratitude and the joy of the feast.
the earliest thanksgiving I can recall as a clear, defined memory is the year that my parents hosted the whole freaking family at our single-wide trailer. I was possibly 4,5, maybe even 6. many, many tables were put together out in the yard - I wonder where they came from? they were square and rectangular, creating a long banquet table; our kitchen table was round, yellow formica...
we served a number of chickens as well as turkey, duck, and maybe even a goose. I got the job if washing out all of the chickens. I was grateful that I didn't have to pluck them. at least 5 aunts and uncles were there, maybe more, and grandparents. I didn't have many cousins yet. the day is hazy, but I still have the mental picture of those tables all put together in our front yard, and of many, many pies.
another memory from thanksgivings of long, long ago is a year that we popped in and out of a number of feasts around the town where my parents grew up. I remember the pumpkin pie made by my teenaged second cousin that I forced myself to politely swallow with no complaints - she had forgotten the sugar. later, we went over to aunt sug's house and she made me some instant potatoes because mashed potatoes were my favorite dish and she had just run out.
when I was older, it was less about the extended family and more about our own traditions. one year we had an elaborate french feast including pastry enclosed fish mousse. giant zuchini boats filled with mashed potatoes became a holiday staple. we continued to make pies, many pumpkin and always at least one mincmeat. if we had a turkey, it was always accompanied by oyster dressing and plenty of gravy.
my first thanksgiving in atlanta I couldn't afford to go home to florida for the holiday, and I was suffering from a post-operative infection at the site of my former wisdom teeth. I was in a lot of pain, homesick and flat broke. with just two of us in the house all weekend, my housemate prepared a traditional meal with turkey and dressing, and I sat around watching "it's a wonderful life," unable to eat a thing.
two years later, I established a thanksgiving tradition of my own when I learned how to make egg nog. alone again with my housemate, we drank heavily and went to the dollar theater.
this year, I am having my parents over. I have gone to the whole foods and ordered a small turkey. I am keeping an eye out for giant zuchini and I plan to attempt a soy nog.