I spent the week taking down the ghosts and goblins and putting up the Thanksgiving pilgrim and Indian decorations (can I still say “Indian?”). Meanwhile television advertising began promoting Christmas cheer while I mentally began making my gift shopping list.
But wait, not so fast sister. Somewhere between Halloween candy and Christmas tree twinkles, Thanksgiving seems to have been momentarily misplaced. There’s more emphasis on Black Friday sales than gathering around the harvest table to offer thanks for the blessings we often take for granted.
We go about our sweet secure lives in small town America with access to ample food and clean drinking water without much thought of the daily horrors of war being waged a world away. If we’re lucky enough to have our family around us, we have the makings of a perfect Thanksgiving.
The uniquely American holiday has always been a good excuse to reunite with family members we don’t see but a couple of times a year at best. We share our lives over roast turkey, cornbread dressing and green beans swimming in mushroom soup. Sweet potato casserole topped with tiny toasted marshmallows and pumpkin and pecan pies will round out my traditional feast now that I’m committed to simplifying my life and no longer so desperate to impress.
For years I tried to blow away my family with my exceptional (and very questionable) culinary talents. I would work for weeks perfecting some doctored up, non-traditional presentation which in retrospect could be identified as awesome stupidity.
The family rolled their eyes but dutifully ate the often unidentifiable fare such as Sweet Potato Fillet Migyams (roast sweet potatoes wrapped in bacon) or Turkey Taco Bellinis (made from Burrito Supremes from Taco Bell). Oh, and remember that year I made White Trash puff balls? Nothing says Thanksgiving like prepackaged pepperoni wrapped in canned biscuit dough. Yum, yum.
This year I’m going traditional all the way and I double dog dare anyone to excuse themselves to get to the mall. Nope. Not allowed.
I was horrified to learn that some major chains are opening on Thanksgiving Day before the table is even cleared and we settle down to watch a bunch of millionaires play football on TV. The time span between Thanksgiving and Christmas is shorter than usual this year with barely four weeks between the two. I even overheard someone refer to Thanksmas the other day. That’s blasphemy in my book.
Each year it seems quality Thanksgiving time gets pinched, and I’m rebelling against this injustice because I love, love, love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, mashing potatoes, Uncle Egbert’s wildly nonpolitically correctness, and getting undressed at the end of the day to find your bathrobe won’t meet in the front anymore.
I have fond memories of the annual family gatherings through the years, although many of the main characters are no longer with us. We bring them back to life with our memories and stories which in true Southern fashion are often blown out of proportion.
Thanksgiving is a time when the world gets to see just how blessed we are. The emphasis is not on giving or buying, but on being thankful and expressing that appreciation in a million different ways. But mostly by being present and giving our guests our undivided attention.
I fear the identity of one of our most cherished holidays is at risk of extinction. How sad, and I for one, am not going to let it happen. I will stop and give thanks that my family is safe and healthy and that we are lucky enough to live in America. One poet toasted our forefathers with these words:
“To those whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.”
It sure won’t happen in the checkout line at the K-mart on Thanksgiving Day.