Monday, November 19, 2012

No meal is harder than Thanksgiving. It lacks the sparkle of New Year's Eve, the elegance of Christmas dinner, or the casual spontaneity of a summer grilled feast. Thanksgiving is burdened with too many uninspired ingredients -- the pterodactyl-sized turkey; gravy, always difficult to do well; cranberries; assorted root vegetables; and the culinary oddity of pumpkin pie.
Many of these foods are eaten only once a year, and Thanksgiving brings them on with abundance. Thus it is no surprise I began hearing signs of insurrection two weeks before the big event.
"What, turkey again?"
"Can we have steak instead?"
"I hate pumpkin pie."
"I hate mashed potatoes."
"What are yams and why do we have them?"
"Couldn't we just get Chinese?"
"Can we get a really, really big turkey?"
"Could we have no turkey?"
"You should definitely brine the turkey."
"This is the year for tur-duck-en."
"Let's deep fry it this time."
"Let's have ham instead."
So, we agreed to have a nice dinner and not worry about what we are "supposed" to have. But tradition has a way of sneaking up one you. First it was C.J. and Ellie's art classes. They produced quantities of cute little turkey objects designed to serve as centerpieces for the table. They sing turkey songs at school. They expect to see a turkey.
Then it was the additional guests -- one who is a victim of Hurricane Sandy. I'm sorry, but someone whose home has been without power deserves better than Chinese takeout.
Then it was all those side dishes. It turns out people like them.
"I hate turkey but I really love the stuffing you made last time."
"We can still have the wild rice dish, right?
"You're going to make homemade rolls, aren't you?"
Thus tradition wins. The photo above, which has absolutely nothing to do with turkey, shows HOME, amidst the long shadows of late autumn, which is where everyone wants to be.  Home with an almost-completed driveway.
Although Harold will not yet be with us, his time at Spaulding is coming to an end, and we are  hoping very much that he will be home -- the best place in all the world -- for the next big holiday, Christmas. All of us will be so very glad to see him at the head of the table we would gladly eat McDonald's just for the pleasure of his company once again. With any luck, all the turkey leftovers will be gone!      

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