What can be said about Thanksgiving, the holiday, that has not already been said. Human beings with more talent in spouting verse, contemplating the meaning of life, or intellectually discussing the facts of the holiday, have opined about it fully.
However, here I am and Thanksgiving is here too. My website’s wwwdot-moniker, says it all about my style. I’m all about “deep thoughts on random stuff.” So, my thoughts about Thanksgiving may go somewhere unlikely or random, as well.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite of the holidays. And, it was always celebrated at one or the other of our mom’s place. It’s a family holiday if ever there was one.
Preparation of the turkey and fixings have found themselves on my plate for the last while back, ever since the grandma’s aged-out and had to pass the torch. I enjoy fixing the fixings, but the turkey, not so much.
This year will be just a bit different. So, what’s new? So far, the 2020s have been nothing but different, much to the lament of those who dislike change.
I found myself in a “voila” moment when reading an article about how to diminish the stress of holiday pressure. One of the sort-of obvious pointers was, “don’t feel like everything has to be made from scratch.”
This is likely sacrilege to many a home cook/baker. We have taken great pride in our home-made, from-scratch concoctions. I probably still believe those scratch recipes are “the best,” but some corners-cut really won’t be noticed, if you’re careful which corners you cut.
This is my opinion, and I’m sticking to it since that tip gave me instant stress-relief. I hate roasting turkeys, chickens, any poultry, really. I never feel confident with their “doneness.” And, I’ve successfully roasted a whole rafter of them over the years, cumulatively. You’d think I’d get over it already.
But, no. And, somewhere along the line, just the sight, feel, and handling of whole birds makes me almost nauseous. I just can’t. But I do like to eat turkey, particularly the dark meat. For the leftovers, I also love old-fashioned turkey-pie, the kind that some foodies call pot-pie, but a local Pennsylvanian would never, since we know pot-pie is strips of dough cooked in a pot of ham broth.
At any rate, the leftovers of the Thanksgiving meal are almost better and certainly more anticipated than the actual meal, especially if you’re the cook. That reminds me of the time-pressures of preparing the Thanksgiving meal. It’s a traditional one that ideally requires a million hands, devices, and massive kitchen space to get it all ready and hot at the same time. Oh my, the pressure.
Back to my planned-differences with this year’s Thanksgiving. It took several attempts, but we finally triumphed in finding “just turkey drums” (four to be exact since I’m not the only dark-meat lover) and a separate boneless turkey breast.
Now, you might say that’s just a deconstructed turkey, and you would be right. However, with this plan, I see no cleaning off the bird after all is said and done. And I see very little basting, hulking, carcass-gleaning, and sweating over a thermometer, timer, and overly full oven kept at first one temperature then another. I do not have the luxury of two ovens
So, I give a hearty thanks to the writer of that simple tip that lightened my load and eased my burden. The beginning of my happy holidays started with the relinquishment of a long-held expectation onto which I saddled myself.
After all, “my reason for the season,” starts now, hopefully without some of our traditional holiday baggage. I believe that my joy over the Thanksgiving holiday is that its very existence is to officially and ceremonially express our gratitude.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas, but its baggage surrounding gift-giving and gift-receiving can be a lot of expectations-gone-wrong and tremendous pressure to get it all right. But for my family, Thanksgiving is just a meal, a sentiment, and a cozy fire in the fireplace.
“What are you thankful for?” We have at times gone around our table filled with bounty and taken turns articulating something we’re grateful for. We try not to put pressure on anyone, they can pass if they want to and the next guy can say their thankful that some of us have the discretion to be silent.
“There’s always something to be thankful for.” If you’re in a bad mood, this sentiment which is often set in memes passed along on Facebook, might make you groan with sarcasm. But if you’re willing to give up an inch of your fleeting frustration, you will agree that it’s true.
I’m thankful for a holiday intended to celebrate gratitude, goodness, harvest, love, bounty, joy, and warmth in a cold world. Happy Thanksgiving.