What better time, meal, gathering, opportunity or disaster than Thanksgiving to try to blend, create and respect the old vs. the new? It’s a new canvas or loaded gun depending on your point of view and who’s actually doing the cooking!
I love Thanksgiving as do most Americans. It is a part of the holiday season – a gateway as well as the harvest. Harvest is a wonderful time to gather the fruit of hard-earned labor and to give thanks for the ability to do so. It is a time of sharing, reviewing and appreciating.
In many households, the meal is the centerpiece – a clarion call for family and friends to share what is better and what is worse. So food can be an important metaphor for honoring tradition (ancestors) and creating transition (the rest of us).
In my household, there will be eight females. Three spirited elders (over 80), four “women of a certain age” and one blossoming sweet girl. Oh, and my female hound dog. We did this before, the same group in 2011. In the past two years, we have weathered loss, major illnesses, a blizzard, a super-storm, heartbreak, emotional trauma, new friendships, new directions, courage, strength and so on… In other words, many more reasons to be grateful to be able to gather once again around the table. My table to be exact.
And it is in a lovely table in an old, cozy and warm farmhouse on wooded and managed farmland. The kitchen holds aromas throughout the day of turkey roasting and apples baking. It is the setting, albeit a smaller, older and female (this year) version of a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving calendar. In other words – a blended modern family-friend gathering.
So now, with only about four of us eating an adult portion – I am trying to determine what stays (tradition) and what goes (transition) this year in order to save time, energy and resources without sacrificing the bounty. Stay with me on this… my big question – do I buy a smallish 14 – 15 lb. turkey from the local farm as usual and continue to support the small and historic farm OR do I buy turkey parts (at the local butcher), roast them and save myself a good deal of time and effort to cook, carve and cleanup the mess. Do the math – it seems simple: roasting turkey parts = more time + more energy – grease = more fun! The magazine Bon Appetit piqued my interest with recipes and beautiful photos of breasts and leg served browned to perfection with herbs and carrots on beautiful platters.
The proverbial light bulb or in this case – sunflower is lit. Now the idea is to sell it to the elders of the group who shopped, prepped, cooked, baked, served and cleaned up throughout the night-before, day-of, without a dishwasher, electronic devices and kitchen aides etc. and walked uphill (both ways) to school in snowstorms with regular shoes. I’ve got my work cut out for me. Keep in mind that I am the one also responsible for initiating several other changes including but not limited to eliminating the ever-popular (even sacrosanct in Italian families) pasta and gravy-meat course, soup with little meatballs (now called Italian Wedding soup) course and fruit and nuts. Someone has to do it. As the eldest female – third generation on my mother’s side – I have excercised my right and responsibility to institute many changes that usually involved one or more of angst, fear, anger, and aggita (Italian indigestion). So be it. I’ll keep you posted or… not!
ag ~ Early November 2013