Growing up, our relatives were a minimum of a ten hour drive away. So, our Thanksgivings were spent with church family. Each year, my mom would invite over the church singles and couples who also didn’t have family nearby.
A health food store manager, my mom made everything homemade from scratch, from the whole wheat biscuits to the pumpkin pie… with the exception of a can of cranberry jelly purchased at the request of my father. I loved to smother white turkey meat with cranberry jelly.
A little, okay a lot, on the nerdy side, my parents never turned on the tv to the football game during Thanksgiving. Actually, the tv was never on. Our record player softly played classical and new age music. After Thanksgiving dinner, we’d often go out with everyone to see a movie – especially if there was a new Star Trek movie playing.
When I married my husband, the high school football player, I was surprised to learn that there were football games during Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving during the early years of our marriage were mostly spent at my husband Jay’s mom’s house, where Jay’s step-father cooked the turkey, made mashed potatoes with whole milk and sticks of butter, and reheated pre-made rolls and cans of green beans. Football was always on, and I tried to learn about the game. We’d eat when his mom returned from her shift as a nurse where she earned double time on holidays.
Since becoming vegetarians 5 years ago, we’ve started having Thanksgiving at our house, or bringing our own versions of tofu turkeys and vegetarian stuffings… much to the dismay of my husband’s family. They don’t get the vegetarian thing, and I think it makes them a little uncomfortable. I’m not sure how to put them more at ease with our different way of eating. Hopefully, over time it won’t feel like such a big deal to them.
I read a heartwarming book this week called Thanksgiving Tales: True Stories of the Holiday in America. It is filled with 48 true Thanksgiving stories from various authors.
One of the included memoirs is “Mangia Mania”, the story of an Italian-American Thanksgiving where the dishes served included green carrot jello, cheesy scalloped potatoes, Sicilian ground meat stuffing and (of course) rigatoni and where no one realized that they forgot to serve the turkey until everyone was stuffed as a turkey themselves. Then there’s “Spellbound” , a story filled with fond memories of 1940’s Thanksgivings where the author enjoyed helping her aunt make cheese-stuffed celery as a girl. And I loved the funny story “Shanghai’d Thanksgiving” which recalls an expatriate’s first Thanksgiving in China complete with a $100, uneaten rare turkey.
It was fun to get a glimpse into the lives of others’ Thanksgivings, and I think this book would be a nice gift for a Thanksgiving host.
*Disclaimer: I was given one copy of “Thanksgiving Tales” to read and review. No other monetary compensation was given. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced by the author or publisher in any way.*