Monday, November 27, 2006

Gluttony, Stuffing, and Giving Thanks


I'm still kinda recovering, which I think is what the majority of my friends and acquaintances are doing. You know, I like Thanksgiving...sort of. At least, I like the food, which anyone who knows me will tell you is enough incentive for me to do just about anything. But I suppose I've gotten cranky as I've gotten older. Or maybe I'm just more cynical. Or lazy.

Does anyone else ever feel like Thanksgiving is the obligatory holiday? The one where we look forward to it with a mix of anticipation and resignation? I don't know how many people I talked to right before Thursday who said stuff like, "Yeah, I was invited down to my uncle's house, but it's such a long drive..." and "I'm supposed to go to my cousin's house, but God, it's gonna be a nightmare,because someone always starts an argument," or, "I volunteered to cook this year, and now I wish someone had stopped me before I opened my big mouth."

It's a weird holiday. I went up to see my sister and her family for the Big Day. And I enjoyed it--don't get me wrong. Sis is a fabulous cook, and she makes a stuffing that I could eat for a solid month. She and I can find anything--and I mean anything--to laugh at, and laugh at long and loud, until tears are streaming down our cheeks. My niece and nephew are lively, energetic, and engaging kids, and I absolutely adore them, no matter how much they can exhaust me in an alarmingly short span of time. I love going to visit my sister; that's not the problem for me at all.

The problem is that it's kind of a letdown once you actually get to sit down and eat. It's anticlimactic; after all the cooking and waiting and drooling...and starving all damn day so that you have room for the turkey and fixin's...well, all I can say is, I've never been able to eat and enjoy as much of the food as I thought I would at the start of Thanksgiving day. And that really bums me out. I live for food, and Thanksgiving is the one day I can freely and uninhibitedly indulge in my love (or gluttony) for carbohydrates. To not be able to have second helpings of stuffing, mashed potatoes, biscuit, and green bean casserole is just criminal to me.

Not so bad, in the entire scheme of things, I'll grant you. But I couldn't help thinking of some of those friends of mine who truly could have been just as happy staying home and ordering Chinese. Thanksgiving can be a real chore, let's face it. It doesn't mean we don't love our families, or want to be around them. It doesn't even mean we really mind the cooking. It's just that it's the one day we're all pretty much expected to demonstrate these sentiments, or otherwise be thought of as bad progeny. And that's really not fair.

I remember last year we had a snowstorm Thanksgiving Eve. It wasn't really a very bad one; we've certainly had worse in this neck of the woods. But by morning the roads were still pretty treacherous and icy, and the drive to Sis' house is a good half hour on a really bad highway. I just didn't want to take the chance of ending up as part of New England scenery. So I stayed home. I think my sister was actually a little bit relieved, because the snow meant she only had to cook up a turkey breast and some side dishes for her, her husband, and the kids. She didn't have to spend the entire day waiting for an entire bird to roast, imprisoned in the kitchen. It didn't mean I didn't love her, or that she didn't love me, or that we didn't want to see each other, but I think both of us were pretty satisfied with the arrangement.

Me? I crept to the little market down the street, got myself some provisions, and happily spent Thanksgiving cuddled up watching movies and the parade in New York while the snow fell desultorily past my window. I was warm, full, safe, and comfortable. I was thankful for it, and so was my sister.

*Incidentally, do you know what was actually eaten at the first Thanksgiving? Nope, not turkey and cranberries and stuffing. The surviving settlers feasted on clams, seaweed, nuts, corn, and berries.

I suppose that's another thing to be thankful for. I'd boycott if there wasn't stuffing.


Jean said...

we're all pretty much expected to demonstrate these sentiments, or otherwise be thought of as bad progeny

And so finally, the greatest luxury of being the bad seed is understood. Nobody expects me to do anything but grunt and hog the gravy.

Irish Girl said...

Heeheehee...There IS a soul sister in Maryland....