Thursday, November 25, 2004Thanksgiving
I've always had mixed feelings about this one. Let's be honest, this holiday doesn't have so much to do with feast or famine, or pilgrims and indians so much as it's a monumental ode to American consumption. So it's not exactly the most enlightened of national festivals. On the other hand, I rarely get sweet potato casserole otherwise, and certainly don't have any other excuses for making the elaborate dishes I get to make when ten or twelve other people are there to share them with me, so it's not without its good points. And the experience of dozing in a warm room after an enormous meal is one of life's true creature comforts.
But this is also a holiday that's notorious for going drastically and dramatically wrong. This is a dangerous holiday.
For example, there was the Thanksgiving we spent at my grandmother's powerless house (there was a bad storm that day), heating up each bite of over-salted mashed potatoes over candle flames, while making studiously polite conversation with my aunt's prison-bound child-molester boyfriend (seriously) while my nearly-vegetative grandfather, who -- thanks to five or six strokes by that time -- had not eaten solid food in several years, leaving him to drool and stare at us while we ate. That was fun.
And then there was the Thanksgiving in London when Rebecca and I decided to host dinner for all the American students at our film school (along with anyone else who wanted to come). We asked for five quid a head to help cover the expenses; I did the shopping -- including going to Selfridge's for a turkey and hideously overpriced cans of Libby's pureed pumpkin -- and the cooking for twenty people. Big pans of vegetables and sweet potatoes and stuffing/dressing (pick your word), several cans of honest-to-god Ocean Spray cranberry sauce (complete with can-interior ridges), three pumpkin pies, and a sagey, buttery turkey. Rebecca made the gravy. My then-boyfriend came along, and the whole time he was there he wouldn't stop exclaiming his endless love for Reb's gravy, while my (damn good) cooking went utterly unnoticed. I was already aware that he fancied her, but he didn't have to be so fucking obvious about it. And to top it off, I was nursing a middling case of strep throat on Thanksgiving day, and when it finally came time to eat (after seven hours of cooking), I found it too painful to choke down more than a little. By the time I was well again, all the leftovers had either been consumed by others or had spoiled. All that work and I didn't even get any... and to top it off, only three people ever made the asked-for donation, so it cost me and Rebecca rather more dearly than either of us could afford.
These days I have Thanksgiving with my stepfather's family, which is nice and all, but does sometimes underline the lack of any real family of my own. On the other hand, nobody fights (a tradition in many families), and I'm not under any familial obligation to hang around after the meal while the old men watch football and talk about lawn mowers. (Conversation around here always leads to yard care sooner or later.)
I dunno... I never know whether to make the attempt to let this holiday pass me by along with most others (who needs it?), or to indulge myself in missing it in an over-romanticized way. I do know, however, that if it were up to me, we'd always have goose on Thanksgiving. Fuck the turkey.
Oh, and don't forget, Friday is International Buy-Nothing Day. Seems kinda silly that the whole world should have to commemorate the orgy of consumer excess that is the American Day-After-Thanksgiving Sale... but then again, I guess that makes perfect sense.
Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. |