It’s Thanksgiving! Hands down, the best holiday of the year. Although not gonna lie, Halloween threatened to edge out Thanksgiving to claim the number one spot this year with all the cute kids and adorable costumes. First place winner: the five-year-old dressed as Jake from State Farm; he was wearing khakis, plus a red polo shirt with a nametag and a plastic State Farm bag to collect his candy. Classic.
But it is difficult, if not impossible, to beat a holiday based entirely on food. I mean counting blessings and being grateful. And food. Because let’s face it, I’m most thankful for the delightful food.
Perhaps it is because I have been blessed with a family with mad cooking skills. (Does anyone still say mad skills?) My mom and her sisters can go into the kitchen with a can of Treat meat and a box of cake mix and come out with a feast fit for a king, plus enough servings for an army. And send you home with leftovers.
We are the only family I know that has lasagna for Thanksgiving. Not in place of the turkey, but in addition to. There will also be beef. Because some people don’t like turkey. Two kinds of stuffing because some people don’t like it cooked inside the bird. There are enough mashed potatoes for all 15-20 of us to have at least a pound of potatoes on our plate, twice. Real mashed potatoes, not boxed, perish the thought. And dumplings, just because one year I mentioned that I like dumplings. So now there are dumplings. Maybe this year I will mention I like Lamborghinis.
The desserts have their own room. Technically, the beverages are also there, but they just take up a mini-fridge under the tables that hold the many desserts. Of course there is pumpkin pie. I think it is illegal to have Thanksgiving without it, right? Or at least it should be. Plus there is homemade coconut cream, butterscotch, and chocolate pies—with and without merengue (see above about different people liking different things). There is lard cake, which deserves its own blog so I will come back to that another day. There are other pies and cakes and delectable treats (including Rice Krispie) that are waiting to be sampled. There is homemade candy, fudge, and cookies. There are other things that I can’t even remember.
Growing up, I thought everyone celebrated the holiday in this fashion. Then as I became a global citizen and my worldview expanded (sorry, I couldn’t resist), I learned that not all Americans celebrate in the same fashion. One year, I went to a friend’s house where rice was served in place of mashed potatoes. Note I said one year; never did that again. One year, I made Thanksgiving dinner myself for some friends who were unable to go home for the holidays. Again, one year. Way too much work for me.
Once I moved to DC and lived surrounded by people with ideas like infusing the turkey in wheat berry juice, I found I loved my family’s Thanksgiving celebration enough to break one of my cardinal rules: no traveling on holidays. And so began my annual trek through sunshine, rain, snow, ice–whatever the weather gods threw at me each year—and traffic, always lots and lots of traffic.
Deep down, I know it is because it’s the one time of year I am guaranteed to see my mom’s side of the family (minus a few hunters, if conditions are right), but it is more fun to write about the food. Now that I am back home in the mountains, the holiday is even better. Well, except for the part where I actually cook a side dish now, but I make my total bad ass husband (PTST) help with that part. There is no driving in traffic or worrying about the weather or if the McDonald’s will be open so I can stop to pee. Just a short jaunt to my aunt’s house and a long jaunt through the food line, followed by another, and perhaps another. Did I mention there are dumplings?
And this year there is a new puppy! Thanksgiving, indeed….