What does this day mean to you? It may bring on full blown anxiety at the prospect of preparing what is deemed a culinary feat for some and others it may bring a day full of nostalgia and family traditions.b If you are not from the US this day may be one of many which baffles you and causes you much distress trying to do something that has no immediate connection to you, your heritage, or your own cultural culinary skills.
Two weeks ago, I was in my local supermarket and I was trailing behind a two individuals who where trying to decipher a list of items for the shopper. I do not tell this story to be condescending or cruel, I tell it to illustrate my point here. The supermarket employee had “the list” and was running from isle to isle showing the buyer the items on the list. The buyer would stop the cart and look at the item and ask: “…what do I do with this?…”; the employee would say: “…you eat it with the turkey….” and then raised his eyebrows and the shopper nodded and he tossed it in her cart.
I crossed paths with these two for 20 minutes and I finally looked into this shopper’s cart and saw a cart full of items that baffled even me, a seasoned Thanksgiving feast aficionado. I wanted so badly to stop this woman and ask her several questions, but I didn’t. I just am really wondering how she is making out today; Thanksgiving.
I remember my very first Thanksgiving feast; I was a sophomore in college and I didn’t have the funds to fly home, so my Mom gave me the recipes and my grandparents bought the ingredients and I showed up to cook. Much like the woman in the story above. I had the list, the recipes and the food, but I had never attempted to cook the entire meal myself. In our family my job was the stuffing, so I was confident about that one dish. To top it all off, we had a house guest. A student from another country who had no where to go on Thanksgiving and had never seen a turkey.
The meal turned out to be perfect. The student later became my husband and Thanksgiving is his favorite American holiday…..I wonder why?! My grandparents gave a glowing review to my parents and my culinary ego was kicked into the stratosphere! If I can cook Thanksgiving dinner, I can cook anything.
Since that Thanksgiving long ago, we have always had a bevy of new friends, family and those who have never seen a turkey at the table to share our meal of thanks. I began a tradition when our family was very young to bring the true meaning of the holiday to those who sat at our table.
I use candle clips and attach on to each plate with a small red or green candle in the clip. Once every one is seated, I begin by lighting my candle and I model the following: “….I light my candle and give thanks for……(then I saw several things that I am thankful for)…..”. I then turn to my right and unclip my candle to light the person to my right candle and then do the same thing. I purposely put all the new people at my left so that by the time the candle lighting gets to them they know what to do and have had time to think of something. Then we same “Amen” and blow out our candles.
I especially like to look at the faces of our guests who have never experienced this and see their reaction to a family tradition.
What is your Thanksgiving Tradition?