Dear Thanksgiving, I’ve always been wishy-washy about you.
Once upon a time I liked you pretty well. It meant a long weekend home from college, a chance to see old friends, play silly games with my cousins. Eat some mashed potatoes. Gnaw on some Thin Mints. Pumpkin pie.
And now? Now I have lived through a million Thanksgivings, give or take. They all seem to run together. I no longer register anything that resembles excitement about the day. Plus, I tend to eschew whatever popular culture loves, minus my beloved reality dating shows.
In full disclosure, I don’t care much for most holidays, including an active loathing for alcohol-soaked Fourth of July and St. Patrick’s Day. I do, however, have tender feelings toward Halloween, Labor Day (I know, random) and Valentine’s Day. That trope about being created by Hallmark? Don’t care. I love it. What’s not to love about love?
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But my editor said write something Thanksgiving-related. Probably he didn’t mean a takedown of the holiday. My apologies. But I’m working on building my honesty muscle, while starving my inner people pleaser. (OK, yes, I people pleased my editor. But Walt Whitman tells me I am large and contain multitudes.)
Over the past few years the holiday has felt increasingly uncomfortable to celebrate, what with its problematic history and violent treatment of Indigenous peoples back in the day. And given my mostly life-long vegetarian status, I’m also not cool with all the turkey violence. What’d they ever do to us? Poor gobblers.
And also, I have questions about what seem to be our collective, socially approved goals for the holiday: Why oh why do we prize gorging ourselves on this day so we end it feeling uncomfortable and sick? Why must the unbuckling of the belt be our raison d’être? And don’t get me started on Black Friday.
Nowadays, I mostly think of the fourth Thursday as a blessed extra day off work to do a long workout, listen to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” as I make a vegetable dish (this year will also include a big bowl of buttered and spiced popcorn because how fun is that?), take said bowls of goodness to dine and commune with my family, and later on, find the melancholy beauty in the gathering gloam of short days, long dark nights, the steady march toward year’s end, and all of life’s unanswered questions.
Two things I’ve learned to not eat on Thanksgiving or any other day I prize the health of my microbiome:
A) Tofurky. I ate some for the first time at a friend’s Thanksgiving-adjacent celebration many years ago. The wheat gluten and tofu menagerie tasted pretty swell in the moment. That moment quickly passed. Later, as I sat in a theater watching “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (don’t judge me), the nausea sucker punched my poor belly and didn’t let up for three days.
B) My mom’s cherry cobbler crockpot dessert that has approximately 10 sticks of butter, five cans of evaporated milk, 22 cans of cherry pie filling, one bag of flour and 34 cups of sugar. A few bites, and my belly (she’s chatty) says, “You’re walking a very thin line here, missy.” Second helping, and she rages, “How could you?! You have unleashed the demons. Prepare for whole body paralysis over the next week as we bring things back into homeostasis.”
Thanksgiving does indeed come with its own thematic trope — gratitude. Nothing wrong with feeling grateful for what you’ve got. I approve. And friends, here’s what I’ve got: Fruitcake season is upon us. Every winter the heavens open and rain down loaves of fruit and candied nuts. I’m not being facetious. I love the cake of fruit.
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Last year, after dining on homemade fruitcake from a friend over the course of three December breakfasts, I went online to see about buying a whole loaf from somewhere. Quite possibly the dark web. This search went nowhere quickly as the shame of buying internet fruitcake overtook me. It felt dirty. Kind of like the time I decided the out of season chocolate-covered strawberries from King Soopers were so good in mid-February (yay Valentine’s Day) that I should go online and find more. That impulse also passed in a cloud of shame, especially when I saw the price.
To sum it up, I enjoy some holiday foods and some holidays some of the time. But I will always say no to Tofurky.
Contact the writer: 636-0270
Contact the writer: 636-0270