Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love it because there are no obligations other than coming together with family and friends to feast on fantastic food (#alliteration). There are no gifts to exchange, no obligatory activities, just eating and drinking and socializing.
When I was a kid, I didn’t care so much. Thanksgiving was a day we were all cooped up in the house, my three brothers were probably fighting over something, there was a football game (which I hate) on the tv, and we’d basically spend the day complaining while my mom cooked. Then we’d fight over how terribly mashed the potatoes were (because Ricky and Jack took turns mashing them, so it was very important to point out every lump), mock Danny for claiming to be allergic to turkey (actually, one year he ended up in the ER, so maybe he was), and basically make my parents regret having four children.
One year I was hospitalized with pneumonia for a week, and that happened to include Thanksgiving. I ate a surprisingly good turkey meal with my mom at the hospital while my dad and brothers had cheese sandwiches at home (mom told him he had to get the turkey in the oven early, clearly he did not listen).
I didn’t start enjoying Thanksgiving until I was out of college and no longer obligated to go to my parents house (it helped that I had moved a thousand miles away). My first Thanksgiving away from home was awesome – some friends and I had our turkey dinner on Wednesday, and then the following day took a road trip to spend the weekend in Vegas, where we ate ourselves sick at various buffets and wandered around the strip. No gambling though – as poor penny-pinching grad students we couldn’t afford to just throw our money away.
The next few years I participated in the ‘Orphans Dinner,’ where those of us (mostly grad students) who didn’t have anywhere else to go came together for an awesome potluck. I even hosted it twice. One year we pit roasted a turkey in my backyard. Another year my roommate and I volunteered to host because we wanted the leftovers. We bought the biggest turkey in the store, and were absolutely shocked when all twenty-eight pounds of it were completely devoured. There was barely even a skeleton left.
When Will and I moved a thousand miles away (and still a thousand miles from my parents – this is a really big country), we had much smaller Thanksgivings. One year, when it was just us, we went to Whole Foods and bought a bunch of fancy cheeses and just sat in front of a roaring fire eating cheese and crackers, and drinking wine. I feel a little nostalgic thinking of that.
Since we moved back here, we’ve always hosted Will’s parents and grandmother, and sometimes some friends as well. It’s become a relaxing day at home, good food, plenty of wine, and someone else to hold the baby.
Since Wildling was a baby, I’ve been looking forward to her being able to help in the kitchen. Today she helped me make pomegranate candies using pomegranates from our tree, and chocolate mousse (while she repeated can I lick the spoon now? are you done with it yet? now can I have it? ad nauseam). I don’t know what kind of traditions we’re going to create, or what kind of memories she’ll have, but I hope she grows to love cooking together. I’ve told her before that when we cook healthy delicious food for people, that’s a way of showing them we love them. I hope she understands that, and I hope she sees the love that goes into preparing a Thanksgiving feast for our family.