Sunday, November 28, 2010
It's Not About The Food
When I was younger I definitely thought Thanksgiving was about the food. Oh, and time off from school. Actually, it wasn’t all about the food until we were teenagers—at least that’s the way I remember it. My parents are immigrants so Thanksgiving was a very “American” holiday, and my mom wasn’t keen on turkey, so I don’t recall us doing the whole feast thing until we were teenagers and we kids said We want turkey! We still didn’t do the sweet potato and stuffing thing—I remember rice, mushrooms, salad, and rolls. We also didn’t do the whole extended family thing because there wasn’t much family in the States. My mom’s brother and sister immigrated, too, but they probably viewed Thanksgiving much the same way as my mom did. This is all conjecture on my part, but the point is, Thanksgiving became more about traditional foods after I got together with Mark. His relatives crossed the Wild West in covered wagons, so I picture his great-great grandfather tracking down wild turkey with a blunderbuss. It didn’t take long for me to acquire a taste for the traditional Thanksgiving fixin’s (I love stuffing!)and soon we were in the rotation for hosting the meal. And it became about the food—having all the traditional side dishes and condiments and an array of homemade pies and breads and a nicely set table. And yeah, as for most women, it became about the stress, too. Mark’s been saying for years that it’s not about the food (well, except for pumpkin pie—there has to be a pumpkin pie)—it’s about the people. He says it’s about seeing people and just hanging out. Now, I could gripe that that’s because he doesn’t do the shopping or the cooking, but that would be wrong as well as false. He’s actually a great cook (and knows how to make a mean gravy). I could, however, legitimately grumble that it’s because he’s a guy and he doesn’t get the whole stress-for-success aspect of hosting Thanksgiving, but what does that say about me? And since I don’t like to face it when he’s right and I’m wrong, I avoid swimming in those waters. Once I get in I have to admit the Undertow of Truths is just too strong. But I did dip a toe into those waters this year. I cut back on the enormity of the food prep (less dishes, less variety, no homemade bread) and asked other people to bring things. Then I tried to go with the flow and enjoy our guests. Dinner was over before 5:00, but a lot of people hung around until after 9:00, and I hung out with them, just talking and catching up instead of being a maniac hostess trying to clean up. When it was all over, I had to admit that it was very enjoyable and that Mark was right—it really is about the people, not the food. Well, unless stuff’s inedible, and then it’s definitely about the food. It’s also no joke that people can also ruin a Thanksgiving—I’ve experienced that, too. But that’s a separate issue—one that requires a team of psychologists and the couch department of a Furniture Depot. Anyway, if the tradition of the meal is what motivates people to travel long distances to get together, that’s fine. But when hosting the meal starts overshadowing the enjoyment of the company, that’s when it’s good to take a step back and figure out why you’re going through all this effort. Enough musings for now. Here’s hoping you had a nice time with family and / or friends, and that there was enough pie, and that the potatoes weren’t burned. See you next week!