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!


neonina05 said...

Happy (late) thanksgiving! That's kind of cool that you didn't have a traditional thanksgiving for a while, actually.

And I kind of agree about the whole stress thing. Not that my mom likes it when I help, much, anyway -- she always lets my other sisters help, but when I offer they all tell me no. I guess I mess things up or something. I have no idea why! Haha!

Sam said...

I <3 PUMPIKIN PIE!!! (I ate like,1 slices)I kinda like the ood best 'cause my family is always throwing parties (i was my aunt's turn this time)so I see my family ALL the time.

Sam said...

oops! i meant 10 slices

Pooja Dimba said...

Happy Thanksgiving.
I know I'm especially thankful for the books you write! (:
My mom gets stressed a ton. When we try to help her she gets mad and when we don't help her she gets mad.. haha.
Anywho, great post!

Eleanor said...

For the past four years Thanksgiving has been about going down to my brother's old high school and eating Thanksgiving lunch there then going to see a movie and grabbing a small dinner in a restaurant, but this year even though my brother graduated we still went down and i hung out with two friends from school who were also there with their siblings. On Friday we had "family Thanksgiving" at my house with my parents, brother, sister, and our family friends who have spent so much time at our house they might as well be related to us. Then on Saturday we went over to their house to eat their Thanksgiving left overs, which was totally fun! So I've had three Thanksgivings and way to much pie! I love Thanksgiving!!!

bookworm said...

i wish i could forget how much i ate.

Lucy said...

My family doesn't do that kind of stuff. We instead go out to eat. It saves a my parents from getting stressed out. I wished I had pie..

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

I love all the mentioning of pie. My son and his friends used to go around randomly saying "I like pie!"

I also like the different descriptions of how you spent T-day. Some of you sound like you really enjoy the day, and some of you sound like you could certainly do without it.

For the record, I like pie! (Pecan, especially.)

Optimistic4ever said...

Now, I have to admit, my family certainly does not celebrate Thanksgiving. Very unfortunate, I have to say. However, my cousins and I did wind up baking a batch of brownies, 3 batches of chocolate chip cookies, and one batch of sugar cookies. And I realized, as you did perhaps, that it didn't matter what we had for dinner and all that. It was the company that was most enjoyable!

And about your son going around saying, "I like pie!", my friends and I do the same, EXCEPT we say,
"I like pi!" And than we recite as much of mathematical pi as we know. I know only 30 digits. One of my friends knows around a hundred. People do occasionally stare at us as if we're really strange and we need psychologists, but honestly, it doesnt affect me. I think its important to just be yourself, and if that's me, I guess other people will just have to deal.

Alexa said...

Happy belated Turkey day! I had a great one!!!! (two actually :D) I made two of my (got to be by now) famous apple crumbly pies! You have not tasted apple pie until you have eaten those!!!! And the potatoes weren't burned! (LOL) Omg, i loved the potatoes!!!!!!!! They were sooooo good! And the turkey....YUM! I'm hungry again......AND I JUST ATE!

I do agree with you about the whole it's not about the food but the people. Yes, the food is one of the perks, but it's about being together. And enjoying being together. It's a time to be thankful for everything and enjoy the company of family and friends. (Of course, you still have to have the turkey) See ya next post!!!!

Anonymous said...

So, like a potluck?
We did that this year. And sorry, I know it's sort of late to comment but. Yeah.
Anyway my family and two of my extended families just called each other and told us to bring food.. We don't really have traditional Thanksgivings either, actually. We didn't even have alike a "meal". My mom made Mexican and my other cousins’ famiy brought KFC and the third family brought the dessert which was called "mush". Long story.
But then my mom had to run out to do some errand like at 10am, so by the time she got back her Mexican rice was cold and we drove like back and forth like fools for twenty minutes. Heh. But yeah, that’s how our thanksgiving went. And by the time we got there all the kids were already like eating KFC, so it was like “Oh hello there. Happy thanksgiving? Here’s some Mexican rice, now gimme some KFC”.
And you’re definitely right about the “its about the people” thing. I cant even imagine having a formal Thanksgiving at a dinner table, with only my family, just…eating. Because my family never eats dinner at the table anyway, we always eat separately. We’re not very close, we used to eat together but throughout the years its just been, like, it doesn’t really matter anymore whether we eat together or not because its not going to change our problems. But being at a “thanksgiving dinner” with my cousins’ families and my own family together, it just felt right. Probably because those aunts are awesome. That’s where the “mush” comes in. (My aunt brought in the mush which was chocolate things that are in the shape of owl pellets which in case anyone doesn’t know, is regurgitated food from an owl. But it really was just chocolate. Okay never mind).
Okay but anyway, I actually read this post a couple days ago and I would have commented earlier except my friend got expelled the other day cuz he pulled a switchblade knife out on two people this year (it was to DEFEND his other friend who was being beaten up) and now he’s expelled and being sent to a reform school and today he came back to empty his locker out and he carved “lust” into his empty locker (with his knife, nonetheless) in honor of that Hollywood Undead song “Knife Called Lust” which is about suicide and stuff because he’s so depressed. And then I opened his locker today with my friend and we saw it and it was probably the saddest thing in the world, and we’re never gonna see him again and I was really close to him so I cried, and then I thought about all my other friends and why I was “thankful” for them which reminded me of thanksgiving which reminded me of this blog which reminded me to actually comment finally. Sorry I write/talk a LOT when I’m upset, and I cant ever stop. Probably because writing makes me feel better and stopping would mean that feeling to go away, so I never want to stop. Um.ok.bye.
Happy very late Thanksgiving! \
Oh and. I’m very thankful of you by the way. Just so you know, your very existence makes mine a lot better. Not only your books but this blog and just, I don’t even know. But thank you anyway. That’s all.

Elizabeth said...

My family usually cooks a big meal and my aunt and her husband come over, but that didn't happen this year. Instead, I went over to my friend's house and celebrated with him and his family ^_^. It was actually a lot of fun, and he is one of the people I am most grateful for in this world, so it just felt right :). Happy late Thanksgiving!