Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Not About the Food

Monday I went grocery shopping and yesterday and today I've been getting ready for Thursday's feast -- making chicken broth and cranberry sauce, stirring up a double batch of thyme and pumpkin dinner rolls and putting them in the refrigerator for a long slow rise, mixing up a big mold of my grandmother's cranberry, celery, and pecan gelatin salad . . .
The turkey -- from the grocery store, not one of the wild one we watched all summer -- is defrosting in the basement.   I've made some smoked salmon and cream cheese spread to go with the Bloody Marys before the feast. I've even made some almond brittle to top the pumpkin chiffon pie I'll be making later today.
There'll just be seven or eight of us this year -- and as I work my way down the list of things to do, I think of a piece I wrote about five years ago. Apologies if you've read it before.



It's Not About the Food
 It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I’m at the grocery store.  The weather is cold and snowy and I’ve skipped painting class to get ready for Thursday.  My shopping cart is piled high with raw ingredients – a 20 pound turkey, celery, onions, kale, cranberries, butter, whipping cream – okay, there are two bags of cornbread stuffing and several cans of pumpkin puree and chicken broth, but in my mind, these are raw ingredients.
            In the checkout line, I study the tabloids; I have only the vaguest idea who Jen and Brad are so I turn my attention to the shopping cart ahead of me – paper plates, plastic cups, pre-made pie crusts, a can of lemon meringue filling (I mentally taste the artificial flavoring and my worst fears are confirmed as six jars of pale brown gravy slide down the belt.)  There are two large bags of frozen broccoli florets and I silently congratulate the benighted shopper for not having succumbed to the lure of the canned green bean, mushroom soup, and canned fried onion casserole.  But I am inwardly appalled at the idea of a Thanksgiving dinner with such uninspired ingredients.  Then the cashier says to the tired-looking woman, whose groceries these are, “Big family Thanksgiving?” 
               A beautiful smile illuminates the weary shopper’s face.  “Yes, we’ll all be together,” she replies softly, as though caressing each word.
                 Her happiness is transcendent and suddenly my perceptions swing around in a dizzying 180 degree shift.  It’s not about the food.  
  
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23 comments:

Victoria said...

That was beautiful, Vicki. I'd not had the pleasure of reading it before, so thank you for re-posting it. And you're so right; it's not about the food at all.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

joanny said...

Vicki:

Lovely story.... it is food for reflection..the everyday small joys that occur so routinely we forget how much they mean to us and the steady flow of benefits bestowed on us by the people we know and even those we don't know.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
joanny

I tried putting your book on my side bar to link back -- which does work but the size of the book is so small? any suggestions?

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely story Vicki. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Sam

KarenB said...

Lovely, Vicki. Thank you and happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

We had an interfaith Thanksgiving service last night in which the pastor talked about the concept of a mitzvah. A mitzvah is a commandment you are to fulfill which brings you blessings for having done so - like feeding the hungry, giving thanks, etc. Again, it's not about the food.

Star said...

That's so true Vicki. I love to see what you're cooking and making, so very different to what I cook over here. Whatever is a thyme and pumpkin dinner roll? Almond brittle? Anyway it all sounds gorgeous.
Busy mums especially ones who go out to work need all the help they can get so I don't blame them for shopping ready made. However, if you have the time and the inclination, then it tastes so good when you make it yourself.
Over here in England we won't be having Thanksgiving. It has no relevance to us (obviously) but I for one like to enjoy yours. Larry tells me the scarecrow is hanging on our front door over there. He also told me yesterday that my ticket is booked for return to Tennessee on 6th January so I do have something to celebrate.
Good luck with your preparations. I think 7/8 is quite enough to cook for.
Blessings, Star

Louise said...

That was a lovely story, Vicki. Thank you for reminding us about the true meaning, not only of Thanksgiving, but, of any holiday.

Vicki Lane said...

I confess to looking at other's shopping carts and deciding whether I'd like to have dinner with them or not, based on the food they're buying. But this experience reminded me that I'd be missing some lovely people if I turned up my nose at gravy from a jar.

Joanny -- thanks so much! This URL ought to give you a larger
picture.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_sR_MszAgX_I/TFHr3wio4II/AAAAAAABBXw/mH-eqtIE6RA/s1600/day+of+small+things.jpg

Star -- those are dinner rolls that include canned (!) pumpkin and dried thyme in the ingredients. Yummy! and almond brittle is just slivered almonds stirred in a frying pan with sugar til the sugar melts and the almonds brown.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I'm off to chop celery and onions for the dressing....

Bouncin' Barb said...

This was so nice Vicki...Thanks!

Reader Wil said...

Very touching, Vicky! And also very true. I wish you a great and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Brian Miller said...

smiles. that was lovely....it is about being all together...

BB said...

Now when I go to the grocery store, I'm going to be looking at the carts of the people in front of me and determining if I'd like to have dinner with them. LOL! That's pretty funny.

Thanksgiving was always such a happy festive time, until 1998 when my mom died unexpectedly of an aneurysm on Thanksgiving Day. Until then, it had never occurred to me that people actually die on holidays. It just didn't seem right. Many years have passed, and Thanksgiving is a happy time again, but I still find myself keenly aware of those who have lost loved ones, or suffered some kind of tragedy on or near the holidays.

Margie said...

Happy Thanksgiving Vicki, and it definitely is not about the food, enjoy the day in the company of family and friends. Thanksgiving is not celebrated here in Ireland, we (my family) only started celebrating when my daughter met Chris,now my son in law and with both he and my grandaughter being US citizens I make a small celebration each year, even if we are not together. Big hugs, Margie.

Misty said...

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

What a lovely story of it not being about food. Thanks for sharing it again on your post. I was unfamiliar with it. Happy Thanksgiving --

jennyfreckles said...

Wishing you a most wonderful Thanksgiving, Vicki, with some precious moments to remember - and some good food (even if it's not about the food!)

dana said...

You were exhausting me by writing of all the cooking you are doing and I felt pathetic by comparison. So, thank you for including your story...at least I can always say in my defense that it wasn't about the food.

Vicki Lane said...

See, the thing is, I like to cook -- not all the time but mostly. And I've done Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the past forty some years -- it's not that big a deal for me.

But that moment in the grocery store five years ago really was a moment of revelation for me . . .

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you -- no matter what you're eating or where you live!

Pamela said...

Thanks for posting this again, it's beatiful dear VIcki. It certainly not about the food, but the food is all about love. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, all my love to you and your family

Suz said...

Oh my
oh dear
heavens to betsy
i guess that's why you have "author"
after your name
that was wonderful
Thank you!

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Poignant, I have seen that person in the check out line....to each her own....that green bean casserole has become a mainstay here, tho'frozen or even freshly fileted greenies are used and fresh 'shrooms ....one year I skipped it and there was an uproar...lots of other goodies, but funny what folks want. I want one of yor Bloody Mary's in the AM and will have to do so whilst stuffing the bird!

Merisi said...

I read this yesterday, but was too tired to comment.
Thank you for sharing your stories and thoughts with us, and I could not agree more on this one. We all have our limited resources, one way or the other, and no one shall look down on those who celebrate a meal differently. May everybody find peace and love at the table they sit together today.

Kath said...

You are so absolutely right. My husband and I celebrate alone, and the food is good. But the day to remember and give thanks is the point.
Kath

Deanna said...

You are right, it is not about the food. I'm going to tell myself that next year when I am once again tempted to kill myself cooking for three days in preparation of the feast! It is about family and friends and remembering everything we have to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.