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.