With Thanksgiving


I have to tell you something. I know it is a little controversial to say this during Thanksgiving week, but here goes.

Turkeys intimidate me. They confuse me.

Turkeys and Thanksgiving

Turkeys are dry if not prepared the right way. They are large and I have struggled, wrestling with, prepping, seasoning, cooking and carving such large birds.

I have in recent years, found a recipe that has miraculously delivered a moist, delicious bird but I still prefer to cook this just for 3 or 4 people. This is because the bird requires a lot more time and attention when you are trying to entertain. More than the simple roast chicken.

In addition, an online poll showed that the top favorite dish for Americans during Thanksgiving is…mashed potatoes. That’s right folks. The humble potato.

The Original Intent of Thanksgiving

The only reason I choose to confess this opinion of turkey now, is this.

Some people continue to be food insecure and cannot afford to celebrate lavishly this year. They may have to budget their Thanksgiving meal. In addition, due to wars and deep political divisions across religious and political lines, this non-religious holiday will be overshadowed by differences in opinion about politics and war.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to remind you that I wasn’t born in the United States, so you may dismiss me as ignorant of the true Thanksgiving spirit. However, there is a point I am trying to make. There is insight here from the very perspective of a relative Thanksgiving rookie. Please hear me out.

While Christmas has been overly commercialized by retailers who have forced people to make the holiday all about buying expensive gifts, I found as a new immigrant all those years ago that Thanksgiving had not been tainted in the same manner. I loved that it was a holiday about many people getting together to share food and spend time together. To gather and talk over a table full of food.

Then and Now of Thanksgiving

So what do we do this year? Is this the year we get nothing good from this important holiday? Do we get depressed because we cannot get along with people whom we were able to do so with easily in years past? I say ‘no’. My friends, let us try something a little different this year. Let us acknowledge how horribly painful it was to curb our ever increasing collective anxiety and be grateful anyway.

Believe me, I know that it is hard to do this. My not so recent past as a single mother, with no child support, forced me to focus. It helped me focus not on what I did not have, but on that which I did have, even if it was something tiny and even just for a day. And I struggled a lot with the concept because I had experienced a comfortable, privileged upbringing in a very peaceful country, at that time. In essence, I had been a cloistered child. I worked hard in my later years, but so did everyone else.

So it was a grueling process to list anything that I had no matter how tiny it was and to express gratitude. But over time, I realized I had escaped an abusive first marriage in a Marriage Without Love. I was able to face the future with less fear. In addition, I get to be with an amazing man, who is my husband now and he makes my life happy. I realized that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be grateful and that perhaps, we are too used to complaining to see what is right in front of us.

Gratitude for the Future

Let us first acknowledge that we were able to enjoy Thanksgivings past and be grateful for the experience. We should not dwell on what we don’t have at our table but who we have around us. Let us try to appreciate what we have, like peace and a place to rest our heads at night, even when we know others have more than us. I can tell you my experience as a single mother and then, a new immigrant, taught me and transformed me, by doing this very thing.

Let us decide that this Thanksgiving, is about peace and gratitude. We should see this year as the year that brings us to a fork in the road, where we focus on what we have. Let us try and appreciate that some will seek to divide us by highlighting what we do not have. But we are united in a goal that is far larger than the petty stuff. We should value peace and ultimately, be thankful for it. 

A turkey I made for Thanksgiving several years ago.

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