Sunday, November 23, 2008


I really like Thanksgiving. Not just for the food, which is good, or the family, which is better, but as a sociological study. You can learn a lot about a person by asking what they do for thanksgiving.

Although I grew up in SC, my mother was born in Massachusetts, and so our Thanksgiving had a New England flavor to it. We had turkey & dressing, ham, mashed white potatoes, sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows), green beans, wild rice and cranberry sauce made with real cranberries. Until recently, we had a plain pumpkin pie and a plain pecan pie, with vanilla ice cream.

When I got married I found out that my husband thought white rice should be served at Thanksgiving. He also included pickled peaches (his father's favorite). He did not see the point of mashed white potatoes or wild rice.

I've since met people who insist that macaroni and cheese casserole is a traditional Thanksgiving dish. I won't object to mac & cheese casserole any day.

Another part about Thanksgiving is who does the cooking. My mom used to make everything, but once we got older, each child took a specialty or two and ran with it. My brother always makes stuffing --- often two kinds. My sister makes a wonderful sweet potato casserole that I depend on every year. I make mashed potatoes with cream cheese, white cheddar, butter, and sour cream that is probably a complete meal in itself. Thanksgiving has been planned, with a little tweaking necessary, since 1985.

My mother-in-law used to make the whole dinner too. She doesn't like to cook, so she started buying the prepared meal from the Piggly Wiggly. She added the pickled peaches, of course, and a couple of other things. When my sister-in-law joined the family, she started bringing a couple of side dishes. She does like to cook, and it is always a pleasure to taste the Swedish tradition she brings to food.

My friend Perry said he wasn't sure what his family would do this year. His aunt died, and she was the last of her generation. And she used to cook the dinner by herself. The cousins were talking about experimenting with family traditions, but Perry wasn't really happy with that.

Another friend tried to scale back the food, and polled the family to see what were the MUST haves. They couldn't get rid of anything, but sweet potatoes, and they added that back because what's Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes?

I guess we do have to move on. Give up the things we don't care that much for, even if they represent something. Let other people cook in their own way. Try new things. Welcome new people.

I am tankful for diversity of taste, tradition, and outlook. I am thankful to know so many wonderful people. I am thankful to be here.

1 comment:

Yaya said...

white rice on Thanksgiving??