Thursday, November 24, 2005

Nontraditional (and Cranky About It)

Had I gone back to Chicago to have the “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner at my dad’s house, here’s what would have been served up to me:
  • Butterball turkey (frozen)
  • Gravy (reconstituted from a mix in a paper packet)
  • Stuffing (from a box)
  • Mashed potatoes (instant)
  • Sweet potato casserole (with burnt marshmallows on top)
  • Green bean casserole (frozen green beans, cream of mushroom soup, canned mushroom odds and ends, and Durkee fried onion bits)
  • Pillsbury dinner rolls (cracked open from a tube)
  • Cranberry gel (from a can)
  • Pumpkin pie with canned whipped topping (both from the supermarket)
  • Riesling wine (sickeningly sweet)
Instead, I went to a Thanksgiving potluck given by some friends of ours. In the following (unorthodox) order—over the course of several hours—I consumed:
  • Spanakopita
  • Baba ghanouj and pita bread (my contribution to the feast)
  • Pastitsio
  • Greek salad
  • Dolma
  • Spanakopita (a different kind from the first kind)
  • Baklava (homemade and awesome)
  • Tiramisu (ditto)
  • Pumpkin pie (very tiny sliver with even tinier blop of Cool Whip)
  • Lamb
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Ouzo
Is it any wonder I opted to stay in Portland? I have to say I do not care for the so-called traditional Thanksgiving meal. For one thing it’s a far cry from what the Pilgrims actually ate in 1621. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, they probably had wild goose or duck. And guess what? The Indians showed up uninvited, but since they brought venison, fish, eels, shellfish, and beer, the Pilgrims graciously decided not to kill them.

I know lots of people love the not-at-all-traditional Thanksgiving meal. And I have no doubt that many people (Jamie springs to mind) prepare a much tastier and wholesome version of it than my dad does.* The problem is: I detest turkey. I feel that mashing potatoes is the very worst way to prepare them. And with the exception of the Pillsbury rolls, nothing else on the menu does a thing for me. It mystifies me when people act shocked or feel sorry for me because I didn’t have a "traditional" Thanksgiving. I’d just prefer not to eat food I don’t like and participate in a phony tradition—that’s all.

Anyway, I had a happy Thanksgiving. And because I avoided turkey, I’m wide awake, blogging away in a chipper fashion and ready to move right on to a marathon novel-writing session. How many people that partook of turkey can say that? Nevertheless, I hope everyone else who celebrated Thanksgiving enjoyed it as much as I did, and that if you did the turkey/mashed potatoes/pumpkin pie thing, that the meal you ate was less pummeled and processed than my dad’s rendition of it.

Tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day. I plan to observe it. Last year, I went on and on (ad nauseum) about how bothered I am by the mad spending binge that starts tomorrow and rages out-of- control throughout December until it crashes into Christmas. If possible, I feel even more sickened by it this year, and it hasn't even started yet. It irks me to hear news stories speculating about how much spending will be done this year and making the spurious claim that if people aren’t out there buying up a shitload of crap, it will be “bad” for the economy. I don’t get it. Someone please explain to me how it benefits individuals and society as a whole for people to go out and rack up ever greater amounts of credit card debt purchasing useless and meaningless items such as a “talking comedy calculator,” “a tiki head tissue box cover,” or an electric garlic roaster? I could go on.

This is my least favorite time of year.

*We’ve tried to ratchet up the quality of the meal from time to time. For example, we’ve made real cranberry relish from fresh cranberries, but my dad will have none of it. He wants his slices of jiggley maroon gel with the can marks impressed into them. Go figure.


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