Thanksgiving is just about here, and as the far-flung family and cohort of friends pack their bags to travel to their table of choice, no matter how far away, the anticipation grows for this great holiday and reunion.
The glow of good memories of happy moments, and the lure of enjoying a big spread of food with people you know oh so well, and their friends, parents or relations, draws most people back, despite any misgivings over how it will really all pan out, misgivings over spending too much time in airports or in long lines of traffic on the highways.
The hosts, or the local collection of hosts, who long before shared out the responsibility for the main dishes on the menu, who will cook or bring the crucial elements to the table, are also getting either concerned or confident in their allotted task as they do a trial run perhaps on pies, and gravy. But the big one, the centrepiece is the one that has to be got right on first try. For this Thursday is the rare day of the year when we actually get down to cooking a large, even a very large, turkey. The happy task usually goes to the most experienced, or if there is the vital succession plan in place, the new apprentice is working beside the elders. Of course, there are also the kitchens where a whole new tradition is about to begin, where the new cook or cooks are about to embark on their own adventure with the help of phone calls, pouring over the thousands of internet pages which claim the perfect technique or simply the old recipe book or notes. It will all work out, with a beautiful big turkey being proudly brought to the table.
As the roast turkey, the symbol of this special holiday dinner, occupies the centre of the table, so too the minor, but absolutely necessary dishes that no Thanksgiving meal would be complete without take up the rest of the table. Prepared and brought out by their proud cooks, even from the happy chaos of the same kitchen, comes the corn on the cob, the beans, the mashed or not potatoes, the best cranberry sauce that you will say you have ever tasted, and the all-important gravy with the stuffing created to the secret family recipe which everyone shares. The feast is not complete without the best part, the sweet stuff, both the pumpkin and apple pies along with any other chocolate concoctions which the kids made.
To carry the gathering to more social activities not around food, do you choose between watching TV, watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade, or the Football, or is it both? Surely a light game of football in the back yard amongst a few family members would be a great idea, while the others settle down to a board-game, or the more challenging card games, where the challenge is not so much counting cards, but not seeing the other cards!
As it all happens, there is the beauty and necessity of well stocked ice boxes and refrigerators and cellars. For surely all the excellent food deserves the complementary excellent drinks, from the introduction punch to the shared bottle of good red while giving thanks, giving heartfelt gratitude for not only another uneventful, but memorable Thursday holiday.
Don’t forget that there is a fifth! A fifth Thursday will fall this November! We almost need our wine glass swirls to remind us which week Thanksgiving falls in, and how many days shopping after Black Friday before Christmas. Happy Thanksgiving!