When I was a child Christmas was my favorite holiday, followed by Halloween and Easter. Thanksgiving was way down the list. How could a day that had me waiting all day for the chance to sit at the children’s table, which was a rickety old card table surrounded by my much younger cousins and sisters to eat a meal that was just not that good and then be told to go out into the cold Connecticut weather and rake leaves. What, no presents, no bags or baskets full of candy. How could Thanksgiving ever win?
I guess all I had to do was grow up to change my perspective on turkey day because today was about as perfect as it comes. We woke up this morning at home after getting to sleep in a little. Since I cooked all the food I was bringing yesterday it allowed me a leisurely start to the day. We packed up and went to meet our South African friends, Mark, Kelly, Cait and Adam Ushpol, who we were bringing to the farm for Thanksgiving.
There is no better offense to a family meal than bringing guests, and guests of a different nationality, with no family tradition expectations, are the best. It also helps that these guests brought an over the top amount of South African Wine to make them welcome back any time.
My Dad did an excellent job brining and cooking the turkey and the only hiccup came when Russ took the turkey, in a foil pan, out of the oven and spilled a huge amount of drippings on the floor of the kitchen. Four adults, a roll of paper towels and two Swiffers later and we were out of danger of slipping on the greasy floor and going to the emergency room in Danville were patients check in alive and out dead.
Carter was happy since the Ushpol kids are her good friends who are her age and there is never a children’s table at our Thanksgiving. The kids got to drive the four wheelers and the Kubota bus and explore the farm. Cait took a most beautiful picture of the back lake at the farm. Shay got to frolic and run in the fields as the Ushpols and Russ and I walked during the sunnier times of the day.
The dinner was fantastic. Everything was hot at the right time and no fighting took place during any part of the preparation. Mark sat next to my Dad at dinner and they shared stories of what it is like to work internationally, and even though my mother begged my father to stop talking, Mark did not seem to mind. My parents enjoyed our guests so much they asked me if we could make sure they came back to the farm again.
My mother was especially glad to have Adam come and talk football with her since all she has is daughter and a grand daughter who do not share her love of watching sports. I could not have invented a better scenario.
Sadly as evening rolled around the Ushpol’s had to get home, but we still have three more days of the perfect holiday to enjoy. No presents, no candy, no problem.
Today Carter and I were shopping and as she was trying on shoes “White Christmas” came on over the store’s Muzak system. Carter went into full on revolt. “Why are they playing that already?” she demanded. “It isn’t even close to Thanksgiving yet.”
But it is. Less than three weeks to Thanksgiving and it is a late Turkey Holiday this year falling on the twenty-eighth.
I was less disturbed by the Christmas music since I am a major Christmas lover. I was much more confused by the follow-up song of “Afternoon Delight.” I wondered what drugs that music programmer was on since I don’t find shopping delightful and it was not even afternoon.
To help calm Carter’s mood over the obvious Christmas push put on by all things retail I asked her what foods she wanted to have for Thanksgiving while we were at lunch. Discussing future meals while enjoying a current one is a favorite topic in our family. It is one that drives my mother crazy.
Carter started to list all the fattening southern foods my father is famous for making on Thanksgiving; stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, creamed onions. Carter then jumped to my pecan pie. I asked her if she wanted ice cream or whipped cream and she replied the only answer a Carter of any kind might give, “Both of course.”
My mouth was salivating thinking about the normally forbidden foods that show up at Thanksgiving. It is normally about this week of the year that I start to crave a really good turkey sandwich. Not that thin cut deli turkey, which my father hates because he says it’s slimy, but a slab of home roasted turkey with a big scoop of homemade cranberry sauce and mayonnaise on old fashioned southern white bread like Mrs. Dingle used to make at the Tip Top Inn on Pawley’s Island back in the seventies.
The worst part about craving turkey is that the real Thanksgiving bird has a hard time living up to the hype my mind has built up. I would be much better off if I would just go on and cook a turkey now and enjoy a little two weeks before the real deal so that I don’t create such huge expectations. Turkey, unto itself is a fairly healthy food, but not the accompanying items on the big day.
So now I’ve done it. Got my mouth in a turkey way with Salmon on the menu for dinner. Nothing is going to make me happy until I take care of this desire. I guess I know what tomorrows “afternoon delight” is going to be.
Here we are on the eve of the biggest eating day of the year. My childhood memories of Thanksgiving is about watching the Macy day parade on TV, not having any breakfast because we are told we are about to eat a giant meal and waiting and waiting and waiting until about 3:00 to eat what has been promised to be the best meal of the year.
By the time 3:00 rolled around we were so hungry and actually so bored from the waiting that it would not have mattered if we were being severed cardboard as long as it had gravy on it. And everything had gravy on it.
In truth I think my sisters and I liked the pillsbury crescent rolls almost the best since it was a treat reserved exclusively for thanksgiving and our parent’s dinner parties. We never got to eat at the dinner parties, but we got to have the crescent rolls for breakfast as we scavenged for food while my parents slept late after late night partying.
The big mistake about those childhood Thanksgivings was the not eating breakfast part. It was a long time from waking up until bird time and that made us throw down the stuffing like we had never had a meal before. I think that there was so much concentration by the adults on all the holiday food that they actually forgot to calculate how much more milk or eggs we needed and did not want us to consume them and thus be short for the sweet potato casserole.
This year we are having Thanksgiving at 2:00. That is a long time from the dinner I will eat tonight. My plan is to try and sleep in a little so I can eat my daily high protein Special K and raspberries at about 10:00. That will give me a four hour window before the main event. If I limit myself to one serving of the good stuff, hold back o. The potatoes and bread and eat a slice of crestless pumpkin pie I should be OK.
The potential pitfall time will be the 8:00 PM leftover-a-rama. It will be too soon for me to have made some healthy turkey soup so I’ve come up with a plan to have an arugula salad with sliced turkey and cranberry on it. Still in the theme of Thanksgiving leftovers but not button popping. The key is for me to have a plan so that I am not tempted by a new food idea. I keep reminding myself that Thanksgiving is not the eating olympics. Friday I will report if I am able not to medal in Thanksgiving.
The biggest eating holiday of the year is coming this week. I know that it is a day about giving thanks, but for most of us it is about eating and trying to get along with those you are eating with. No one likes Thanksgiving more than my Dad. He loves to cook and he loves to feed people so this is one of the days he really looks forward to.
The yesterday he called me up furious over an article in his local, no-prize-winning paper entitled the “Healthy Thanksgiving Plate.” It was written by the “community dietitian” whose mere existence I fear for if my father ever meets her. She espoused filling half your plate with low carbohydrate vegetables such as green beans, carrots, greens, broccoli, cabbage, you get the picture. Then she allows you 3 ounces of white turkey meat, no gravy, no skin, no flavor. Lastly you get half a cup of either potatoes or stuffing. She wanted you to have some apples or pears for dessert. And forget the wine.
The idea of this being a celebration made my father crazy. He got the wicked idea that I should read this menu to Carter and tell her this is what we were having for Thanksgiving, but include the good news we were not having oyster dressing at her request. With a maniacal laugh he said, “The idea of this being our meal will make Carter almost as furious as I am.”
For me I certainly don’t want to gain an ounce after working so hard to get it off, but even I think this menu is an invitation to the depression zone. Turkey, even the better tasting dark meat is not that bad for you. If you can stay away from the skin go on and eat double what this prisoner of war camp guard dietitian is suggesting.
Yes, eating healthy veggies is your best route, and frankly my stewed tomatoes are almost my favorite part of the meal, but apples or pears for dessert is no celebration. Later this week I will make my crustless pumpkin pie and put the recipe on the blog. You can still have things with the flavors of thanksgiving while not over indulging.
So don’t worry Dad, no one is expecting us to have a spa Thanksgiving, but I am going to have to bypass the Thanksgiving-meal-on-bread late night repast. One leftover-turkey sandwich for the rest of you is fine. That Gestapo dietitian didn’t mention anything about leftovers.