Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. You don’t get any nasty religious vs. secular fights; you don’t have to worry that your friend is going to show up with a gift wrapped turkey for you and you didn’t even buy her a sweet potato; the menu is basically set. It just doesn’t have the baggage and drama of other holidays (I’m talkin’ to YOU Christmas!). The only real requirement is that you count your blessings which is a rather enjoyable exercise. In fact, for Primary one year I invented “Gratitgories” (similar to Scategories) which in addition to being a fun way of talking about blessings is also competitive and placates those relatives that NEED to win, even in giving thanks. Here’s what you do: down the left side of a piece of paper write either THANKS or GRATITUDE and then have everyone write a word that starts wtih each letter, ie “trees” after T. You get one point for each unique answer. So if Aunt Sue also put down “trees,” no one gets a point. Try that at your table.
Here are my Gratigory answers: T-“The Good Wife,” that makes all the drama in my life disappear for an hour each week; H-Harry Potter, that provides endless examples for my kids of how to navigate life; A-Angela, my dear sister who is always happy to listen to my ramblings; N-nutella, the chocolatey hazelnutty spread that my kids adore that has a long shelf-life so even if the deli meat has gone bad, they can still make a sandwich; K-kitty, my furry pet that adores me like no one else (I secretly call him Meowster Darcy); S-the Savior who truly is my Friend and helps me have a grateful heart even when my life is a mess.
And here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving memories:
-Our first year in Phoenix, my husband’s grandparents Jean & Larry came from Denver. I awoke on Thanksgiving morning to find half the contents of my fridge on the counter and when I opened the fridge, EVERY BOWL I owned was in there, filled to the brim with jello. Strawberry jello with walnuts and cranberries and shredded carrots and cans of fruit cocktail. It was my worst nightmare but I could not stop laughing. This has happened to me every holiday we do with Grandma Jean. She is a jello junkie.
-The year we were in China was a wonderful feast. There was no turkey readily available (turkey in Chinese is “fire chicken” btw) so one of our students whose parents had a meat business told us they could locate a turkey. They showed up with gizzards and maybe a wing. Luckily we had also roasted chickens. My family always had lemon meringue but there’s no lemons in Northern China. So we made an orange meringue pie. Dave and I were so sore after making that pie. We had to whip the duck egg whites by hand for AGES to get it stiff as we were without an electric mixer. Our British friends hosted the event and had a huge banner up that read: “Merrie Thanksgiving all Ye Colonists!”
A few years back my husband discovered that squirrel were tasty and plentiful and added that as a side dish. I will not show the pictures I have because they make me queasy. Instead I’ll share a picture from the year we dressed our gerbils up in Thanksgiving attire. No rodents were eaten.
So go be thankful and overeat and shop or nap or whatever makes you happy. As long as your heart is grateful you can get away with just about anything.
What are you grateful for this year?