My parents worked ten hours a day, six days a week, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. So my Mom never cooked a turkey in her life. Cooking turkey was my job.
So I learned, early on, that a twenty-pound turkey can feed a family of five for three days, 5 lb bag of potatoes can make enough mashed potatoes to last five days, Brussels sprouts can stay where they came from and canned cranberries should be banned from human consumption. And the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving parade? I was stuck in the kitchen for two days to even enjoy it on TV.
So you say, “That’s special?”
Well, as the chief cook and bottle washer of the kitchen, literally, since the age of twelve, I tried every recipe that promised to turn my slimy and cold poultry into a moist and delectable prize so that it doesn’t choke my family. I would experiment with ‘green vegetable of the year’ so that it would not make them gag. My family had to endure so many of my culinary successes but also experiments and failures. There were perfectly browned turkeys with crispy skin with fall-off-the-bones tender meats. But then, there was the dry flaky saw-dust-like white meat that stayed on the pan and not on people plates when I forgot to turn off the oven on time. And there were the perfectly caramelized candied sweet potatoes to soggy and bland Brussels sprouts screaming for attention. And who can forget the cranberries sauce with pomegranate and currents?
But through my trials and tribulations of Thanksgiving dinners, we were always together. My family ate everything, never complaining. And we’ve had many memorable Thanksgiving dinners with various orphaned, distant family members who wouldn’t have had turkey if they didn’t come through our doorstep. One of my cousins still boasts about my Thanksgiving dinner at my house as his best turkey dinner, ever. *grin*
The Thanksgiving tradition carried over to my own family as my husband L O V E S turkey and all the trimmings. And leftover is mandatory. Turkey sandwich is absolute must as lunch the next day and I make Turkey Enchilada Casserole for dinner the next day as a tradition.
This year though, in addition to our simple Thanksgiving dinner, I’m starting a new tradition for my family. As I try to live more green and ethical life, I am adopting a turkey. No, I am not literally going to adopt a turkey and let it roam my house. I will be donating to an animal sanctuary in upstate NY. Since 1986, Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey Project has encouraged people to save a turkey at Thanksgiving through sponsorships that help the organization rescue animals and provide care for them at their sanctuaries, as well as educate and advocate for turkeys, and other farm animals, everywhere. For $25, I can adopt a turkey; get a picture of the turkey and a certificate. That would be so cool.
Why don’t you start a new tradition for giving ‘Thanks’ this year? In addition to spending time with family and thinking about what you are thankful for, try starting a new tradition.
- Adopt a turkey – a program by Farm Santuary is an organization that is dedicated to taking care of animals in need on a farm setting.
- Become a Vegetarian – Remember Leo Bababuata from Zen Habits, one of my favorite blogs about living simply? He has a step by step guide on how to become a vegetarian. Although I am mostly a vegetarian, I still can’t commit to becoming a total vegan yet. But his steps are easy to follow if you are exploring to become one.
- Buy Nothing Day – It is a Thanksgiving tradition in some households to get up at some ungodly hour on Black Friday and wait on line for hours for that special SALE. (You can’t PAY me to do that after working in the kitchen for two days.) Although this slumping economy needs our spending spree, think about your budget and evaluate what you really need to buy this holiday. I heard some ludicrous statistics that we contribute to over 2 billion dollars on wasted commerce. In other words, over 2 billions dollars is spend on merchandise that recipients do not like. So, don’t waste your money. Think carefully before you buy that cashmere sweater for Aunt Milly. Does she need another cashmere sweater or would she simply like a handmade picture frame with a picture of your sweet family?
What tradition do you have for Thanksgiving? What tradition would you like to start this year?