Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving

I don’t think that dour little band of pilgrims back in 1621 represents the cradle of American civilization. They were a sanctimonious cult that totally irritated first the English (easily done) then the Dutch (you have to work at that one). Maybe they stayed on in America simply because they didn’t understand the Abnaki words for “Go home.”

One thing about the Pilgrims, though, I approve of their menu and their holiday.

Today, in second grade pageants across the country, little girls in floppy cloth caps will be telling little boys in construction paper hats, “Speak for yourself, John Alden.” Then an out of tune piano will strike up Over the River and Through the Woods. (Yes, I checked with my friend who has two small kids. This is still all the rage.) And what the kids lack in perfect pitch, they’ll make up for in volume.

Tomorrow, it’s time to put olives on the tip of each finger and wait for the other families to arrive. When I was a child, the women blew in through the front door on a cloud of fur and perfume and laughing voices. The men wore suits -- but they’d get more interesting as the night wore on.

And when we sat down for dinner, there were two tables: one for adults, one for children. My dad would bring out the turkey on a trolley, and make quite a show of carving – all flashing knives and perfectly shaped pieces of dark and light meat. Oddly, he never used the electric knife my sister and I gave him one Christmas. I guess the batteries were dead or something.

The children’s table would get watered-down wine, and in addition to everything else, the drumsticks, the wings, and the wishbone.

I always won the wishbone pull. Am I the only one who ever cheated at that? Probably.

Happy Thanksgiving.

35 comments:

  1. The way you write about food always makes me hungry! Happy Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  2. O lucky European! Watered down wine? We of the Baptist persuasion grew up with dry festivities. I think it is my calling to compensate for a few generations of surreptitious drinkers.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A wonderful memory.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm sure you're not watering down the wine anymore;) Happy Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  5. As far back as I can remember, my parents gave me full strength wine with every holiday meal. I hated it; I wanted the chocolate instead. And I still don't drink, because I still prefer the sweet stuff. Happy memories, and Happy Thanksgiving, Karin!

    ReplyDelete
  6. The old European trick of making sure the children would go to bed early that night.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I guess you’ll include the pumpkins and prunes with that turkey.
    I know you have some clusters of tomatoes to celebrate this year.

    Happy Thursday tomorrow.

    D.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ah, the children's table. I was an adult before I ever was seated at one. (At my parent's house, everyone sat together.)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It's all about gathering with the family, an all day affair where the turkey cooking in the oven creates scents that provides anticipation for what's to come later in the day while bringing back wonderful memories of holidays past. Now that I have children and grandchildren, all of whom have extended families due to marriages and divorces, Thanksgiving is a chore for them with too many invitations and not enough time, or stomach capacity, to handle the day. Several years ago MsDubya and I started a new tradition where we celebrate Thanksgiving one week early. We get the family for all day and no one's burned out on turkey. It's a relaxing, fun way to celebrate what we are thankful. Then, the Ms and I go away for Thanksgiving weekend while the kids race from house to house.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think the parents were trying to drug us into early sleep.

    You under 10 feet of snow won't agree, but I love this early winter.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yipee, Pepe has a new home just in time for the holidays! Three cheers to the family that adopted him. As for Thanksgiving, my memory is rather vague about childhood celebrations, but I look forward to eating lots of good food tomorrow and drinking full-strength wine. And if there's a wishbone pull, I'll be sure to cheat to win in your honor.

    ReplyDelete
  12. As a mom who just last week watched her daughter's first kindergarten pagaent -- I can vouch. Yes, they wear floppy caps with the boys in pilgrim hats. "This land is your land" was sung. Also a hippie/dippie wonderful "5 Little Turkeys are We" song where they all escaped Thanksgiving fate by flying away and the cook had to make pumpkin pie instead. My heart broke a little, in a wonderful way, for Little Bit's first shared feast with her little friends. She made a Native American feather necklace writing what she was thankful for (Mommy and Daddy. Awww!) and found out that corn was once called maize.

    Today, we made our traditional turkey sugar cookies. The dough was weird this year and swelled to almost twice its size, so the cookies are almost actual turkey sized. Tomorrow it's the big Allee/Nakano/Yasuda family gathering. I'm in charge of the salad, the wild rice and the pumpkin soup.

    There is something lovely about sharing a meal, even a revisionist one, and remembering what we love and what the year has brought.

    I'm getting entirely too sentimental.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Have you made those peacock cookies yet, Laurie?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Olives on the fingers = my sister, every year
    Making up for it with volume = me, still today
    Have a happy one!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Peacock cookies made! And turkey cookies and pilgrim hat cookies and cookies with pictures of corn. I mean maize.

    (Took most of the afternoon.)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Save me one of those peacock cookies!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love the olives on the fingers remembrance. I'm sure I did it, but would never think of it.

    I think your dad shunned the electric carving knife for reasons that had nothing to do with batteries and everything to do with machismo.

    You know the Pilgrims and Native Americans probably didn't eat turkey. Most likely eel was the main course. Think about the implications of that for our school pageants and presidential pardons.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karin.

    WV:exalther. And I do.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh Ron, you crack me up. I don't think the electric knife was ever a possibility. I just wish I could remember my dad's face when he first unwrapped it. Years, years of excuses.

    WV: Squaleen. "Hey Dad, where's the Hamilton Beach knife? Want me to get it?"

    ReplyDelete
  19. I remember going to my aunt's house when I was a young girl and there were tables in every room to accomadate the crowd of relatives. My mother told us to not eat the green beans before we even set foot in the door because they were canned and we might get sick. Oh the memories we carry with us into old age!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanksgiving? What's that? For us Brits, it's just Xmas dinner without the lit-brandy pudding and presents. But I think that's really nice - there's far less strain when you don't have to wrap all the presents the night before.

    So Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think Mr. Earl is right. Real men use a carving knife, sharpened on a steel while standing over the bird. Electric carving knives came out in the 60's. Everyone had one, but nobody used them more than a few times - sort of like a George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine.

    WV: shicatid - what happens after eating too much Thanksgiving turkey

    ReplyDelete
  22. My father had a whetstone in a hand-made wooden box. He brought it out at Thanksgiving every year and sharpened his turkey carving knife while we all watched and admired. It's my fondest Thanksgiving memory. The whetstone, in its box, is one of the few things of his that I have. His birthday was always around Thanksgiving time.

    ReplyDelete
  23. what a great post Karin!
    One olive on each finger, what kid hasn't done that? My granddaughter that's who! She hates 'em...
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
  24. There's a way to cheat at wishbone pulling? I feel very naive sometimes. Happy Thanksgiving, KB. I'm grateful for so many things, not the least Pepe's new home. Thank you for being you.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yeah, the two-table arrangement is classic Americana. But I sure had no desire to sit with the (boring) adults. Did you? As for competitive wishbone breaking, paired with your recent comments about tennis here and at my place . . . I'm never pitching pennies with you, kid--somehow it would mean the end of my IRA.

    Sorry, but I've never heard of the olive-fingers ritual.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is the song my children learned:
    Gobble, gobble, gobble,
    Fat turkeys, fat turkeys.

    Gobble, gobble, gobble,
    Fat turkeys are we.

    They'll stuff you and baste you,
    and then they'll all baste you,

    Gobble, gobble, gobble,
    Fat turkeys are wel.

    ReplyDelete
  27. That's, uh, beautiful, Margaret. (Wishbone cheating: Maybe I'll tell you the secret sometime, and maybe I won't.)

    ReplyDelete
  28. My dad used a whetstone too Petrea!!! Wish I still had it, my knives could use a good sharpening!

    I agree with DB about Thanksgiving being one of my favorite holidays for all the same reasons...I have to add though that this year, the kids and grandkids are all here on Thanksgiving proper...something about being able to come to Mammoth for several days and maybe snowboard???

    Thank you, Karin, for keeping us all entertained and stretching our thinking caps all year long...and for helping "our" Pepe find his new home!!! You rock!!!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Being among the youngest of the gathering family, I spent many years at the children's table. Happy Thanksgiving AH!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wishbone cheating: Yeah, it's like playing tic tac toe. If you know what you're doing, you'll always win.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I am truly bummed that I don't know how to cheat a wishbone.

    If you cheat one, does your wish still come true?

    ReplyDelete
  32. The wishbone is like many things, when you look closely at the situation, you find it's not all it's cracked up to be.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hiker, you crack me up. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I just had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner...it's been 15 years since I last had one and it made me wish the pilgrims had come to Japan as well :-)

    Love your post as always! Happy belated Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete