I’ve always thought Thanksgiving was a pretty nice holiday—not as good as say, Flag Day (otherwise known as my birthday), but solid nonetheless. Anything centered around food is good in my book, but Thanksgiving has truly quality foods: turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing (though I didn’t come around on this until later), pie, and my favorite, rolls with cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce was the first sign of Thanksgiving in the Russell household—my mom would wake up early and together we would cook real cranberries with sugar, watching them pop and bubble, then pour the sauce into my grandmother’s ornate glass bowl to cool. The bowl is only used twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and only for cranberry sauce. Between dinner and dessert, we all bundle up and take a walk down the street, which I complain about bitterly, but how often do we take walks with our family? These are the kinds of things that, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to love about Thanksgiving, to the point where it may even overcome my only child tendencies to become my favorite holiday (it’s close). The traditions, the care, the love, the focus on the good things in life, and of course the food—these are why Thanksgiving beats out other holidays for me.
I think living abroad helped cement Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday. I thought I would be lonely, as I had only previously associated it with my family (i.e., me and my parents), but having Thanksgiving with my friends and cooking for 12 was a whole new experience. The first year I had help from my two very assimilated roommates, but the second year with my friend Julia was the adventure. Asking the butcher for “un tacchino entero” [an entire turkey] and having him bring out a package of lunchmeat before flapping my arms to make myself understood. Making my boyfriend drive me around for two hours trying to find sweet potatoes. Realizing the turkey in the Italian oven had been on “broil” instead of “bake” for the past two hours, so we had an undercooked turkey and imminent guests, necessitating extremely long-distance calls to Mom for advice. But in the end, the thing that mattered most happened: serving food and sharing a meal with people I love.
This is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s so perfectly simple. You don’t have to buy gifts, send cards, stress out about decorations or costumes, or worry about religious-correctness. Companies can’t sell you anything, other than food. You just have to eat and be around people that you love. Sometimes it’s a time for making new friends—I see the generosity and humanity of the holiday every year on Facebook, people opening their home so “orphans” can have a good meal. Thanksgiving is still on even if you totally screw up some of the cooking, first of all because there are so many dishes that losses can be covered, but moreover because the point is to spend time together, having old-fashioned conversations around a table and taking the time to be thankful for what you have.
My love for Thanksgiving is probably why I find Black Friday almost offensive. I hate that some stores are staffed starting at 6 a.m. the day of Thanksgiving, or that people are camping out to buy a TV—meaning that both shoppers and employees are away from the family table. It’s become a giant circus of commercialism so close to a holiday that isn’t about any of that. Thanksgiving is a day when you are supposed to be thankful for the things and people that you have in your life, not a day greedily lusting for more—except perhaps a second helping of pie.
I know that Thanksgiving is hard for many people: If your family has drama, if you have issues with food, or if you feel lonely, you may be dreading this day. To that I say, remember the spirit of the holiday. In the words of the immortal RuPaul, sometimes you get to make your family. Thanksgiving is an exercise in positivity and generosity. Be thankful for what is keeping you alive, and take some time to reflect on the good things in your life over delicious food. And be sure to say “Thank you” to those who mean something to you.
Have a happy Thanksgiving, darlings. We love you.[divider] [/divider]
What do you love most about Thanksgiving? Tweet us @litdarling.
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