Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Irony of Thanksgiving

First, let me state that I'm using the term "irony" in the sense that we, as a society, seem to take one day out of each year to focus on gratitude and what we're thankful for, when it's really something we should at least consider on a daily basis. This may or may not actually be the definition of "irony". However, at this point during the day, I really don't care if I'm using the word improperly. Granted, for the other 364 days of the year I am a grammar snob, but today I am cutting myself some slack. I hope you are generous enough to do the same.
Do I have people, events, relationships, food, shelter, finances and a career to be thankful for? Of course I do. Do I daily acknowledge gratitude for all of them? Of course I don't, and I'm willing to bet that most of you reading this don't either.
That's the irony of Thanksgiving. Why do we wait until the fourth Thursday in November to acknowledge all that we've been blessed with? I have no idea who established that the fourth Thursday of November be designated as "Thanksgiving Day" and I'm really not interested in that bit of trivia. Having lived in Boston for two years, having visited Plymouth Rock and having been raised on the fairy tale that "the first Thanksgiving" was all about the Pilgrims and the Indians coming together to celebrate the fact that the English settlers somehow miraculously survived a year in this foreign land, that Native Americans survived the diseases that the British brought with them, and apparently there was enough food to feed both groups of people, I wonder how that is related to the way we currently celebrate Thanksgiving.
Today I made a turkey, mashed potatoes, andouille sausage & corn bread stuffing, green bean casserole, lemon and parsley artichoke hearts and a chocolate and peppermint layer cake. Outside of the turkey and maybe the potatoes, my contemporary meal displays little resemblance to what was likely served in Plymouth, MA several hundred years ago. Last year I made fry bread, a traditional Native American food which my great-grandmother (who was Native American, as am I, although I am a much more diluted version of such) called "hounds ears." They did not turn out well. Actually, they were pretty nasty compared the fry bread I've previously eaten. But I made a feeble attempt to represent at least something related to the Native Americans who lived in Wisconsin and Massachusetts before the landing of Christopher Columbus, the Mayflower and those who settled Chesapeake Bay in 1620.
Why am I so cynical this Thanksgiving? I'm not entirely sure, although I'm fairly certain it has something to do with the fact that I made the above mentioned meal and no one showed up for dinner at 1pm on Broad Street today. Due to illness, lack of communication and a plain old disagreement, I started baking this meal on Wednesday and began the bulk of the cooking this morning at 7am, as always, by myself. Which is not something I mind; good grief another person in my kitchen would drive me insane "trying to help me" which is my understanding of how most chefs feel toward unsolicited "help" on major cooking days. So basically I've got a shit-load of food that no one's going to eat.
As I'm writing this I'm watching "Lizzie Borden Took an Ax" on the Lifetime Network. I don't even want to get into what Freud would think of that, but rest assured I'm in no way homicidal. I'm just a little disappointed and a lot disillusioned about what Thanksgiving is all about this year.

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