The Ghosts of Thanksgiving Past
Now that Thanksgiving is upon us, I am trying to prepare myself for the inevitable onslaught of carbohydrates that will soon be laid before me. And except for the turkey and maybe a salad or a green vegetable, let’s face it, Thanksgiving is a full-on carb jamboree. As if the stuffing and mac ‘n’ cheese weren’t enough, we also have two kinds of potatoes — mashed and sweet, my must-have traditional corn casserole, dinner rolls, corn muffins, and of course a ridiculous amount of desserts that go way beyond pumpkin pie.
And please, let’s not be sneaky and try to categorize pumpkin as a vegetable, because it is actually a fruit. Plus, if we’re talking about traditional pumpkin pie, by the time you add in the piecrust and the whipped cream, it’s right up there with French fries or chocolate-chip ice cream. Admittedly pumpkin pie is my day after Thanksgiving breakfast of choice, whipped cream and all. And it’s possible that I might continue to devour the whipped cream long after the pie is gone, which would explain why it is always hidden way in the back of the fridge behind all the leftovers.
The truth is, and calories aside, Thanksgiving has always been one of our family’s favorite holidays. And unless we are expecting more guests than we possibly have room for, I get irrationally disagreeable, even paranoid, according to my son. My greatest fear is that it won’t be loud enough, or crazy enough with guests vying for room in the overcrowded oven to heat up their potluck contributions, or playing musical chairs to snag a good seat. But here it is the terrible 2020, and it looks like Thanksgiving is going to be a whole new experience for us with a total 5 people instead of our usual 15 to 25 distant relatives, friends, and friends of friends.
But regardless of crowd size, the main event still remains the ceremonial spectacle of my husband carving the turkey. This means clearing an area, getting out the carving board, the turkey lifters, and the never quite sharp enough carving knives. For us it also means the absurd annual argument of how long to cook the damn bird. Even with countless cookbooks, access to endless online opinions, and the addition of basters, timers, and an over-priced wireless digital thermometer, we are still looking at what amounts to 38 years of overcooked turkeys. Bring on the gravy folks! However he does make up for it by making the world’s most amazing mashed potatoes, with guests always checking to make sure they were made by him personally. If only he didn’t decide to do his mashed potato magic at the worst possible time, when at least 5 other people are squeezed into our kitchen, all trying to do their own prep. And there we have yet another long-standing family tradition, the Thanksgiving Mashed Potato Wars — always something to look forward to!
All of my half-joking aside, and even if we are only having a total of five guests this year, I still can’t wait. While I won’t miss the very oddly out of place vegan tamales that one of our regular attendees always brings, this year our germ circle friends are sharing their family tradition of pumpkin soup, while we will introduce them to my corn casserole, and my husband’s famous mashed potatoes. It doesn’t get any better than that, and is definitely a reason to be thankful.