Thanksgiving.  A day that comes attached with so many memories of family gatherings and food.  I am often playing the reel of past Thanksgivings in my head as the holiday meal is prepared. 

  Every dish served is chosen for its significance to our family’s historical record.  Often times, I use the exact recipes and processes to prepare the food, as did my parents and my grandparents.   As if, by keeping the traditions, I can keep the memories intact.   
  I recently came across a journal where I had jotted down the happenings of a Thanksgiving long passed.  It made me smile.  It went something like this…

  Our Thanksgiving meal requires two chefs.  One chef is responsible for the Turkey.  This person has the awesome task of making sure the Turkey goes into the oven and comes back out at the appropriate time.  This person cannot, during the course of the day, engage in any activity which might distract them from the Herculean effort that being the Turkey Chef imbues.  They cannot sit through an entire quarter of football without hopping up to check the “Bird” as it is affectionately known.  This Turkey Chef will cut short endless conversations (which in themselves are pursuits of fancy as everyone standing around all day waiting for a Turkey to cook, rarely has anything meaningful to say) to stride purposefully to the kitchen to refresh their beer, offhandedly glance at the oven, and check their watch, as if to reaffirm to themselves and anyone else present, that they are, in fact, the Turkey Chef.  We call this person, Dad.
  The other chef, Mom, is responsible for everything else.
  One year a decision was made to enlarge the dining room table’s capacity by engineering a sort of false top that would attach in a secure fashion to the actual table top and would increase the available surface space by at least 50%.  This would alleviate the need to leave trays in the kitchen and we could all eat our meal without having to pop up every time someone needed a refill.  Brilliant!
  The Turkey Chef (aka Dad) was in charge of assembling the new table appendage.  In a true act of showmanship, Dad waited until Thanksgiving Day to begin the process of calculations and design that would ultimately become the new table top.  While he was a flurry of activity, Mom was all atwitter about who was going to watch the Bird and why does he always have to do things at the last minute? 
  Dad was truly in his element.  He measured, cut, hammered, and cut some more.  The onlookers (the rest of the family),   were taking bets on when this dining table masterpiece could reasonably be expected to emerge from the workshop.  It was at last unveiled, the crowd audibly hushed and in awe, around midnight.  We gamely assisted in getting the unwieldy piece of apparatus attached to the table and with a flourish Dad announced to Mom, “We’re ready!”

  Dad was fearless.  Mom was tolerant.  In a crazy way, somehow it worked.
  These days, the pressure to streamline, cut back and rework our daily lives and celebrations, is real and palpable.  Do we really need all of those fat laden, over the top dishes and desserts in order to celebrate our national holiday?  Technically, no.  Are traditions really just acts of sanctioned waste and excess?  Probably.  Will you see me jumping on the bandwagon to serve up an anemic meal to a bored crowd who are anxious to be somewhere else?  NO WAY. 
  I realize there are people who are suffering, the planet is struggling, and we must all do our part to clean up the damage we have done to our society and our world.  I get it.  But our traditions are more than just acts of excess.  They are a way to keep the memories of loved ones near and dear to our hearts, even when they can no longer be with us.  Sorry folks, some things just shouldn’t be tampered with.

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