Tag Archive | thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Links (ritual sacrifice, with pie edition)

“Hurray, I'm Gay, it's Happy Thanksgiving Day! How's that for a holiday family outing?”

(click to embiggen)

In the U.S. it’s Thanksgiving, a day which most of us were taught in school was to commemorate a peaceful feast between the the Pilgrims and their neighboring Native Americans. Of course, we are also taught in school the equally false notion that the pilgrims came to the America from England looking for religious freedom, when in fact what they came to do was establish a theocracy—they fled England because the folks back home wouldn’t let them persecute neighbors who worshipped very slightly differently than they did. So while the Native Americans whose land the Pilgrims were squatting on did occasionally meet and break bread with the colonists—and have to teach them how to farm since most didn’t know how and so forth—the traditional Thanksgiving story is a myth.

Being raised in evangelical fundamentalist churches, I was also taught that it was a religious holiday (after all, who would we be saying “thanks” to, right?), though there isn’t really anything very holy about what the European colonists did to either the Native Americans nor the environment we found here.

Anyway as Anya observed in that one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “To commemorate a past event you kill and eat an animal. A ritual sacrifice… with pie.” And I have to admit that the past events I am commemorating are the holidays spent with extended family back when all my grandparents and most of the great-grandparents were still alive. Which is why one of the dishes I’m cooking and serving today in sweet potatoes with heavy cream, molasses, and pepper… as close to how Great-grandma used to make it as I can get.

Since a lot of my bookmarked stories this week don’t really make sense to include in tomorrow’s Friday Five, in case you need something to read today, here are some Thanksgiving Links:

(click to embiggen)

Here’s What Your Part Of America Eats On Thanksgiving.

This Is How Long Thanksgiving Leftovers Actually Last .

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner Menu .

It wasn’t just an episode of a sitcom, this community actually through turkeys out of planes at their annual festival: Tossing a Bird That Does Not Fly Out of a Plane: A Thanksgiving story about the limits of human empathy.

Why First Nations People Regard America’s Thanksgiving Day as a National Day of Mourning.

And let me remind you: don’t jump the gun on Christams!

"Slow down!! Let's eat the damn turkey first!"

(MemeGenerator.Net Click to embiggen)

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We are supposed to be giving thanks, after all

“Have a gay ol' Thanksgiving”

Click to embiggen

Last weekend I was at Costco with a medium-sized list of things we needed that are cheapest there. One of those items was a small turkey. In the past when we’ve been trying to make dinner for just the two of us, we’ve had trouble finding a turkey that wasn’t gigantic. One reason is that back at the old place while we had two refrigerators with freezer compartments, both were standard apartment-sized things so didn’t have a place to keep a turkey frozen for any length of time. So we’d wait until it was nearly the holiday and by then most grocery stores only had the largest sizes left. Then last year Michael discovered that Costco stocks a much wider variety of sizes of turkeys than most grocery stores, which was very handy.

Now this year we do have our small chest freezer, so storing a big bird is possible—but we had to start making an effort a bit over a week ago to cook dinners exclusively from things in the freezer and refrain from buying freezable-things we found on sale at the grocery store until we made enough room in the freezer for the turkey.

But I digress… I was looking for a small turkey, when I heard a voice nearby say, “Isn’t it a bit to early to be buying a turkey?” The person wasn’t talking to me, but rather to the woman who was with him. It appeared to be a small family of like a grandpa, grandma, a mom, and two children, and the grandpa-looking guy was the one questioning their search of the turkey bins. The subsequent conversation was quite amusing to overhear: grandma and mom told him Thanksgiving was just five days away, he argued, the kids got involved. He was absolutely certain that Thanksgiving is always the last Thursday in November. One of them had to show him their calendar on their phone before he believed then that Thanksgiving was this week. Then he said something along the lines that he had a lot less time to get the house ready for everyone coming over.

Anyway, I wasn’t quite as bad as he was, but it was just a week previous that both Michael and I had been shocked to realize Thanksgiving was less then two weeks away. It wasn’t that we didn’t know the holiday was the fourth Thursday, simply we didn’t quite realize that much of the month was already gone.

Tomorrow it is just the two of us for Thanksgiving. Despite trying to keep the menu small, I know we will have way too much food. Still, I’m looking forward to my turkey and stuffing and sweet potato pie and all the rest. And I’m feeling quite a bit less gloomy this year than the previous two holiday seasons. Many things in the world are still very messed up, but there is more than a glimmer of hope, now.

So, here are things I’m thankful for:

  • my smart, kind, sexy, super capable, funny husband
  • the people who turned out and voted bue
  • coffee
  • purple
  • books
  • science
  • people who laugh and fill the world with joy
  • sci fi books that tell of wonderful futures
  • people who help other people
  • people—often from segments of society who are always told they don’t matter/should listen to their betters/et cetera—who ran for office large and small this year
  • beautiful misty grey mornings
  • people who make art or stories or music
  • music
  • NaNoWriMo writing buddies
  • cocktails
  • modern medical science
  • people who love
  • living in the future
  • tweety birds and kittens and puppies and tigers and otters
  • flowers
  • people who keep striving in spite of it all
  • stuffing
  • my crazy, sometimes infuriating relatives who probably find me even more bewildering than I ever do them
  • not having to spend the holiday with (especially) the most infuriating relatives again this year
  • my sweet, clever, mega-competent, long-suffering husband (who definitely deserves to be on this list twice!)
  • music
  • gravy
  • all my wonderful friends—who are talented, kind, giving, and clearly the most patient people in the world, because they put up with me even at my most dickish

Thank you, each and every one. And whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or not, I hope you have a wonderful day full of blessings, because you deserve it

What are you serving, what are you talking about, and what are you avoiding during the holidays?

"Hello, member of my extended ! Good to see you, it's been too long. No, I'm not in med school anymore. I'm an opthalmologist. No, that's not an optometrist. I do eye surgery. I know, sounds kind of gross doesn't it? Sorry to hear about your vague eye ailment. You should see an eye doctor. Sorry to hear about your vague medical ailment. You should see your doctor. Sorry to hear about your friend's vague physical ailment. They should see their doctor. Yes, I go a flu shot. You should get one, too."

Being shared on Twitter with the explanation, “Instead of having the same conversation over and over this Thanksgiving, I’ll be handing this out.” (click to embiggen)

Back when I was blogging on LiveJournal, about this time every year I would post a survey about what sorts of side dishes and pies and so forth that people like to serve at Thanksgiving, if they celebrated. And I used to get lots of respondents. I’ve tried it a few times on this blog but got far fewer participants, so it doesn’t seem to be worth the effort of constructing a new survey. This image of a printed list of answers to all the questions that come up again and again at one person’s family meals gave me a chuckle, and reminded me of certain topics and questions that come up at my family gatherings any time that there is more than just Mom there.

I don’t have to deal with that sort of thing this week because we’re staying home again this year. And I had a lot less of it to deal with last year because we stayed home for both holidays. I drove down twice during the season to see folks and drop off Christmas presents, so I did see a lot of the extended family, but it’s different when you aren’t sitting in one place for a long time either waiting for food to cook, or more people to arrive, or whatever.

Anyway, if I were to do something like this letter, it might go something like this:

Hello, cousin/aunt/cousin-in-law I only see at holiday gatherings! It’s been too long!

As a matter of fact, no, I don’t technically live in Seattle any more, I’ve moved to a small suburb called Shoreline.

No, I still take the bus to work. It’s only four miles further from the office than my old place. I would love to talk about our new neighborhood and all the things I’m growing in my–

Yes, I am still working in the same part of the telecommunications industry that I have been for the past 31 years.

Yes, you actually use the stuff we do every day. Our products are the servers that figure out where you phone is anytime you use maps, or need to call 9-1-1, and so forth.

I’m sorry to hear about your vague problem with your very cheap Android so-called smart phone that is almost certainly running a very outdated version of Android and is loading with bloatwear. I don’t do Android. At all. I’m an Apple user.

No, that is not an iPhone. It has the name of another company printed right there in very large type. I’m sorry the salesperson at the place you went to get a cheaper phone than you could buy from your carrier (after two other cheap phones died on you this year) lied to you. You should probably go somewhere else next time.

I’m sorry to hear about your vague computer problem on your super cheap very old Windows machine that is probably infested with more malware than actual software. Can’t really help you, as I said, I’m a Mac user. You should probably stop taking it to that guy who runs the combination Pawn Shop/Smoke Shop/Computer Repair Shop and go to the place my husband recommended last year.

Yes, I voted. No, I really don’t think we should talk about it.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do still believe that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, just like his birth certificate said. And no, I’m not at all glad he’s gone. I’m really sad that voter suppression and Russian interference put a person who lost the popular vote into office.

Yes, yes, I completely agree we should change the topic. Did you see the Seahawks game two weeks ago?

Since the form of this thing is a flier you could hand out to people, I decided to leave out the many times that I wind up sitting very tight-lipped awkwardly listening to someone try to explain away some real world news with very very mangled Bible references. Or the latest quack medicine/magical Bible cure someone is trying for their vague physical ailments.

At least for the last five or six years everyone has realized that talking about anything related to their opposition to gay rights or transgender people isn’t a good idea. Please note that I have been out of the closet for over 26 years and they have all met (and all seem to really like) my husband who has been coming down with me to these things for 20 years, but it took this long to decide that maybe telling us some of those things to our faces isn’t polite dinner conversation.

I am going to miss not getting a taste of Mom’s Mistake Salad (it’s a concoction of pistachio pudding and pineapple and whipped cream and I don’t remember what, that seems to contain about a million grams of sugar per spoonful, so I can literally only have a few bites, but dang it is so, so, so good!) or share and compare anyone’s attempt at making Grandma’s Frozen Cranberry Salad—for a long time we thought the recipe was lost, so several of us came up with versions of our own; Mom found an index card with the official recipe hiding in one of Grandma’s photo albums. And then when she made it, it wasn’t quite what any of us remembered, confirming our suspicion that she did never made it the same way twice.

Since it is just the two of us, Michael and I are cooking a small turkey. We’ll have stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, my Great-grandma’s creamy savory sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce, and a relish tray that will have enough pickled foods and olives to feed about 30 people.

Oh! And I plan to make the Fiery Thanksgiving Manhattan again: Rye bourbon, sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and Tillen Farms’ Fire and Spice Maraschino Cherries. It will be divine!

Trying to remember to be thankful

“This is Chef. Chef's been cooking since four this morning. You better be hungry. Happy Thanksgiving.” © Don Chooi  http://dchooidoodles.tumblr.com

“This is Chef. Chef’s been cooking since four this morning. You better be hungry. Happy Thanksgiving.”
© Don Chooi
http://dchooidoodles.tumblr.com

The point of the holiday is supposed to be to remember the things in our lives we have to be thankful for. And normally I’m all over that. But I would be lying if I said that everything is wonderful and I have great hopes for the future. And I know that I am hardly the only person struggling to remember that the world is full of good things as well as all the crazy, awful, and so forth that we’re all enduring right now.

So, here are things I’m thankful for:

  • my smart, sweet, sexy, super capable, long-suffering husband
  • coffee
  • the many cute birds that visit my bird feeder every day
  • purple
  • sci fi books that tell of wonderful futures
  • people who help other people
  • flowers
  • people who make art
  • science
  • my crazy, sometimes infuriating relatives who probably find me even more bewildering than I ever do them
  • not having to spend the holiday with (especially) the most infuriating relatives this year
  • cocktails
  • people who love
  • radio and wireless technologies
  • kittens and puppies and tigers and otters
  • books
  • stuffing
  • music
  • the many almost magical computing devices that I can now wear on my wrist, carry in my pocket, and otherwise bring a wealth of information and possibilities that was only barely imaginable when I was a kid
  • all my wonderful friends—who are talented, kind, giving, and clearly the most patient people in the world, because they put up with me

Thank you, each and every one. And whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or not, I hope you have a wonderful day full of blessings, because you deserve it

Thanksgiving with Grandma Wanda, and other news updates

If you haven’t seen this story, or the viral images of the wrong number text message that led to a Thanksgiving meeting of former strangers: a woman send Thanksgiving dinner details to the wrong number. The guy who gets it replies, “Who is this.” The woman says, “Your Grandma.” The guy sends a selfie, “I don’t think you’re my Grandma.” She sends back a selfie and apologizes for the wrong number. He jokes, “Can I still have a plate?” and she says, “Of course! That’s what grandma’s do, feed everyone!”

And they kept texting and she said she was serious he should come to Thanksgiving dinner, and he didn’t have local family, and then, well, this happened:

Thanksgiving with Grandma Wanda: Accidental Text That Was Meant to Be.


In other news, after the phenomenal crowdsourcing campaign, the Green Party in Wisconsin has filed for a re-count and a paper ballot reconciliation:

Green Party files for Wisconsin recount, audit.

And:

Clinton campaign: We are taking part in the recount.

cw8d-5oxuaaglhhI admit, I was one of the people saying I didn’t trust the Green Party’s effort. After asking the world to donate 2.5 million so they could demand recounts in three states, they changed the small print on the fundraising page several times, and changed the goal they were asking for several times. The fine print was the sorts of disclaimers you would expect, in one sense: they couldn’t guarantee the recounts would happen; if excess money was raised the part would keep the money to promote “voter integrity options” that sort of thing. But the wording kept adding more loopholes.

But the thing was, the first filing deadline (Wisconsin) was Friday. They had exceeded the original ask significantly, and the clock was literally ticking down, and they had not filed a petition for a recount. It was at a point where the Wisconsin Elections Commission was making snarky comments on it’s website and twitter account, because the Greens kept blasting out more money beg messages but hadn’t filed: Wisconsin Elections Commission Basically Calling Jill Stein Out for Not Filing Recount Petition Yet.

So I don’t think I was being unreasonable (or mean) when I retweeted another editorial that made the observation that the Green Party money beg was starting to seem as if it might be a scam. The word “seem” was in the title, so even if you didn’t click through and read the piece, (which was nuanced and balanced) it should have been obvious that I was only claiming suspicion.

As I exchanged words with some others on twitter afterward, I repeatedly said that if the Green Party actually filed all three petitions before the deadlines in each state, that I would agree that they weren’t merely fundraising for themselves off the issue.

The party did file a petition in Wisconsin before the deadline (as the above headlines show), so that’s one down. I understand that the rules in each state about the petitions vary. And that sometimes an incorrectly worded form can cause a filing to be rejected. I don’t know if any of the remaining states have a process by which the initial filing can be amended or corrected after it is filed.

And heck, even the states don’t always know. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said they had their own lawyers double-checking the procedure while they were awaiting the petition. Turns out there’s a contradiction in the state law: one part says that the petitioner has to deposit money to pay for the recount when they file, another part says that the Commission has to give the petitioner an estimate of the cost of the recount after receiving the petition and the petitioner has to pony up the money within a very short timeline after getting the estimate. So, I understand that trying to make certain all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed means they can’t just slap down a petition right away.

Completely unrelated to all of this: while there are reasons to be skeptical about the vote count in some places, I’m not holding out a lot of hope that any of these recounts will change any results. Part of that is based on past experience. And the lack of clear evidence of wrong doing is the reason that organizations such as the Clinton campaign is loathe to expend the millions of dollars required for a recount. I’ve blogged more than once about the Republican gubernatorial candidate in my state several years ago who paid over a million dollars for a recount and audit, and succeeded only in discovering that there had been a total of four fraudulent ballots filed in the race–and all four had voted for him, not his opponent. So he and the party spent a lot of money to actually reduce their own vote count, and thus lose slightly worse…

“I really wish Jill Stein had not waited until after the election to be so concerned about a few thousand votes tipping the election to Trump” —@danpfeiffer

“I really wish Jill Stein had not waited until after the election to be so concerned about a few thousand votes tipping the election to Trump” —@danpfeiffer

But I have to agree with Dan Pfeiffer, if the Green Party had done what so-called third-parties used to do: endorse the major party candidate who supported most of their agenda (earlier in the campaign the eventual Green nominee had claimed she would endorse Bernie Sanders if Bernie got the nomination, and since Hillary’s voting record when they were both in the Senate matched Bernie 90+ percent of the time you’d think that would be close enough). I get it, when I was younger I used to think that what we needed was more active third parties. That was before I understood a couple of very important things: while the Constitution says nothing explicitly about parties, the way the electoral college is set up to elect presidents means that we have a Constitutionally-mandated two party system; and for most of history both major parties are coalitions of unofficial smaller parties already.

Anyway, I don’t think that recounts and audits are ever a bad idea. So even if these efforts don’t change anything, I’m glad that we’re going forward with at least one, and hope at least two more.

At least we’ll have pie…

(Maxine created by John Wagner, © Hallmark Licensing, LLC)

(Maxine created by John Wagner, © Hallmark Licensing, LLC)

We’re spending Thanksgiving at Mom’s, which is a very small space for the number of people who will be there, and the kitchen is even tinier. So coordinating holiday dinners is always a little difficult, particularly since we are driving down the night before and staying at a nearby hotel (by the time this posts, we should be there, obviously). If we lived a lot closer, we’d be able to cook some things here the morning before, but that isn’t an option. The other extended family members who live nearby have various restrictions on their space and facilities, as well. A few years ago, Mom and I collaborated on ordering dinner from a local store which I picked up that morning. But it was… well… it wasn’t good. And the small town she is in doesn’t have any better options.

Which isn’t to say that the dinners haven’t been good and enjoyable. And as crowded as everything gets when we’re all crammed in at Mom’s small place, if we had more (shall we say) elaborate food, it would be even more difficult. It’s just that there is a part of me—primed by memories of epic childhood holiday dinners, plus a boatload of pop culture expectations, and memories of elaborate holiday dinners I’ve cooked as an adult—that keeps wanting it to be more. It’s emotional baggage, rather than any actual shortcoming of the event, right?

Which means that I have to spend a certain amount of time before the holiday psyching myself out to not be disappointed, and (perhaps more importantly) to not act as if I’m disappointed.

This year I’m responsible for the relish tray, a salad (specifically Mom wants me to make the salad my hubby dubbed Foofy Salad), and pies. All are things that are easy to transport and don’t need to be cooked or heated when we arrive. And it has the upside of leaving me certain that there will be pie. Later this weekend, we’ll be cooking a dinner with some of the traditional holiday dishes that we don’t get on the actual day.

Before I queue this up and finish packing, I want list some of the things I’m thankful for; if for no other reason to remind myself that there is still a lot of good in the world:

  • my wonderful, handsome, sweet, smart, talented, and sexy husband
  • purple
  • people who love
  • kittens
  • people who make art, stories, music, and other creative things
  • mousies
  • radio and other wireless technology
  • coffee
  • people who help other people
  • my friends—wonderful, talented, nerdy, loving, and some of them nearly as crazy as me
  • people who make things work
  • puppies
  • books
  • otters
  • my wonderful, talented, hard-working, handsome husband who inexplicably puts up with me (who absolutely deserves to be on this list more than once!)
  • people who sweat the details
  • flowers
  • tigers
  • people who don’t sweat the details
  • science
  • my job
  • raspberries
  • satellites and space craft and telescopes
  • my extended chosen family, which yes overlaps with several other times on this list (not just the third)
  • technology that lets me carry my entire music library in my pocket, access the world’s libraries from the palm of my hand, read silly things people say halfway around the world, all while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store
  • my family, yes even the most exasperating, because they’re part of what made me who I am, and I’m sure that I drive them just as crazy as they drive me
  • electricity
  • people who clean up after disasters
  • readers
  • pie
  • pi
  • good food, drink, and opportunities to be merry
  • my sexy husband who keeps me sane, fixes things I break, finds things I lose, and perhaps most importantly, inspires me to ignore my worst impulses and go high when others or the world goes low

Thank you, everyone who reads this. Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope that you are surrounded by love. I hope your life contains more blessings than troubles. May you find joy, and may you know that you give others reason to be thankful.

It is about being thankful, after all

Things to be grateful for (Click to embiggen).

Things to be grateful for (Click to embiggen).

It’s easy to spend all of our time worrying about bad things happening in the world, ranting about stupid things people do, complaining about problems that plague us, and so forth. I feel especially bad doing that because a lot of things in my life are not just good, they’re wonderful. And it’s worthwhile to remember that. And not just remember it, but share it.

So, among the things I’m thankful for this year:

  • My husband — sweet, kind, loving, smart, sexy, and way too awesome for the likes of me
  • My friends — talented, entertaining, amazing, supportive, and inexplicably willing to put up with me
  • purple, anything purple
  • people who help other people
  • books
  • coffee
  • people who sweat the details
  • flowers
  • people who make good art
  • electricity
  • people who love
  • soy nog
  • people who clean up after natural disasters
  • rockets and satellites and space probes and all the cool things humans build to learn more about everything
  • tigers
  • people who make other people laugh
  • otters
  • my family, yes even the most crazy, because they’re part of what made me who I am, and I’m sure that I drive them just as crazy as they drive me
  • people who make music
  • my job
  • people who don’t sweat the small stuff
  • my wonderful, talented, hard-working, long-suffering, handsome husband (who absolutely deserves to be on this list more than once!)
  • people who dance
  • raspberries
  • people who do science
  • kittens, puppies, adorable pictures, and all the sweet goofy things in the world
  • people who build things
  • music
  • technology that lets me carry my entire music library in my pocket, access the world’s libraries from the palm of my hand, read silly things people say halfway around the world, and complain about the most petty first world problems while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store
  • people who care
  • my extended chosen family, which yes overlaps with several other times on this list (not just the second)
  • the crazy world of entertainment that gives us everything from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic to Ashe vs Evil Dead and everything in between
  • readers
  • sexy people (yes, including the cast of Magic Mike)
  • my clever, patient husband who happens to be both an amazing computer resurrectionist and a damn good cook

Thank you, everyone who reads this. Where ever you are, whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today or not, I hope your life has more blessings than tribulations. May you be surrounded by love and filled with joy—because you deserve it!

Lots to be thankful for (click to embiggen)

Lots to be thankful for (click to embiggen)

It’s an old family recipe…

Enjoy yourself a nice food coma... (Click to embiggen)

Enjoy yourself a nice food coma… (Click to embiggen)

I learned a lot of incredible recipes from my grandmothers and great-grandmothers as a kid. There are a few favorite old dishes that, for one reason or another, I never learned how to make before the only person in the family that knew it passed away. One of my great-grandmothers cooked sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving in heavy cream and molasses. They were incredibly delicious, but it was apparently a rather involved process. If she wasn’t attending the big Thanksgiving dinner, we didn’t get the creamy sweet potatoes. Her daughter, my Grandma B, didn’t like the creamy recipe. She preferred to just pour a bit of molasses and a bunch of mini-marshmallows on top and bake the sweet potatoes. Lots of people eat them that way, but they just don’t compare to the way Great-grandma made them.

My Grandma P. had all sorts of favorite old recipes, but most of them weren’t Thanksgiving fare (her chili was to die for!). But about ten years before she died, after she had let my Aunt Silly take over hosting the annual Thanksgiving dinner, Grandma brought this frozen cranberry salad which everyone loved. Really, really loved. And they begged her to make it again for Christmas. It became the dish she brought to all the holiday get-togethers from then on. For some reason, I never asked her to explain the recipe to me. I was a bit surprised, after Grandma died, when I found out none of my cousins, nor my aunt, nor Mom, had ever asked for the recipe. We had some discussions and realized that none of us agreed on all the ingredients we recalled being in it. It was frozen, it had cranberries, and orange slices, and Cool Whip mixed together, but also had layers. But some of us remember it having nuts, while some said it never did, and others remember coconut, while others thought it was marshmallows, and so on. I suspect it’s because Grandma had alway been an improvisational cook, so I bet she never made it exactly the same way, twice.

Over the years since, I experimented in an attempt to re-create it, and have come up with a process that gets something most of the family members agree is darn close. I know that Grandma probably made hers with canned cranberry sauce, but I always start with raw cranberries and mandarin oranges, cooking them down to make homemade cranberry sauce. In the tradition of none of us remembering it the same way, every year I intentionally do at least one different ingredient than the previous year. My sister keeps insisting Grandma’s had mini marshmallows (at least two cousins agree with her), while Mom and I are pretty sure it didn’t. But this year, for my sister, I’ve added mini marshmallows.

For the last fifteen years or so, Mom has made this thing she calls Mistake Salad. Originally she meant to follow a recipe she got from a magazine, but she skipped a major ingredient. But everyone liked what she made, so she’s kept doing it “wrong.” If you’ve ever heard the novelty song “Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise,” this thing Mom makes is from a similar tradition. Except if there were a song about Mom’s, it would be called “Pistachio Pudding Pineapple Cottage Cheese Surprise.” And while that may not sound good, I assure you it is sinfully delicious.

Family holiday traditions are weird like that. Several years back my sister had Thanksgiving dinner plans go badly awry, and she wound up making spaghetti and meatballs, because that was what she had left that was fit to eat. Her oldest daughter (my niece) loved that Thanksgiving, and now spaghetti and meatballs is her favorite food to make for the holidays.

When I was young, the gravy served at big family meals was always so thick, it could have been served with a fork. After you spooned some onto your mashed potatoes and stuffing, he had to sort of mash it into the potatoes and the stuffing with your fork to get the flavor blended. A friend once explained that her family’s gravy was always thin and runny, so when you poured some on any part of your dinner, it flowed all over the plate, and everything got some gravy on it. For her, that’s the flavor of Thanksgiving: a bit of gravy on everything.

For me, it isn’t a holiday dinner if there isn’t a relish tray (at least two kinds of olives, pickles, other pickled vegetables). For my husband, the dinner needs a green bean casserole—specifically the kind made with cream of mushroom soup and French’s fried onions. And afterward there has to be pie. Unless I’m feeling up to make cherries jubilee (the kind with flaming brandy! Fruit, sugar, ice cream, and fire! How can you top that for a dessert?), then I can live without pie.

This year it’s just going to be the three of us at my Mom’s. So we’re only going to have part of a turkey, and only a couple of side dishes. Though I can tell from the messages I’ve been exchanging with her that both of us have picked up a few extra things besides what we discussed when divvy-ing up the menu. So we’ll probably wind up with enough food to feed a dozen. It may be more than filling, but it will also be fun.

So, what are you having?

Thankful

slide_383990_4582060_freeI’ve spent way too much time thinking about, talking about, reading about, or ranting about bad things. It’s Thanksgiving, and the truth is that I have a lot to be thankful for. And sometimes it’s useful to stop and remind ourselves of the good things in our lives.

I’m thankful for:

  • my smart, sweet, sexy, long-suffering husband
  • coffee
  • people who help other people
  • flowers
  • people who don’t sweat the small stuff
  • science
  • purple
  • my wonderful, crazy, sometimes infuriating relatives who probably find me even more bewildering than I ever do them
  • people who love
  • radio and wireless technologies
  • kittens and puppies and tigers and otters
  • ponies!
  • books
  • portable music players
  • all my wonderful friends—who are talented, kind, giving, and must be the most patient people in the world, because they put up with me

Thank you, each and every one. And whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or not, I hope you have a wonderful day full of blessings, because you deserve it!

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