Thanksgiving is a time of reflection. It’s about appreciating all the small blessings we’ve been fortunate enough to receive during the course of the year. It’s about gratitude and gathering with family to celebrate compassion and joy and just the glory of life in general.
Ha. JK. Thanksgiving is the one day people can stuff themselves and not feel bad about it. And as Americans, when they do this, they go all out.
Every Thanksgiving meal starts with my Uncle Steve’s prayer. He’s a pastor up in Candor, New York, and the sermons and blessings that he gives literally leave you feeling blessed and cleansed of all evil. No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without my uncle’s blessing.
-Mary Louise McMahan
This Thanksgiving, I spent my time with my mom and aunt making the dinner and desserts all day. We had one of our Crock Pots explode when we tried to plug it in. The explosion caused the whole building to run out of power. My dad and uncle were gone hunting, so it was up to the women to fix it.
After everything has officially been prepared, it gets wrapped up and put away. Then, my dad and my uncle call the invited family. Before they show up, everyone works together to set everything straight. In a Kurdish household, it’s common to eat on the ground instead of a table. My sister normally lays a big sheet on the carpet and begins setting everything. First come the plates and spoons, along with the napkins and cups. After everything looks tidy up and presentable, we wait for the family.
Thankfully (joke), the event was relatively chaos free, unlike my stomach, which later became home to an American-sized portion of turkey and stuffing (I like to think of it as controlled, delicious chaos). We began the day with a leisurely stroll through the forest, a moment of tranquility before things became carnivorous. Despite our best efforts to ignore gender stereotypes, it was my step-mother who was nominated to oversee the dinner-making process, the main reason being that we wanted to consume a meal that was as much on-time as much as it was edible. Dinner was not entirely rushed, but at the same time the older ones at the table knew and feared that at any point a young child could decide that the meal was now concluded. It was a struggle to explain to them that dessert would be delayed while the table was cleared. Unexpectedly, they were quick to conform, making it yet another bullet dodged during the day.
I only had one complaint. I am fifteen years old, and I was demoted to the kids table. It’s a sad little black thing with spindly legs that my knees bump up underneath of, and I was not happy about it. They insisted that once I turn sixteen I won’t have to, but they said that last year about fifteen, and the year before about fourteen. I think it’s because they secretly don’t want us to grow up. John and I, my mom’s friend’s son and a close friend of mine, are the oldest, and therefore we had to watch over the rest who spent most of their time playing “fight club” in the basement. Out of sight, out of mind.
The only thing I tend to avoid year after year is my mother’s cranberry chutney. I find it very sour, and the plethora of spices thrown into the chutney is very overwhelming. I think the only reason it keeps getting made every year is my mom’s tendency to make what she loves, despite the vote of the majority, but who am I to complain, I do the exact same thing.
This was probably the first year that I really, truly appreciated my grandma’s good cooking because even though over half of us, including me, were suffering from a brutal cold with sinus and respiratory symptoms and it was difficult for us to smell or let alone taste anything, and it was somehow still delicious.