On the fourth Thursday of every November, thankfully without fail, my dinner table is ornate with mashed potatoes, rice, corn, beans, honey roasted ham, my abuelita’s special stuffing (which I must say tastes better than it looks) and of course a roasted turkey seasoned with adobo. For over a century this particular day is celebrated as a national holiday here in the U.S., and was adopted by my parents when they first came here from Ecuador in the mid 80’s. With a day designated for the observance of gratuity, provided that each and every one of us has reasons to be grateful any day, maybe this year we should slow down before skipping over to the Holiday Season.
So before the Christmas music starts sounding off, or the whimsical decorations start piling up while we await the fat guy in the red suit, I suggest we take the next two weeks and savor this month. I suggest, this time around, we prepare and give Thanksgiving Day and its traditions, molded as they may be by each culture, their due acknowledgement.
We must start off with the turkey, the centerpiece of Thanksgiving; the feast surrounds this massive bird to the point that the alternate name of the holiday is even Turkey Day. Although I studied history in college, I cannot exactly detail the story as to why turkey and not chicken or beef or pork etc.
Well, I do not think it’s because Turkey looks better as a drawing on a fridge. My guess is that wild turkey was probably plentiful in the colonies, but please do not quote me on that. One thing I do know is that in my home this is probably the healthiest aspect of the meal without accounting for how much is actually consumed that night or as leftovers the proceeding day.
Continuing with tradition, what would a Thursday night in November be without a little game of pigskin? For the active families out there, many like to throw the ball around themselves. I’ve heard stories about how competitive these family and friends football events get. Let’s just hope there is reconciliation before the meal. Unfortunately at my home, my mom refuses to play any sport where two-hand touch games may turn brutal. So, we, like many sedentary-Thanksgiving-families, settle for watching football on TV in the living room, with a little soccer thrown into the mix if possible.
While we are on the subtopic of TV and quality family time, we should not forget the numerous specials broadcast on national television leading up to and on the holiday at hand. Charlie Brown and the Peanut gang are never scarce on any holiday so you know A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will definitely be available on some channel. Then there is The National Dog Show, which I know is not for everyone, but probably the more popular dog show in the US because of when it takes place. For me at least, this is a tempting moment that brings up the idea for another four legged addition to the family. So too, we have arrived at one TV special in particular, airing right before the dog show on the same network is one of the widest viewed events of the day, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Growing up in New York, every year meant the intention of attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and seeing it live, but annual rains and my misbehaving siblings (I of course was never involved in those conflicts) prevented us from attending. Needless to say, we always watched it from home. Beginning in the mid-1920’s, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is absolutely the more prominent experiences of Thanksgiving. With the huge character balloons and creative floats, this parade is undeniably a loved tradition. Only steps away from the office where I work, I enjoy watching even the preparations when tents are set up for rehearsals and barricades are lined up. I guess it’s just the anticipation that adds to the excitement.
Every year, the parade wraps up with Santa and his sleigh arriving on 34th Street. So let that be the start of the Holiday season and for now simply take in Thanksgiving; think of all the things you have to be grateful for and make sure you have access to the best and freshest turkey at the supermarket before all the other last minute shoppers get to it.