I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday of the season. I like it because I dictate how I want to spend it. There is no gift giving pressure. It is fairly leisurely. Basically, it’s all good. I am a purist when it comes to the Thanksgiving meal that I want to eat. I want mashed potatoes and I want gravy. And more than anything else, I want stuffing. Great giant gobs of it made with sticks and sticks of butter. I want it all, everything except the bird. Really the last thing I want on my table is a giant carcass, but that makes me sound like a rabid vegetarian, so I won’t go there. So yes, I want all the traditional Thanksgiving food, just without the meat. I would mention that my stuffing is the talk of the town, or at
least in my circles. We have even fed it to the meat eaters with no complaints (the secret is to make your own bread crumbs).
Part of my turkey day love likely stems from the Thanksgivings of my youth. When I was very young, before my parents divorced, we would congregate at my grandmother’s house. This is the grandmother on my mom’s side. She was boisterous and a smoker and an alcoholic. Indeed my mother has many bad, bad memories of my grandmother’s drinking but for me, I never noticed. Or I never wanted to. She was just Grandma Tuffy (the name of her little dog). And I loved her like crazy.
My mom and sister and I (I vaguely remember my dad being there) drove the hour and half or so from Centereach, the town of my youth, to Port Washington where my Grandmother’s tiny house was. I loved that house. It had a screened in front porch which was furnished and carpeted. During the cold months I seem to remember that the screens were covered in plastic. This offered small protection from the NY November cold. My aunt, uncle and two cousins would come as well. Us kids were left to ourselves and generally told to play outside since the house was so small. We would be bundled up against the cold. I remember that in the kitchen there was a door that led downstairs to this weird basement that was on ground level in the back due to the sloping of the property. At the back of the yard, beyond the property line there was this huge, drainage ditch, lined with fallen leaves. My cousins, my sister and I would roam all over the yard. Then we would follow the ditch to the end where the local dog pound was. We could hear the dogs inside barking and barking. Sometimes there was ice in the ditch and we would throw rocks to hear the different sounds we could make as they pinged off. The air was always crisp and cool. It frequently smelled like many fireplaces were burning all at once. It was quite heavenly.
Until we got older, when it was time to eat, we would be situated at the kids’ table. It was in my grandmother’s extra bedroom. They crammed a card table in there and we all huddled around the TV watching King Kong and Godzilla movies for as long as we wanted. I remember the commercial for Playworld (a world of toys, great for girls and great for boys) would run over and over as the sponsor of monster goodness. It is likely that we sang along to the jingle.
So my Thanksgiving memories are warm and fuzzy. Full of stuffing and gravy. I suppose that I am trying to recreate those same feelings for my son through the food we eat. Hawaii offers no fall like setting in the way of changing leaves or cool temperatures. Despite this, I believe that I may be succeeding in cultivating his love of Thanksgiving. He told me that it is his second favorite holiday after Christmas. Maybe he just needs a bit more stuffing to make it his number one.