According to one of my favorite philosophers, The Grinch, Christmas doesn’t come in a box. But at our house, Thanksgiving does. No, it’s not a box from the Salvation Army or a prepared meal from the grocery store. Our Thanksgiving comes from stuffing in a box, gravy in a jar and mashed potatoes in a bag. Our turkey is real and I know that because it comes with that little bag of disgusting turkey parts frozen solidly into its cavity. It takes three men and a boy and/or a crowbar and boiling water to dislodge those worthless chunks of whatever that we promptly toss into the garbage. But I think some of those innards had starring rolls in the Aliens movie, so I guess they’re good for something.
If my husband didn’t consent to wrestling with that raw turkey – cavity and all – there would be no turkey on our Thanksgiving table. Although I’m no big turkey fan (turned off, maybe, by the state of it raw,) I won’t buck tradition by serving an entrée with which I have a more cordial relationship.
It’s not as if I’m lazy, really, or a woman who thinks dinner is something that comes from Chef Boyardee or out of a microwave, but my rendition of Thanksgiving is definitely stress free, if not pretty darned tasty. And yeah, yeah. I get Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living and Rachel Ray, with covers that sport golden brown turkeys accompanied by colorful side dishes. I admit those delectable photos momentarily inspire me to trade up. But reality returns when I find that each recipe calls for about 20 ingredients, most of which I don’t think are available in my grocery store. Like a salad made with walnuts from the black tree of Outer Mongolia, combined with watercress grown in a hot house inThailand and cheese from albino mountain goats in the Himalayas.
And honestly, I’m not even really sure what a caper is or why I should whip cream, when I can just buy whipped topping in the freezer section or why I would knead dough and wait for it to rise, when I can buy brown and serve rolls with a three-year shelf life.
Undaunted about what could be, I settle for what is and what forever will be. Because, first and foremost, my family does not like to deviate from the expected and the familiar, even with the prospect of a gourmet meal and because I have learned that no good can come from stressing over a meal (i.e. migraine headache, premature cocktail hour, Chinese takeout.)
And I take no umbrage with those that say Thanksgiving in a box, jar or bag is the easy way out. I prefer to think of it as tradition.
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