On Thanksgiving morning at 11am I was standing with my mom in the kitchen.Light was filtering in through the windows, the cheesy Thanksgiving day parade was playing in the family room, and I had just come home from a “turkey trot”. This turkey trot was not the widely known 10k that most DC residents participate in but rather, a group of friends that gather early in the morning to get a little exercise in, catch up, and say hello before rushing home to be with family.
My turkey trot consisted of me walking about 2 miles and then eating a glazed donut. And it was perfect. Afterwards, I was happy to be in my warm home, happy to know that the rest of my day would be spent solely in the kitchen.
“I love that Thanksgiving is a time where everything stops in the middle of the week in the US,” my mom said. “Everything stops just so that we can eat and talk and spend time with friends and family.” What a resounding truth. Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays we celebrate in the US that doesn’t have a lot of pomp and flair. There are no gifts that are given, no party hats, no countdown. There are no fireworks or free candy, no crazy costumes, and no explosion of all things pink, heart-shaped, and chocolate.
Instead, Thanksgiving is a holiday that exists simply – we eat good food, we spend time with dear friends and family, and we finally take the time to slow down and articulate what we are grateful for. The equation for a happy thanksgiving is almost so simple, it makes you wonder why we don’t take the time to infuse these things into our daily life more often.
My Thanksgiving vacation this year was a lot different than I was expecting. I was thankful for my amazing friends and family but I was also grateful to reconnect with some old friends, to be reminded of my past.
This Thanksgiving was also different because I successfully cooked my first turkey. When confronted with the impending threat of a turkey-less Thanksgiving (thanks to a vegetarian mom and a dad and brother who I love but were not about to spend four hours with a naked bird in the kitchen), I accepted the challenge.
And after six hours of cooking, I produced something that both looked and tasted like a turkey. Success!
(I can’t say the same for the gravy, that turned out to be more of a paste.)
Honestly, the thrill of tending to my bird and that pivotal moment when the internal temperature reached 165 degrees was unlike anything else. I was reminded again of how satisfying and pleasurable the simple act of preparing and sharing food can be.
“For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”
― Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation