Thanksgiving is a day filled with glutinous overindulgence shadowed in the veiled idea of unity between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. But we know the real history, so its hard to call it “Thanksgiving.” If we put all of that aside, its kind of a lame holiday who’s main purpose is to fatten people up at the beginning of the holiday season. I never lived in a town with all my family. My parents moved far from family so while there were a few years we did Thanksgiving with friends, it was mostly just us as an immediate family. My mom and dad would spend two days cooking a LOT of food for 4 people and we would proceed to eat it all in a matter of minutes. If I really think about it, it seems like an extraordinary amount of work for one meal. Add to all of that the fact that I’m not even the biggest roast turkey fan. Don’t get me wrong. Every now and then I get a hankering for lightly processed sliced turkey meat for sandwiches, but I can genuinely saw I rarely, if ever, crave roasted turkey. The foods I love the most at Thanksgiving are mashed potatoes, my mom’s Southern white gravy, my dad’s cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie with Cool Whip. I know, I can hear it now, the people who know me and my refined pallate are cringing at the Cool Whip bit, but when you grow up with a flavor you love, no matter how cheap it is, you love and crave it. So I make no apologies for my penchant for Cool Whip with pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. If given the aforementioned selection of foods and turkey used as the medium to deliver the products, I would be happy. For a few years my mom made a salad but no one really ate it so the salad has ceased to exist. No sense taking up precious stomach space with lettuce and raw veggies, when that space could be filled with starch and butter.
Thanksgiving is a bit of a difficult holiday for me. Especially this year. It has never been my favorite holiday. The top spot belongs to Halloween, followed by Christmas. What I do like about Turkey day is hanging out with my family, but I do that every Friday night because we have been having family dinner once a week for years. I love it. We get to hang out, catch up on what’s happened the last week and eat good food. We have our favorite places we frequent, but we love to try new places. We’ve eaten so many different types of food and tried so many restaurants over the years. Thankfully we live in a city which offers many new and fabulous restaurants. We’ve eaten at places that are cheap, to some that are over a hundred dollars per plate. For the most part, the food has been amazing. So when I circle back to Thanksgiving and it faire, it seems less exciting and lot more work.
For obvious reasons, this years Thanksgiving was going to be a difficult one. This year I felt an inner contradiction. A dichotomy of being thankful, but also having regret and disdain. While I have a lot to be thankful for, I can’t really eat in the classical sense and this is a holiday all about eating. I got this terrible diagnosis and because of it, I had to make the difficult decision to have my stomach removed to save myself from an all but certain chance I’d get cancer. I should be thankful because I’m alive and had the choice. But I would be lying to myself if I said this holiday was easy. It’s a holiday all about food. It’s a holiday where people take pride in how much they can eat. They compete to see who eats seconds and even thirds and still has room for dessert. It’s hard because my relationship with food, the social interactions that go along with food and eating are forever changed. The days of gluttony are gone. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do as the holiday drew closer. How was I going to approach it? I even contemplated skipping it all together but knew that was a solution that wouldn’t fly with my family because while I can’t eat, I know they wanted to at least celebrate the Giving Thanks part of Thanksgiving.
Serendipitously some good friends were in town and invited me and my family to their families Thanksgiving day celebration. It was a potluck, so there would be no cooking for days in prep. Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t have done the cooking anyway, but it was nice to know I had to do none of it. Apart from a couple of sideways glances at the small amount of food on my plate, the dinner went well. I was able to eat a small portion and gave my thanks. I am thankful for my amazing and loving family. I am thankful for my wonderful friends. And I am especially thankful I discovered I had this mutation and had the surgery because, while it sucks that I can’t eat like I used to, I’m alive and get to eat and am lucky enough to be fortunate enough to have food to eat. So thank you.