Having been born in England, Thanksgiving as a celebration / holiday was not something I grew up with. When I went to America, it became an annual part of my life.
I remember the first Thanksgiving I experienced in America. A friend from work, Al, invited me, and my roommate, Kevin, over for a Thanksgiving meal. It’s fairly clear in my memory even now. A lot of things from that first year in the US (some twenty four years ago) seem to be readily recalled, even though other things from subsequent years are not so readily retrieved from my memory bank.
Afterwards we watched “Crossroads” starring Ralph Macchio, with original music by Ry Cooder. A film / movie I can highly recommend. The guitar playing, audio-wise, is really something. It left quite an impression, that has stayed with me to this day. I thank Al for the hospitality he showed us, it meant a lot.
So that was my introduction to Thanksgiving. A fine one at that.
I think it is perhaps because it is about sharing a meal with those people who you are closest to, family, for the most part, that it is a special ‘holiday’ (although, clearly, it can be with people who you just recently met). It’s the most basic of events, … food … and company … that’s it. It’s about sharing an experience with people. It’s about anchoring ourselves together around a common time interval. It’s about renewing our familiar ties.
In subsequent years I shared those times with my new extended family. Not all the time, but on many occasions. Each one still meant something to me. Even if it was just our immediate family, it carried meaning.
If we were hosting, then I really enjoyed preparing the meal. As I did when it was just us. My preference was to barbecue the turkey. My friend, Stan, taught me how to do that the right way. I am sure people very much enjoyed that too, they said as much.
I would brine the turkey for at least twenty four hours in the refrigerator beforehand. This helps make the turkey moist and gives it great flavor. I would use a kosher turkey, as those did not have anything injected into them. Then I would drain away the brine, wash the bird, and inject it with a melted butter and wine mixture. Further ensuring a moist outcome. Finally the bird got a full-blown seasoning, before heading to the grill. There it would be smoked to perfection using charcoal and all manner of woodchips and such. By the time it was done, it was a work of art.
If it was just our family we would have ‘skin time’. Once the bird was ‘rested’ (about 15-20 minutes off the grill, to allow the juices to settle in, instead of run off), we would call ‘skin time’ and there was a free-for-all on picking off the skin. That was a lot of fun, I can tell you. Then I would cut up the turkey and carve it up ready for serving.
The meal aside, it can still be a time of reflection. A time to consider all those things that one might be thankful for. Indeed, there has always been much to be thankful for. Recognising that at least annually helps to maintain a positive and healthy attitude towards one’s lot.
Whilst I will most likely not be attending a thanksgiving meal this year, I will direct my thoughts towards being thankful, regardless of that. And though I may not be with my children in person, I will be with them in spirit.
Just going on a Facebook posting I saw recently, there are some basic things I can be thankful for … I have a fridge, I have clothes in a wardrobe, I sleep in a bed, and I have a roof over my head. I am thankful for all of those things, most assuredly. Beyond that I am thankful for three beautiful and talented children. I am thankful for all the love and good times I shared with my family over those twenty plus years, and there was a lot of that. And I am thankful that all of us are going to have full, productive, enjoyable lives from here on out too.
I am thankful for all the people I have had the privilege to meet, to know, to share time with, to whatever extent or level that may have been.
There are so many things to be thankful for, past, present, and even future (I am sure). For all of that … I am thankful.
Bless Bless og Sjáumst!