Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday's Mental Musings

It is the beginning of the Thanksgiving Holiday week, the one holiday across America that most of us celebrate without issue. Many of us celebrate it in honor of our nation's historical beginning, many of us celebrate it as the harvest feast it was meant to be and there are those of us that celebrate it because it's a tradition we've accepted without consideration.

I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving as a Feast of Gratitude and I continue to do so. Though bombarded at school with images of Pilgrims they never found their way into the homes of most of my family, though images of Indians and Turkeys and Corn were all over the place! 

On the day of the feast we would gather around a table ladened with our traditional foods and the "exotic" dishes of those who had joined our family through marriage and friendship. The meal marked a time of gratitude and plenty. It was a time to enjoy the largest meal of the year before hunkering down with the idea that winter meant limited access to fresh produce. And even though fruits and veggies were imported and accessible when I was young -just an fyi, I'm not 100 but I did live in East Brooklyn ;) . We never considered paying for fruits and veggies "out of season", instead we lived off root, frozen or canned veggies and fruits, grains and dried fruits and such.
Grace was always said before we ate. Our prayer never included a religious icon. Instead it always thanked the Creator (God), acknowledged the elder family members no longer at the table, showed appreciation for those around the table, especially those that had contributed and worked on the feast and welcomed the new members, both family and friend, to the fold. This is the same prayer I still say before each family meal.

Of course times have changed. The economy sucks and I know many out of work or struggling to make ends meet. I know some who wondered how Thanksgiving would arrive this year, but arrive it did. This year many of us will return to simple traditions. Our meals will still be feasts but smaller meals that reflect the past and ground us in our present. My family will pull out my grandmother's succotash recipe, make my great-gram’s skillet corn bread, using some of it to stuff that turkey and pop string beans for a simple sauté. The cranberries will be made the night before and kept in the frigde next to the greens that will be cleaned and cooked the morning of the meal. There will be pumpkin and apple pies and the sweet potatoes will be used for yams candied with maple syrup.

And there will be our prayer of gratitude because all of us have cause to be grateful - we are here, we are here and every day above ground is worth praise.


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