"It's Ritual Sacrifice…With Pie."

I love Thanksgiving. Why? Because it's still more or less pure. We get together. We eat. We give thanks. That's pretty much it. For those who follow it up with a shopping marathon as soon as the last bite of stuffing is swallowed, well, I prefer not to. I say, sit still. Eat another sliver of pie if you are lucky enough to have some. Play a board game. Watch a movie. Talk. Gripe about who's going to clean the table. Turn off the screens and go for a walk. Let the kids get bored. It's good for them. Maybe one of them will become an artist or writer. You can't do that unless you have quiet time to stew and brew ideas. No really. You can't.

When I was about eight, I taught myself how to make pumpkin pie. My mother always refused; she said it looked like baby poop. (yes, really, she did. Make of this what you will. All families have dysfunction. Mine included pie refusal.) So I read the recipe on the back of the Libby pumpkin can and figured it out. It's not rocket science, pumpkin pie making. But I knew that if I was going have some, I would have to make it myself. Same thing with homemade cranberry sauce. Mom had never met a convenience product she didn't embrace. And it wasn't that I was like this pint-sized Luddite. I just wanted to make cranberry sauce from real cranberries. Just like those Pilgrims, you know? Turns out you pour a bag of fresh cranberries into a pot with water and sugar and boil it for awhile. Yeah, that's it. Then it congeals and there you have it. My family still prefers that slimy canned stuff you slice. There's no accounting for taste.

Anyway, I was the eight year old making pie and sauce and watching the Macy's Parade and wishing I could see it in person someday.

Here in Texas, we had to cobble together our own family for many years because we were far from our relatives. Turns out that's possibly the very best kind of Thanksgiving. Friends who are like family are a rare and wonderful thing. And they eat your pumpkin pie and your cranberry sauce and tell you it's the best ever.

The first year I attempted a turkey, I didn't know you had to defrost it fully enough to get the plastic sack of giblets out of the cavity. Well, you do. That bag cooked inside the turkey. I never told anyone. Well, until now.

This year, my daughter in law is making the turkey. She is an organized sort because she works in the ICU. Last time she hosted, she had a clipboard. She is a brilliant and wonderful crazy danger, that girl.

Finally I shall leave you with a line from the Buffy Thanksgiving episode, the one where Buffy insists they all have a real Pilgrim Thanksgiving with yams and mashed potatoes and she asks Giles if he has a ricer and Angel is lurking and also some Native American spirits and Spike is tied to a chair. But it's Anya who defines Thanksgiving as 'ritual sacrifice… with pie.'

And so I leave you.


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