Monday, November 25, 2013

The New Forgotten Holiday

Norman Rockwell's iconic Thanksgiving Saturday Evening Post cover.

I was at the mall just after Halloween and trees were up, Santa’s throne was assembled and “Jingle Bells” was playing in some of the stores. There’s a holiday we’re skipping over in our rush to buy and sell things. It’s called Thanksgiving. You know, it’s about being thankful for the stuff you already have. I know I am turning into that old guy on 60 Minutes, but I’ve got another rant to get off my chest. Just called me Ranty McRanterson – but seriously, what happened to that November holiday called Thanksgiving? Has it been eclipsed by a new holiday called Black Friday? Perhaps it's doomed to suffer the same fate as one of the other forgotten holidays. Arbor Day, anyone? My inbox has been inundated lately with sales offers about advanced Black Friday deals, special Thanksgiving hours and all manner of promotions for “the holidays.” It used to be that Thanksgiving was sacred. The true madness didn’t start until the morning after – if you’re crazy. Now, retail giants like Wal-mart, Target, Best Buy, Toys "R" Us and others are open on Thanksgiving so you can scarf your turkey down and hit the stores. Retail employees must forego any semblance of a holiday break for the next month as we spend ourselves into oblivion.

When I think of Thanksgiving I like to think of the Norman Rockwell painting or a Publix Thanksgiving commercial. I like to think of family gathered around the table sharing a home cooked meal. I think of Granny’s cornbread dressing – that I’m going to attempt to make this year – and a table full of sweets. I like to think of a warm house and lots of stories – of kids running around, the men gathered around a football game (even though I hate football) and the women chatting in the kitchen.  I like to think of Granny’s bright green countertops, the aroma of good food, tables set with dishes of every pattern and a little house filled with a lot of people. Even if you showed up with a store bought pie, there was no shame. I know that’s kind of an idealistic vision and that not everyone has that or can be with family. However, if you can’t be with family, you can be with friends or other human beings in some capacity. It’s a time to step away from the computer and actually carry on a conversation with another real live person.

Thanksgiving is also a time to think about what is important. My neighborhood is reeling right now from the sudden loss of a beloved chef and restaurateur, Ria Pell, who passed away suddenly yesterday. It’s particularly jarring to me because I saw her yesterday at the local farmer’s market. She was right behind me in line chatting with the bread guy. Then, apparently, a few hours later she was gone. Ria was only 44 years old. Her passing is yet another reminder that life is fleeting and fragile. It’s a reminder that we should value time with those we love and, as Ria would appreciate, take time to gather around the table and share a meal.

Tomorrow I will head into the kitchen to get a head start on all the cooking. With the passing of my grandparents this past year, we’ll be embarking on some new traditions. However, as I make Granny’s dressing and Papa’s favorite custard pie, I’ll think of them and we’ll be together. So I will wrap up this diatribe with a plea:  let’s not forget Thanksgiving. The best way to fight the insanity is to stay out of the stores!  And now, I leave you with a Thanksgiving recipe from years past: pecan pie (just click on the picture). If I manage to master Granny’s dressing, I’ll be sure to share it with you next. It’s also the main attraction at Christmas too. 

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Classic Pecan Pie


  1. This is so true. Take time to cook and share recipes with your loved ones. I have so many great Thanksgiving memories. Those present at the table may never assemble in that configuration again. Each is unique. Savor each one. Shopping can wait.

    1. Thanks, Vanessa! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!