Tuesday, November 24, 2009

With Gratitude

I love holidays. I especially love Thanksgiving.

And for me, it’s all tied up in the food. In our house we celebrate with both tradition and new experiences. Some dishes always stay the same, roasted turkey, old-fashioned stuffing (bread, celery, onion and spices), sweet potatoes mashed with marshmallows on top, pumpkin pie. And then at least one dish is always new, smashed cauliflower, bourbon corn pudding, fancy mashed potatoes.... I’m not sure what it’s going to be this year.

There is such satisfaction in preparing a meal of thanks. Bustling around the kitchen on and off all day, the warm air redolent with mouth watering scents: sage, butter, and onion from the stuffing, the savory aroma of roasting turkey when we open the oven to baste the bird (every twenty minutes) until the breast is covered in a crisp brown shell and the pan is replete with dripping juices, the overlay of cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice from baking pies. The sounds of the Macy’s parade and football drifting on the air.

When my kids were little, Thanksgiving was a difficult meal. They liked the sweet potatoes (really they liked the marshmallows) and maybe the mashed potatoes but not much else. As it is my favorite holiday, I couldn’t stand that they weren’t completely in love with it. So, as a way to get them involved in the process, I had each one pick a dish, and then we prepared it together. It took exactly one time to make this practice a standing tradition.

Now cooking the meal is a family affair. My husband does the turkey and the kids and I cook the rest. Every moment of the day centers around creating a banquet of thanks. Emotions swirl in the air as heavily as the scents, sadness for relatives far away, the loss of our loved ones, gratitude for our own health and happiness, and underneath it all, thanks for the abundance we are blessed to have.

Hindus believe that your body absorbs every nuance of the food you eat. So it is very important to cook with joy, to imbue every stir of the spoon and every pinch of spice with love and gratitude. As we cook the meal, so we celebrate the day, counting our blessings, be they big or small, trying to acknowledge and honor each one. And at the end, we have a really incredible meal together.

Happy Holidays!



Sophie Littlefield said...

Well that swept all my holiday hesitations right out the window and got me in the mood - home-made pie crusts here I come :) Thanks lisa

Anonymous said...

Awww, my eyes got all misty eyed. I love Thanksgiving too! Just because it's a day with family full of love and laughter.

~ Alison

L.G.C. Smith said...

Great post! I love your tradition of having each of the kids choose and make one dish with you. How old were they when you started that? I was thinking about our Thanksgiving and the Leezlet, and I don't know if she'll like anything we're having, except possibly the cranberry sauce. She likes tart things. Having her choose something to make with me seems brilliant. Of course, her first choice will be chocolate cake. She's three, and I fear she has been unduly influenced by Little Bear's fondness for chocolate cake.

Adrienne Miller said...

Lisa, that was just beautiful :-) I love the idea of the absorbing the emotions that were put into your food, which explains why I feel so terrible after fast food.

And Lynn, the line "unduly influenced by Little Bear" is classic!

Lisa Hughey said...

Thanks everyone :) Weirdly, this year, I am totally jonesing to cook. I've got the garlic roasting today .... :)

Lynn--I think I started about 8 years ago, so ages 9-4....

it corresponded with my evil plot to get my kids to eat different food by making them have just ONE taste (studies show it takes 7 times for your taste buds to get used to a new flavor) and it worked!

Juliet Blackwell said...

This is fabulous. I'm jealous! Thanksgiving was big with my family growing up, but now my son usually has it with his dad -- who, though he was born and raised in Mexico, adopted T-day as his fave holiday when he arrived here. So now Thanksgiving is mostly a real day of rest for me...which, of course, is something to be really grateful for!!!

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