Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving: Proper Perspective

The Pilgrims and the Indians, corn, turkey, pumpkin.... that's pretty much the image most of us have of the first Thanksgiving. (Thanks, Charlie Brown!)

While that is true, it is also true that the first Thanksgiving was very much a thanks giving to God for bringing the Pilgrims through that year, allowing them fellowship with the Indians, and providing them with food for the coming winter. Each group came together sharing of their bounty (and sharing their traditional recipes!).

This Thanksgiving, remember those first European settlers mixing with the American natives and their desire to thank the Lord. Did they have their favorite dishes at that Thanksgiving? Probably not. Did they have all their favorite people around? Most definitely not (in fact, many had died in the year previous). But they did have much reason to give thanks to God.

This Thanksgiving, Carrie and I won't be with our parents--for the first time since we left home, neither of us will be at the big family celebration that my mother's family has every year. We'll both be eating some different foods than are usual, but we will still have a wonderful day! We'll still have much reason to give thanks and to enjoy the fellowship of those with whom we're eating (gorging might be a better term, eh?).

The Thanksgiving meal we have with my mother's side of the family ALWAYS includes the following: turkey and cornbread dressing (homemade and my grandmother's recipe), gravy (for the dressing, of course), cranberry relish, some sort of sweet potato dish (used to be spiked with bourbon), rolls, custard fruit salad, pecan pie and chocolate ice box cake. It wasn't until both of us married that we started including pumpkin pie because our husbands like it (I'd never tasted pumpkin pie until I got to college!).

This year, here's what my immediate family will be doing. We'll get together with good friends, onecouple of which is from Louisiana and the other from Pennsylvania. Did we all grow up with different food on our Thanksgiving table? You bet. But, here's our conglomerate menu: turkey, cranberry relish, stuffing (those Yankees :) ), hashbrown casserole, sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole, rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, pecan pie, apple cranberry pie. A nice marriage of different traditions--in fact, I'll be bringing the pies and one recipe is my mother's and the other is my mother in law's. Even our appetizers reflect our diversity: crab dip, Chex Mix, artichokes....

So, don't sweat it this year if things aren't happening exactly as they always have in the past. It's the fellowship around a bountiful table and taking time out to give thanks to the Lord that's important. Make the most of it--our country is unique in that we take an entire day off from work to give thanks. Pretty neat, I think.

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