Notes on Food Culture: Or, How I Learned to Love Thanksgiving

I NEVER LIKED THANKSGIVING WHEN I WAS A KID. I didn’t speak to me in the way that Christmas, Easter, or my birthday did, you know, with endless treats or piles of gifts.

Thanksgiving, although it did always end with my Aunt Cindy’s scrumptious homemade pumpkin pie, was just a day of traveling, football, and adults; just a day spent on my best behavior endlessly answering the question “So, how’s school?”

THESE DAYS, THOUGH, I HAVE A RENEWED LOVE FOR THIS HOLIDAY. Setting aside the fact that it originated with Pilgrims sharing a feast with Native Americans before stealing their land and giving them small pox, Thanksgiving has a lot going for it.

It is the Grandmother of all Slow Food dinners (not Grandfather, because, let’s face it, most of the grandfathers — and fathers — are watching football games.) It’s a dinner that takes weeks of planning, days of preparation, and a full day to cook, with people traveling from distances to enjoy it in a most leisurely fashion. It’s a dinner filled with home-cooked food, tradition, family, friends, and conversation.

It’s a day when family recipes are shared and recreated, family stories are told and passed on to a new generation, a day when everyone gathers around the table and gives thanks.

THANKSGIVING EMBODIES ALL OF THE FOOD-RELATED RITUALS IMPORTANT for us to pass on to our children and all the things we should be doing more often with our families. But for now I’ll give thanks that, at least for one day out of the year, we embrace a strong, healthy food culture.

Maybe this year we can all carry some part of it back into our everyday lives.

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