Thanksgiving season is upon us and with it will be many opportunities to gather with friends and family to enjoy a simple or extravagant meal. The original idea behind Thanksgiving was to use the occasion to express our gratitude for a bountiful harvest and share our good fortune by preparing a delicious meal and inviting loved ones over to join in the festivities. It is also a time for reflection; a time to be grateful for all the good things in our lives and offer a prayer of thanks and goodwill.
When I first arrived in the USA, I didn’t have family around and so my first Thanksgiving would have been spent in a college dorm alone with other foreign students; eating whatever the university prepared for us that weekend. Fortunately for me, one of my good college friends, Lisa G, invited me to her home for my first Thanksgiving meal. Initially, I was reluctant because I didn’t want to impose on a family event but she insisted and I’m glad I went because it was memorable.
“Best of all is it to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving, and for every breath a song.” ~ Konrad von Gesner
Lisa G lived in Brooklyn and came from a very large and extended African American family. Lisa explained to me, as we prepared to leave for the subway that morning on our way to her family home, that everyone brings a dish or two, and her Aunts compete with each other to make the tastiest dishes and desserts for the occasion. She assured me there would be multiples of everything; including the traditional turkey. There were several prepared turkeys and the abundant food didn’t disappoint.
When we arrived at her family home, Lisa’s mom and and a couple of Aunts were running around in the large kitchen, grabbing pots and pans and putting things in the oven or fridge. There was excitement in the air and a rich aroma of spices, baked goods, and turkey dominated the space. We offered to help and were sent off to set the two tables in the dining area. Then we helped set up the drinks table; alcoholic beverages, eggnog, sodas, juices and water. After that, we helped chop vegetables; collard greens, onions, peppers, and such. While we helped out in the kitchen, guests and family members streamed in bearing large dishes of food; apple pies, sweet-potato pies, macaroni and cheese, green-bean salads, red velvet cake, carrot cake, and a turkey or two. We collected the food and added them to the growing display of food on the long side table. Hope You Have a Happy Thanksgiving! More below…