Tag Archives: sanity

The Untold History of Thanksgiving

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 8.26.54 AMIt’s important to remember the genesis of Thanksgiving, lest we all just start to see it as a stomach-stretching warm up for the actual holidays. The first Thanksgiving was a shared meal between the pilgrims and the Native Americans, one where they gave thanks for all they had and set the tone for who we are and how we celebrate today. It was the first step in our nation’s journey from gratitude to gluttony.

In order to make Thanksgiving a day to remember, they designed the meal around a bird that wouldn’t be roasted again, ever, for the rest of the year. Over the years our forefathers established entire family identities around how this bird was cooked: brined, herbed, slow cooked and of course deep fried. Some might say that the disagreement about the preparation of this bird was the spark that ignited the competitive American spirit.

The bird was to be complimented by starchy foods, and the more the merrier. These menu items introduced the concept of the nap to the New World, a concept that eventually grew into the food coma we enjoy today. The potato was a natural place to start, and over time the meal would also include stuffing, yams, and sweet potatoes. On what other day are you going to eat that many separate carbohydrates, all of which are masked as vegetables? Truly, we have much to be thankful for.

As years went by and elastic waistbands came into vogue, America took the leap forward to adorn the (already) sweet potato with butter and marshmallows, giving hope to all that we might one day earn the title of “fattest country on earth.”

On the third Thanksgiving, one pilgrim woman complained. She feared the change she saw in her village. Her children had given up scampering in favor of lumbering. Everyone was too tired to schlepp to the well, and very few villagers were using the outhouse. She insisted that a green vegetable be included in the Thanksgiving meal. The pilgrims gathered and discussed options with their Native American counterparts and came to the first ever compromise on North American soil: green beans would be allowed at the meal, as long as they were smothered in creamy soup and topped with deep fried onions from a can. Peace was restored in the land.

Americans invented the expression, “More is more.” In that spirit, dessert was added to this meal. The first Americans shared just one pumpkin pie, which was fine until they branched out and realized that nearly anything is delicious when mixed with sugar and baked in a pie shell. People began to argue about which type of pie to serve. They whined, “It’s just not Thanksgiving without a pecan pie!” Crowds nodded their agreement, adding that the same can be said about apple pies, rhubarb pies, chocolate cream pies and cheesecake.

That’s how it came to pass that in any Thanksgiving gathering there will be one full dessert per person. A pie for every pie hole. There’s an innate American need, fostered over hundreds of years, to try just a sliver of each and every one. Because, after all, we don’t want this cornucopia to go to waste. That would make us ungrateful and at odds with the very meaning of this holiday.

Other People’s Problems

Sometimes, when I’m busy not writing my novel, I daydream about finishing my students’ novels. My mind floods with ideas to fill in their story gaps. I dream up surprise endings and pages of snappy dialog. While driving the other day, I decided that one of my student’s characters should have a heavy suitcase at the… Continue Reading

Sports Niceties in Real Life

Spring sports are winding down and the whole thing seems like a blur of driving, costume changes and sandwiches eaten in the car. There was the requisite amount of elbow jabbing, name calling and blood letting. But there were also the niceties of sports, the repeated rituals, words and actions that sort of smooth out… Continue Reading

Is Anyone Else Tired?

Remember when that new, zealous guy started work at your office? The one who thought it would be more productive to come in a few minutes earlier and stay a few minutes later? Next thing you knew, your nine-to-five job was eight-to-six, for the same pay. I wonder if this is what’s happened to motherhood.… Continue Reading

Notes for Next Christmas

I have a friend who has a very thoughtful way of living her life, and I try to pick up her habits when I can. She recently told me that every year after Christmas she takes a few minutes to jot down what worked and what didn’t, so that she doesn’t make the same mistakes… Continue Reading

Wake Me Up When The Election’s Over

We’re almost there, people. The election is just over the hump of the weekend, and the end is actually in sight. I tend to like a salacious and horrifying story, the inner-workings of human drama. But there’s no thrill in this election. It just feels prickly and uncomfortable, like the angora sweater my grandmother bought… Continue Reading

Jigsaw Puzzles With Toddlers

If you’ve ever done a jigsaw puzzle with a two year old, you know what it means to run through the entire range of human emotions. You hope, you cringe, you pull your hair out. At some point, you’ll be disgusted, elated and then relieved. It’s a worthy exercise, and its success depends on your… Continue Reading

Local Woman Gets Angry in Person

The other day I was stopped at an intersection, looking both ways as I’ve been told to do, when the woman in the car behind me started honking repeatedly to encourage me to take the plunge. I wasn’t in the mood for a fiery death, so I waited for the traffic to clear in both… Continue Reading

After Graduation, The Leaving Period

A year ago, a friend of mine whose child had just graduated from high school suggested I write an article about this big milestone. I thought about it and decided to wait. It would have been like writing a guidebook about Paris based on internet research, without actually going there and seeing the light, smelling… Continue Reading

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