Today’s entry was inspired by ‘Daily Musings’. A long time friend and a person who’s blog I highly recommend.
Thanksgiving has different meaning for different people. If you are a retailer, any retailer, it means the kickoff of the Holiday Season. Unfortunately, this is the time of year when most retailers see their ledgers go from the ‘red’ to the ‘black’. I say unfortunately because of late advertisers begin inundating us with advertising before Halloween. My Grandfather used to say, the worse off the economy is, and the worse off people feel, the earlier the Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza (me as Kwanza did not exist when he was alive) begin. Currently I am in Florida, and my mother’s neighbor has her tree up and decorated already. My Mother says it has been up about two weeks now.
My memories of Thanksgiving are good ones. We would get together as a family, and yes it might be different sides on different years. The smell of good food cooking in the kitchen as my Mother would labor away for hours so that we could spend maybe a half hour stuffing our faces and then playing with our cousins.
Many years later I met this girl that would become my wife, the mother of our children, and my bff. I am from a Jewish European American background, and she is from an Italian American background. In our house, she does all of the traditional Jewish Holiday cooking and feasts, and I cook the traditional Italian ‘Gravy’ (I will let you all fight it out as to if it is Gravy or Sauce) for the other holidays and times.
We too alternate years with family but we have it easy. Each side, gets to see us on the appropriate holidays with Thanksgiving as the only one that we have to alternate on.
Many years ago, after my mother moved to Florida, we were invited to the home of someone that my Sister-in-Law was dating. I asked my Grandmother to join us. And she did. Talk about culture shock. Nana wasn’t ready to spend five hours at the dining-room table although I warned her. First came out the antipasto, then the manicotti (pronounced manigot), the bowl of gravy (for this blog I will point out that it was indeed red) with sausage, and meatballs in it and of course bread. Also there were numerous side dishes. Nana leaned over and whispered to me, “No Turkey?” “Wait, I replied, we are just getting started.” And then as we were all stuffing our faces, the hostess (who hadn’t sat down for more then five or ten minutes so far) went into the kitchen and out came this gigantic turkey, with stuffing, sweet potato casserole, vegetables, brown gravy and more bread. All this time glasses were being filled and refilled with wine. Red in the beginning and white when the turkey arrived. I am not sure but I think that the children had a tad bit of red but later were pointed to juice and soda. My Grandmother had never seen anything like this in her life and she told me so. Again my reply was, “wait we are just getting started.” Well she needed to get up and digest a bit so I joined her not wanting her to sit alone in the living-room alone. Being in an Italian home, numerous people kept coming over and asking her if she was alright. When she told them that she was just taking a break to digest and that she was okay, that didn’t stop the advice on what she should do to feel better. Not that she felt sick in the first place.
After a while, I convinced Nana to rejoin the group as it was now desert time. Remember that we were the only ones to leave the table. LOL. We did, Nana was offered coffee to help digest which she had, with one of the hundreds of packets of Sweet ‘N Low that she kept in her pocketbook as the desert trays began to appear, traditional apple pie, pumpkin pie, ice cream to remind us of the ‘American’ Holiday. And of course the traditional Italian eclairs, cannolis (pronounced ganol), pastries, Galiano, Sambuca (with a coffee bean), espresso, and for us lightweights, more regular coffee. Then football on the television, another tradition.
On the ride home my Grandmother kept telling us that she had never been at a table with so much food before and was wondering how people could eat that much. My wife and I just kept poking each other with a finger trying not to crack up. Nana had a great time and I am sure that she spent weeks telling her friends about this amazing feast. I never did tell her, I don’t think, that I told her that that is how it is every Sunday in a Traditional Italian household.
Ah the memories. Ah the Alka Seltzer. Ah the truly ‘good old’ days.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.