We almost didn’t “do” Thanksgiving this year. Between a hectic schedule and no holiday time, the summer heat and the lack of friends/family around I thought no one will even notice if we skip it. Perhaps, I thought, we could do it next July when it feels like the right temperature. Then I came to my senses. It is my most favourite holiday of the year. How can you compare a fab meal with loved ones and no pressies to any of the other stress inducing dates on the calendar?
It was 9:30am on Thanksgiving Day when I decided to man up, make a shopping list and pull it all together before 3pm school pick up. Easy-peasy. I ran to one store then two looking for all my groceries. Cranberries were nowhere to be found. Come to think of it, I’d never seen them in Sydney. This could be a problem, I thought, then I called Stephen who ran to a local market near work and scored the mother-load. Oh yeah, it was on.
I was encouraged by my Aussie girlfriends who called to enquire about my menu and our American holiday. My excitement grew as a result, thank you ladies.
One by one the dishes came together. First the cornbread, then a pumpkin pie with a cheeky caramel sauce and candied pecans, sweet potato casserole, and next some roasted Brussel sprouts. I was on a roll and the hours were passing swiftly.
I started to question my sanity as the 200-degree oven warmed our home for many hours on a 25 C day. Two batches of candied pecans found their way into the rubbish as twice I answered the phone and walked away forgetting the oven. Not a problem, I just started again, third time’s a charm. I sweat and cursed under my breath as I worked a knife like a scalpel to carefully remove the seeds from each mandarin slice to make an ambrosia salad. Such good thinking I thought, ambrosia salad for a humid day, ha!
My girls came home overjoyed to hear I changed my mind, quickly putting on their best frocks and choosing to take control over the setting of the table. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo and there was china, crystal and candles sparkling on my scarred Ikea table now transformed from sooty Cinderella to the talk of the ball.
Just had to wait for the man of the house to return with my cranberry supply to round out our meal. The kids watched the required A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and we discussed the meaning of the holiday. They loved the story of the pilgrims and Native Americans until I dropped the ending on them…the slap in the face that was given back to the Indians. Their little jaws dropped. Disbelief as they questioned whether or not it was a true story.
I think we should take a lesson from the Aussies and say thanks to the Indigenous Americans before our own grace, before any public speaking whatsoever. Yeah, this is where all of you fall on the floor laughing. Will never happen.
In our home, in the last days of spring in Sydney, we celebrate all of the things that we are thankful for: our friends, family, the food on our table, the roof over our heads, our health and our ability to experience life in a non-traditional way. Today I am filled with gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!