There’s nothing like the smells associated with the holidays. Rosemary, thyme and sage are mixed with nutmeg, butter and cinnamon. It’s weird and wonderful how the mere whiff of them can send us each down our own path of reminiscence. Yet, we all know that producing those smells is another matter entirely.
Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner is no joke but every year households across the country embark on a menu the organization of which sometimes can rival even the busiest commercial kitchens. No matter if it’s for 2 or 20, cooks young and old will lay out their prep schedules for maximum assurance of a timely, aka early, dinner.
My hat really goes out to the family inn keepers who have to host as well as feed the arriving minions; theirs is some serious double duty. Yet with a combination of Top Sergeant toughness and Martha Stewart gentility, these women and sometimes men welcome, entertain, feed and house their guests before summarily packing them up and sending them on their way, happy that they’d come and looking forward to visiting again next year.
It’s tiring, it’s hectic and it’s stressful; yet, we willingly do it over and over again every year. Why, because it’s family, pure and simple. We enjoy the arrival of the conclave and the impending, usual arguments that are bound to happen. We look forward to meeting those relatives we didn’t know we had and beginning new relationships. It’s that sort of time; a time that seems to wheedle families into enduring each other for just one day, if no more.
Nevertheless, it’s that very thing that seems to be in trouble right now.
As I sit in front of the TV with my own dinner in a good place logistically, almost every commercial is promoting what retailers I’m sure, hope will become a new cultural and holiday trend. They’re selling Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving and if successful the move will not only stretch an already holiday-burdened retail staff to its limit, seizing on what little seasonal family time is presently afforded them but also will change that dynamic that’s been a part of Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember.
It used to be that the day was sacrosanct, like Christmas, in that it was unheard of to even be open for business and any hunting for bargains started at the midnight hour, basically Friday. After dinner wives and other ladies of the homes would join their family members and guests, in front of the TV, watching the game or a movie, or simply relaxing in the congratulatory after glow of a successful holiday meal rather than going out and about cavorting with the likes of Washington, Jackson and Lincoln; not to mention those rabble rousers Franklin and Grant.
But seriously, it can only happen, this whole theft of Thanksgiving thing, if we allow it to. And I’m betting on people’s ability to see through what is just another attempt to get more money out of our pockets, even earlier than normal for the season.
So as we sit down to eat and give thanks to that which we hold dear, let’s not forget about the time used and the effort spent to allow us to enjoy this relatively short period together. Consider that even though we didn’t think we’d have enough of it to get done what we needed to get done, we did. Let’s remember those tears that may have been shed depending on that ever-changing number of mouths needing to be fed. And no matter how much we may have cussed or cried the days leading up to Thursday, let’s keep in mind that once it’s over, we’re always glad we put in the hours. Besides, there’s no shame in crying or cussing. After all, it’s logistics and it’s not for the faint of heart.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!