A Not-So-Martha-Stewart Thanksgiving

I listen to way too much Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius. So much so that I’m feeling a little impotent this Thanksgiving.

I don’t make a centerpiece from kumquats and pinecones and I feel a little guilty about that. My stuffing is made from a pre-sliced loaf of bread and not homemade, and I didn’t raise my own sweet potatoes fertilized by the droppings of rare Amazon parrots.

Martha slaughters her own turkey. I buy one at the grocery store. At least this year I bought a free-range organic turkey at Whole Foods. It’s a step up, right?

Party Potatoes, I’m sure, won’t be on Martha’s table this year. They are an artery-clogging combination of butter, sour cream and cream cheese that completely negate the nutritional value of potatoes. It’s so far removed from being a vegetable that it should be classified as a dairy.

When my kids were little, I always made enough Party Potatoes for Thanksgiving so they could have them for breakfast the next morning. One year, my youngest daughter got up early and took the lion’s share of potatoes before her sister woke up. This led to a screaming match and tears. “They’re just potatoes,” I said laughing. “No they’re not!” my oldest daughter fired back. “They’re Party Potatoes! You don’t understand!”

My stepsons aren’t real fans of Party Potatoes and my daughters tease them for liking normal mashed potatoes like it’s some kind of embarrassing fetish. I swear they’ll never grow up.

Martha might be amused by our traditional “Black Olives Over The Eyes” photo. Many years ago, my little sister held black olives up to her eyes while I was taking a picture of the table before the feast. Every year since, my girls, stepsons and any other “child” at our table, pose for this classic photo. The photos serve as a history of who dated whom and when.

Of course no one in the photo actually eats black olives and they simply put them back on the relish tray before I have a chance to ask if they’ve washed their hands. It’s kind of gross now that I think about it. How many unsuspecting dinner guests have eaten black olives placed over the eyes of children? Please don’t report me to the Martha Stewart etiquette police.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving is when we sit down at the table about a half hour before the food is ready and we each pray out loud what we’re grateful for, and the rule is that it has to be more meaningful than just grunting “Thanks for the food.” My stepson, Kevin, bets me a dollar every year that I’ll cry when it comes my turn to pray. I’ve not won a bet yet.

This year, as always, I’m grateful for my home and my family. In particular, I am grateful for my new granddaughter, friends old and new, and the opportunities that have sprung from difficulty, i.e. my weight and arthritis issues. I’m grateful for the pain; it has been an invaluable teacher. I’m grateful for the anguish; it has kept my feet on the ground. This year I learned over and over that good can come from bad, but it doesn’t just happen. I am an active participant in my present and future.

I am also grateful for this writing outlet. You all, through your comments and emails, give me a perspective on the joys and concerns of life that I would not have through traditional means. What a gift! Thank you.

I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. Don’t eat too much, maybe take a walk, but mostly, surround yourself with the people who make you happy. That’s something Martha and I agree on.

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