A time to give thanks – with or without the green bean casserole

By Joanne Peterson | Nov 25, 2013

Some people refer to Thanksgiving as Turkey Day, a frivolous label I’ve long rejected.  Really, Thanksgiving is a day for being thankful, not for honoring the turkey, right?

Of course, the turkey presumably could choose any number of happier ways to be honored. Anyway, I know lots of people who say Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday and—especially—that Thanksgiving dinner is their favorite meal.

For some reason, most families I know wouldn’t think of varying the Thanksgiving menu—although, since my children have been grown, they’ve made clear to me that the traditional salt-and-fat-laden green bean casserole with French fried onions is not welcome at their table.

Really? Generations of Americans have eaten that dish every Thanksgiving since pilgrim times, I’d guess. My grandmother made it, and my mother did, and then I did—but I think roasted mixed root vegetables with fennel and olive oil or some such took over.  I like those foods, too.

Still, Thanksgiving seems to call for turkey and dressing, potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce—or at least I tend to think of it that way.  In truth, my family is celebrating Thanksgiving early this year, and we are not eating traditionally.

On the Monday before Thanksgiving, we’ll be gathering at my daughter Lisa and son-in-law Eric’s home. My son Brad, his wife Debbie and 10-year-old Annika will be there, as will my brother and I. Adam and Abby will get to play with their grown-up cousin—and we’ll all sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner which will include a seafood pasta dish Debbie is preparing. I don’t actually know what all else we are going to be eating, but I am clinging to one tradition and baking pumpkin pie, just as my mother did every Thanksgiving.

I also am baking an apple pie, as my family’s fondness for pumpkin pie seems not much greater than their fondness for the aforementioned green bean concoction.  It is possible that my daughter has not had great fondness for pumpkin pie ever since she and I impulsively purchased a mediocre grocery store pumpkin pie in a foil pie plate, took it home, divided it and ate the whole thing. She was in high school, I think.  (I was old enough to know better.)

When I say I don’t know what we are having for our Thanksgiving dinner—besides a seafood hot dish and two pies—I really am saying I don’t care what we eat. I am simply thrilled that for the first time in many years, my son and daughter and their families will be together for Thanksgiving, a few days early.  And I’ll be with them, counting my blessings.  I hope you have blessings to count, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

(By the way, I’ll be at my cousin Carrie’s house on Thanksgiving Day for another holiday meal-- turkey and dressing and cranberries, the traditional foods.  I am sorry to report that Carrie suggested I not bring the green bean casserole. )

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