2017-11-24 / Commentary

A Traditional Thanksgiving

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation
Mike Cox

I read an article last week that told uninformed readers the traditional Thanksgiving foods one should avoid in order to have a pleasurable holiday experience. I’m not sure if the writer was championing healthy eating, ease of preparation, or personal preference, but, like a lot of information these days, the focus was on what one person had learned in a lifetime of barely two decades.

Thanksgiving is a strange holiday. Uniquely American and focusing on gluttony, providence, and shaky history, it is commemorated on Thursday; which either intentionally overlooks weekend carryover, or almost forces employers to offer Black Friday as a throw in.

We recognize getting through the winter alive, and we do it by overeating. Each section of the country celebrates a traditional Thanksgiving but in many different ways. This article takes a few of the more clichéd dishes and criticizes them for different reasons. The writer, Ciara Applebaum, was born in Texas, lived all over the world but chose to permanently reside in New York City. Consider that as you read.

The first no-no is cranberry sauce. Not the kind made with fresh ingredients, love, and time, but that canned stuff that looks like a science experiment. You know, the kind everybody secretly loves. I’m not a fan, but then I’m not a fan of the real stuff either. I favor having real dessert, which means chocolate, rather than substituting sweet dishes like cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, or ambrosia.

All these things made the list of banned Thanksgiving dishes, all because of calories. If you are worried about healthy eating during Turkey Day, you might as well not observe the holiday at all. The fact she added pecan pie and dinner rolls solidifies my suspicion the article is about clicks rather than smart eating. Everyone likes pecan pie and everyone brings dinner rolls. These two are more traditional for Thanksgiving than watching the Detroit Lions get their butts kicked.

Speaking of tradition, like with politics and many other things, we are seeing an upheaval in traditions around Thanksgiving. I think the primary reason might be interstate highways and increased airline travel.

People once stayed close to home. If someone moved away for a job, they stayed away. The 80 percent of people who settled within 20 miles of where they were born were content to live like their parents, never question what used to be, and eat Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma’s.

Southern people ate turkey with cornbread dressing, added some pork, and provided potatoes, green beans, and corn, cooked to death as the Lord intended.

Those folks unlucky enough to reside north of the Mason Dixon Line suffered through a turkey stuffed with white bread and a few vegetables with the flavor surgically removed. Then transplanted individuals started mixing things up.

Its been a decade or more since I’ve had real cornbread dressing and I’ve learned to eat squeaky green beans without getting chill bumps. I’ve adjusted to certain things for the sake of tranquility and have added crawfish rice dressing and Brussels sprouts to my favorites list. Still no cranberry sauce on my plate. Science project or homemade.

And dessert involves chocolate; no exceptions.

Return to top