Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I feel I must apologize for being gone for so long. I was considering writing something this month, but since I'm working on NaNoWriMo, I felt guilty writing anything else. As it stands right now, I'm less than 10k words away from the 50k word goal, with 5 days to go! So I may actually win this year, and that's exciting! So I decided to take a break and focus on the upcoming holiday.

I've got a lot to be thankful for. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I've gone through many trials and tribulations, especially during the holidays. For some reason, the holidays are when companies decide to unceremoniously dump people, but not until after you've helped organize their company picnics and holiday parties. This year, I was scared. My current contract was coming to an end, and I didn't know if I would have to start looking for another job.

Thankfully, another opportunity came my way and I get to continue to work for my wonderful company. I'm very happy and relieved, so I can finally let my hair down and take a deep sigh without wondering if I've jinxed myself, and give thanks for all of the things I have to be thankful for. I feel like writing a list is gloating (and tempting fate) so I'm going to focus instead on the best part of the upcoming holiday; food.

I asked everyone on Facebook what their family food traditions are. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is unique in that it's not a religious holiday, so every American celebrates it in their own way. We are a melting pot of traditions and foods that may not have been relevant to the culture we came from, but we find a way to make it our own.

As a first generation American, both my parents are immigrants, so they adapted to American culture throughout the years. We always celebrated Thanksgiving. I remember waking up on Thanksgiving morning to the sound of my parents arguing over the turkey (a sound I still hear to this day) before I have to get dressed for church. At church, our priest gives the usual "give thanks" sermon before he dismisses us early so he can catch the football game. Afterwards, we rush home to change clothes, then rush back to the church so we can play soccer in the field behind it.

That's a Thanksgiving tradition that was unique for my family. A lot of families play Thanksgiving foodball, but we played Thanksgiving soccer. A bunch of people from the church would play with us, and we'd go adults vs kids for a couple of hours until the turkey was done. Then, back home in the car, and finally food.

Man oh man the food. See, my family never really saw the point in all the other sides. We have a small family. Mom, dad, me, and maybe my brother and sister (if they were around) and maybe their kids or wife or husband but it was different every year, and never more than five or six people to sit down and give thanks with prayer over the turkey. So we had a big turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. No vegetables, just meat, bread, and pie. My mom wasn't really big on cooking, so my dad did the turkey.

To this day, whenever people complain about how turkey is gross and dry, I thank my lucky stars that my dad never made me experience that. My dad's turkey is ridiculously moist. So moist in fact that I don't use gravy. The leg meat is my favorite, and I can gnaw on that sucker about halfway until I'm full. So yeah,s crew you and your anti-turkey sentiments, but the star of the show was his stuffing. I don't know if it's because nobody ever told my parents how to make turkey and stuffing, but they figured out this magical combination through many years of trial and error. The stuffing is always somehow different. One year, raisins. One year, craisins. One year, both, and always with walnuts, celery and onions. Then, recently, my dad started adding moonshine.

Yes, moonshine.

Don't ask where he got it, because his explanation is "some guys at work".

Being that my dad is a member of the laborer's union, he always worked outside. He was a welder working for VDOT for much of my life, so a lot of his friends were also laborers. This is a class of Americans that still work with their hands, and are proud to do so. They've got all sorts of negative nicknames; rednecks, ghetto, wetbacks, ratchet, cracker, spic. They're the blue collar middle-to-low class of America, and they come in every different color. My dad was one of them, and they accepted him. They would trade stories about their kids, and sometimes they would trade stuff.

So sometimes, dad came home with Civil War bullets from a friend who was really into Civil War stuff. Sometimes, he'd bring home some kind of food a coworker's wife made for everyone. Stuff from India, China, the south, wherever that guy was from. And one day, he brought back moonshine, so. Into the stuffing it went.

The stuffing has never been the same. It has only been better.

This is my America. This mixture of cultures that makes us all different, but wholly special. Nowadays, I bring pumpkin tartlets made with Stevia (because we have diabetics in the family), and my mom cooks more vegetables. But that turkey is still the moistest most delicious %&$*ing bird I've ever had, and the stuffing makes me lightheaded just thinking about it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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