In my family, we have an unwavering Thanksgiving menu, with very little to no variation from one year to the next. We are Thanksgiving purists, strict literalists of the Turkey Day canon: turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes. We never bow to the fickle winds of fashion; there are no trendy updates of old favorites, no wacky frying of turkeys in the garage, no sous vide anything. (Christmas, though, is a whole different story. Perhaps I’ll share with you our adventures in turducken and glögg another time.)
Why we couldn’t forget the tired old fruit cocktail just once, I’ll never know, but traditions die slow deaths with my people. We finally dispensed with my great-grandmother’s customary Waldorf salad but continue to serve the mashed turnips that nobody likes because they were my grandfather’s favorite. Which is really lovely in a way, but the man died over thirty-five years ago.
Despite the steady sameness of our menu, somehow the cranberry sauce is always an afterthought. To wit: for three years running, my mother purchased jarred sauce and forgot to put it on the table. This has always felt suspicious to me, considering my mother has the dining room table set a full two weeks ahead of the holiday and the silver is polished and ready for action shortly after Halloween. (Entertaining is Susie’s time to shine and the woman is organized.) But somehow the cranberry sauce always gets ditched.
So here’s to a happy holiday season, to glögg and mashed turnips, to forgotten cranberry sauce and to family. To the people we love, the ones who drive us crazy, who insist on fruit cocktail because that’s how we always do it, who take care of us and make us what we are. Here’s to health and roofs over heads, and to good food and good wine shared in gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!