Thursday, November 22, 2012

Instead of Sheep

This morning, when I was browsing online, I happened to see Marilyn Monroe's turkey recipe. Written in pencil on a sheet from a City Title Insurance Company pad (telephone? GArfield1-8530), it was a fascinating window into a real person who happened to also be Marilyn Monroe.

In my family, one of our traditional dishes is an oyster casserole. It was always on the table at my Aunt Sis's house where we spent the holiday each year, and the story is that the recipe came from Rosemary Clooney, via a mutual friend. The other must have from those days is mashed yellow turnip. When I was a child, those were the things I hated most, but now I personally prepare them for our meal.

Earlier in the week, I heard someone say that Thanksgiving is a time when emotions are close to the surface. I couldn't fully agree, until she made the further point that it is a time when our traditions, while comforting, are also reminders of those who are no longer at the table.

There is a lovely essay by Michael Chabon in the November issue of Bon Apetite magazine in which he warns that the act of returning to the same table, to the same people and the same dishes--to the same traditions--can blind you to life's transience. It can lull you into believing that some things, at least, stay the same. And if that's what you believe, then what have you got to be grateful for? He advises us to be thankful not for what we have, but rather for what we have lost.

Today I am thankful for both.

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