While the news was full of stories providing suggestions of how to do Thanksgiving differently this year, my husband and I didn't have that challenge...because it's always been just the two of us, to do whatever we want, however we want. It doesn't honestly bother me to not be at a huge table, and over the last six years we've watched our circle shrink considerably as after the devastating ordeals we've been through, we learned very deeply who our real friends are, who our chosen family are, who we can trust...and who we realized is best left to do their thing outside of our world. We've also learned over the past year about individuals we thought were of higher character than they really were, seeing the truth shine out through hate speech and various forms of exceptionalism. I had a wonderful conversation with a friend the other day about how DNA has nothing to do with the concept of real family, and it was so nice to hear someone else reiterate how my husband and I feel. If your biologicals are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or other forms of bigoted? You don't have to choose to spend time with them. My husband and I have always been adamant about keeping the energy positive in our house and if we have to end relationships with those who have clearly no interest in sharing that positive energy, we have never had a problem politely and firmly showing them the door. As Amber Ruffin succinctly said in the video I shared the other day:
"If you create a space for racists to thrive, they will...Giving racists your time and energy is like giving a seed water and light, it helps them grow...You don't owe them anything, especially forgiveness...Your sympathy and empathy are important gifts, but you don't have to give those gifts away at the expense of your humanity....You don't have to be sweet to everyone! Searching for the goodness in someone who thinks nothing of you is how they condition us to become accustomed to being treated like shit."
I cannot think of anything more painful than to spend time with people who are filled with disdain for those who are another color, sexuality, ethnicity, who are from another country, and/or who choose not to practice religion or practice one other than their own. More than 260,000 have died from COVID-19 as of this week and I think of my clients who've been sick and friends who've quarantined (one doing it right now), and still am in disbelief how folks can blow off mask orders, shutdowns, social distancing requirements, curfews, and other health mandates designed to protect more from dying. And 70 million people in this country voted for hate and against science.
So this Thanksgiving, my husband and I celebrate OUR love, OUR life together, and as importantly, OUR health. We celebrated the election of the amazing Kamala Harris as the first woman to reach the Vice Presidency. We thanked each other for being each other's rock during a year that saw our last chance at parenthood, my consulting practice, and our bucket list of travel plans dissolve. We reminded ourselves that We Are Alive...and that we will find our way through this pandemic, as we have with everything else.
And that's worth cooking for. Cooking a week's worth of food for, for that matter...
We've been making soul food on Thanksgiving for our entire marriage and yesterday was no exception. From top left: Organic/Local Green Beans with home-cured bacon and locally-picked chanterelles; Browned Butter Maple Cornbread with all-organic ingredients in the cast-iron skillet handed down to me; Our Thanksgiving Dinner Table (way cool to have it on the dining table I built earlier this year, as we've always served ourselves in the kitchen before that)!; French Apple Tart (after breaking my pie dish last week I tried a new recipe to utilize my tart pan and, YUM, it rocked...) with organic Granny Smiths, brushed with homemade pomegranate syrup and ultimately topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream; Pulled Pork (another new recipe as I usually integrate the BBQ sauce but this time wanted to use the left overs for non-bbq recipes, so this one is a simpler ACV and spice-based one) made from Oregon's own Tails & Trotters pork shoulder which my husband the butcher cut at work; Candied Yams with organic yams, butter and brown sugar, topped with vegan vanilla marshmallows; Organic/Local Collard Greens fattened up with leftover pork skin from our recently cured bacon; and last but not least, my infamous Kick Ass Mac & Cheese that is chock full of organic dairy including 5 cheeses (I've been known to use as many as 7) and topped with crushed garlic melba toast. It's crazy good.
And yeah, with this much dairy involved (total count: 6 cubes of butter, 1 quart of buttermilk, 1 pint of half & half, and 1 pint of Snoqualmie vanilla ice cream), our tummies were a bit devastated by evening, but being able to just veg out in front of the TV afterwards, sip on more red wine and watch old movies? Perfection.
The biggest change, beyond the tart-replacing-pie decision, was that I cooked up the pulled pork in the slow cooker the day before. Our yams use the same crockpot, so I was glad to have done that in advance as Thanksgiving always tests the limits of my multi-tasking skills! We decided that next year we're going to cut every recipe in half, which still will allow for some leftovers without making us feel like total slugs by having mac for breakfast, lunch, and....you get the picture. Husband and I have amped up our percentage of vegetarian meals as well this past month and I've been on the elliptical/bike every day for 2 weeks, so we're looking forward to returning to that.
Ah yes, and my husband's "what am I thankful for" toast put me into tears. He's a keeper :)
How did you celebrate Thanksgiving this year? What was the highlight?