Posted tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Not so thankful for injected juices–pre-meal moan.

November 24, 2011


Oh for the days when turkeys were not shot up after their miserable overcrowded deaths.

Oh for the days when the cook would rub her sweaty brow through hours of desperate braising,

Oh for the days when everyone sat around reassuring the braised cook that the turkey really wasn’t awfully dry and, um, could they have a little more gravy.

Oh for the days pre-pre-injected juices.

Nanowrimo Up…. Date? (Made It Through Thanksgiving)

November 28, 2010


So, what time is it?

What day is it again?

Some day at the end of November.

Thanks have been given without unpleasant incident.  Even as I say that, my ever gloomy mind comes up with mishaps and disappointments that loomed large a couple of days ago (a child who couldn’t make it, a parent who fell en route to a video call).  Even so, the holiday came and went with no regret for never having mastered the Heimlich maneuver, and with a fair amount of tap and other dancing.   That has to count as a win.

Speaking of “winning,” I amassed today the 50,000 word count for “victory” in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month.)  I cannot pretend to have written a novel,  but only a relatively large number of words.  This may account for the lack of ebullience, I feel today (whatever day it is).

Still, I have learned something important this Nanowrimo month:  that I, that you, that probably almost all of us, have a lot more free time and imagination than we generally think we do.

My gloomy side chimes in: ‘yes, and possibly we have a lot less time than we think as well.’    (Darn you, gloomy side!)

So, what time was that again?  Time to get going.


“Black Friday” Bizarreness – Perfectionism Poem

November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving passed kind of magically.  (It helps to have daughters who cook amazingly well, and your end of the table colonized by several teatotallers and a random bottle of champagne.)

So now it’s “Black Friday.”   Mad shopping before the next day dawns.  (Isn’t Thanksgiving a time to feel blessed with what we already have?  Can’t we continue to feel blessed through a whole disgestion cycle?)

As awful as the concept is, the name is even worse:  “Black Friday” connotes (i) a Stock Market Crash, (ii) a Stock Market Crash, (iii) a Stock Market Crash.  (Also,  maybe, Crazy Eddy cavorting with scythe and death mask.)

I hate to say it, but a “successful” Black Friday feels almost as bad to me as a dismal one.  I’m all for an improved economy (and I understand that it will take a long time before our economy is not dependent on rampant consumerism), but when I read the numbers, I can’t help but thinking of trees cut down, mountains mined, oceans warmed, sweatshops sweated in; children even more cut off from non-gadget, non-plastic, forms of play; and huge, huge, garbage dumps.

I’ve always had a conflict with Christmas shopping—my sense of duty to the environment and to my children’s character (and tuition payments), coupled with the imprint of my mother, a daughter of the Great Depression–all  doing pitched battling with (i) what is expected of me in our consumer culture,  (ii) what I’d genuinely like to give, and (iii) a need to do things right, to please people, to be loved.

More on this in future posts.  In the meantime, shopping, plus Thanksgiving, plus autumnal re-thinking of life in general, brings up that age-old issue of perfectionism, and… a poem:

The Perfectionist’s Heart

The perfectionist’s heart is more than smart,
a nest of what went wrong long ago,
a litany rewritten, how we explain ourselves,
the embroidery of ‘if only’, a thread
tracking a trail as it tries to find a past
that will make this present a present, the lining silver,
turning randomness and chance to steps along a path,
a math that will equal all sides up, proof
that we have lived our lives correctly,
that for the certain values given, we came up with
the only possible solution,
and that possible means best.

All rights reserved, Karin Gustafson.

P.S.  – Speaking of consumerism:  if you are doing Christmas shopping for young childen, check out 1 Mississippi on Amazon.  I’m hoping to have my own website set up soon for discounted sales.  If you are interested in the meantime in a discount, feel free to write me at  (Sorry!)

“Is That Gravy Hot Enough?”

November 25, 2009

When I think of my childhood Thanksgivings, I think of heat—the torrid kitchen with its blasts from oven and stove, the shaking of the slightly burned fingers of grown women who, in the heat of the moment, touched a still-baking roll or potato to ascertain “doneness,” the steam shooting up from a skillet, as if from a manhole cover, of boiling celery, onions, and the one or two sticks of real butter that my mother allotted us during the course of the average year.  (Fears of heart disease and ignorance of trans fat made us a strictly margarine family except, oddly, in the case of turkey stuffing.)

I think of the red patches on my Aunt Ginny’s otherwise pale cheeks.  She spent almost every Thanksgiving of my childhood with us and was a real jump-into-the-breach cook.  (An oldest child, she’d take over the kitchen even when there was not a breach.)

I think of my mother’s mounting tension both with the meal and her sister.  (My aunt focused on food; my mom liked things “nice.”)   Even when my aunt was not around to help cook, my mother, at a certain juncture in the meal prep, would lose herself in elaborate table decorations, mixing greenery (autumnal) with an assortment of glassware, figurines, assorted holiday tableware.

But the heat I think of mainly relates to the temperature of the food.  This was a priority for my mother—getting everything on the table while still piping hot, but not yet overcooked; making those of the male persuasion break away from televised football; squeezing people into the jammed-together furniture with some expedition and no accidents; finally, finally, getting my dad to rush though the heartfelt hem-haw of the prayer,  all before the gravy congealed.

Serving food as hot as my mother wanted (which required steam to emanate) was a nearly impossible task, even though she applied herself full bore.  “Is this hot enough?… shouldn’t I reheat that gravy?” were not only standard Thanksgiving repartee but an ongoing source of discord.   (The addition of wine, with its concomitant notion of savoring, would have been useful.)

Part of my mother’s obsession was a kind of perfectionism.  But what made the task so difficult (aside from the football game) was the sheer number of dishes.   A working mother, she felt an intense pressure to prove her ability to accommodate, to please those both present and absent, to perform.

As a result, there were not only sweet potatoes, but mashed (white–she called them Idaho) potatoes.  There was not only cole slaw, but lettuce with two types of gelled aspic—tomato and cranberry.  There was not only turkey stuffing made with dried fruit, but also stuffing made without dried fruit;  not only a roast turkey, also a roast ham; not only gravy but a mustardy rain sauce (for the ham),  not only peas, but broccoli and, depending on who was there, creamed corn or creamed onions; not only gravy but cooked cranberry sauce, canned jellied cranberry, raw cranberry-orange relish and pineapple (for the ham); not only white rolls but pumpernickel, not only dill pickles but sweet gherkins, pickled onions, herring, rye crisps, cheese, sour cream, chives (she’d sometimes throw in some white baked potatoes); not only pumpkin pie, but mince meat pie (sometimes also pecan or apple);  not only whipped cream but cool whip.  Coffee, ginger ale, punch.

With so much pleasing going on, her patience was bound to be short.  I don’t remember that many true arguments, but I do know that you had better tell her, repeatedly, (i) that everything was plenty hot, and (ii) that the question of food heat was a very important one.  (Oh yes, and the turkey hadn’t dried out.)

The stress of the day itself made the day after feel especially blessed—those leftover turkey sandwiches, that now soggy cole slaw, that buttery turkey stuffing, tasted especially good when eaten straight from the fridge.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(PS- Just want to say that as a working mother (or mother, period), I now have a great deal of sympathy for my mom.  I’m not quite sure how she did it all, only know that she did.)


PS- as a working mother, who also tries (i) to prove her ability to (ii) accommodate many, I now have a great deal of sympathy for my mom.  I’m not, in fact, quite sure how she did it all.  (Thank goodness for the aunt!)