Thoughts on Thanksgiving Dinner

Contributed by Marilyn Bennett

Thanksgiving... A day to look back on the past year and give thanks for the good harvest. A day to prepare the traditional turkey dinner with a pumpkin pie, to round off the meal. A day to enjoy the company of your many relatives and celebrate the beginning of the Holiday Season.

Why is this Stressful?

In the past, all we had to be concerned about was when Uncle George arrived drunk and in a foul temper. Or, cousin Henry continued a childhood fight with your brother. But, this year we also have the nastiest political climate since the 60’s. So, all bets are off for getting through a calm family dinner.

The political climate would be bad enough, but these days we have to be concerned about a variety of food allergies or other eating disorders: vegans, vegetarians, organic food Nazis, gluten free eaters, nut allergies, lactose intolerance and a host of other less popular maladies.

Lets get real… Gluten, wheat and dairy are in almost everything.

Of course, you can suggest the person with the food problem bring their own food, but that could mean you would be forced to at least taste such delightful entries as: Vegan black bean nut loaf, pumpkin pie mash made with coconut oil for dessert, “Un-candied” yams with coconut flakes instead of marshmallows, vegan oat muffins instead of a pie, gluten free stuffing made with kale or raw apple-pumpkin energy balls.

That being said, I did make sure that most of the foods served were suitable for the diabetic in our family.

But, on checking the web for recipes for diabetics, I found that there were many websites devoted to food safety. That is a subject, which my husband’s Aunt Milly was always concerned about. She would come into the kitchen and begin asking me questions like: “Did you thaw your turkey on the counter overnight?” She would follow that up with “You know, that allows the food to be in the Temperature Danger Zone too long”.

Then, as my temperature started to approach the danger zone, she would ask, “what temperature did you cook the turkey at?”

If I answered correctly, she would still continue on with… “Did you stick your meat thermometer in the thickest parts of the turkey, to ensure it reached an internal temperature of 165° F?”

Then, she would continue the interrogation, by asking if all the vegetables were Organic. At this point, I start humming so that my husband knew I had reached my maximum harassment quotient and he would come into the kitchen to rescue me. Since she was technically part of his family, I felt he did have some obligation to keep up the happy family facade.

Aunt Milly was then done, until after we finished eating. At that point, she would quickly gather up all of the uneaten food on the table and rush it to the refrigerator, all the while admonishing us about the dangers we faced. It seems that she had heard that we must not allow the food to cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge. Apparently, the fact that we had all lived many years without dying from room temperature food did not make this year any less dangerous.

I could have handled Aunt Milly, if she had been the only irritating relative. But there was my skinny sister-in-law, Sue, who only picked at the small portion of food on her plate. Then as she daintily eats a small bite she tells us that she considers Thanksgiving a holiday that celebrates gluttony. It is hard to argue with her about gluttony with a mouthful of food, so we all just let her go on making everyone uncomfortable.

Talk about stress... Then, she tells us that studies show the average American gains 2 to 8 pounds over ‘the holidays’.

What is there to say to that? Except: “Lets all enjoy being gluttons over the Holidays and gain that 2 to 8 pounds”.

This makes for an easy New Years resolution: “I hereby resolve to lose that holiday weight before next Thanksgiving”.