Transitions are tough.
No, I don’t mean the current political transition in the US; that’s another blog unto its own… What I mean is the personal transition that each of us has had to make as we approach the most important holiday in the U.S. this year. The one that is non-denominational, non-political and inspired by two opposing parties, the Pilgrims and the Indians — the oppressor and the oppressed — sharing a meal, a life-saving meal, based simply on only what the land had to give, on essentials that were locally available. This is the ultimate charm of Thanksgiving. The one holiday that is most meaningful for me personally. After a year of indulgences, there is a holiday that represents a downshift. It is back to basics. Simple. Real. Rustic. Nourishing. Life-giving. Thanks-giving.
Ever since I came to America, I had the good fortune of experiencing the welcoming embrace of families hosting young immigrants at their homes for the holidays. As an undergraduate student, I fell in love with this grounding holiday: It came during the chill of winter just when you needed warmth the most, and I adopted it with a passion. Inspired by those who hosted orphan students and student families at their homes for this special meal, as we became a family unit, we too began the tradition of hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at our home for students from all over the world, whose families were far away.
There was something so extremely gratifying and fulfilling about giving. We began a tradition of hosting Thanksgiving – in Baltimore, in Boston, and here in New Jersey.
But this year will be different as we set only three seats at a table that usually hosts about 24 people. One can be saddened, but I am not. Because it is the right thing to do – to not gather this year. It the only way to fend off the virus – until we have a vaccine, that is – and to be safe and keep others safe. It is a small sacrifice to make so that we can gather with friends and family next year at a large Thanksgiving table. We can give thanks this year to the power of technology, which allows us to wish each other virtually and enjoy a virtual meal if we so desire.
I write this as I plan our tiny Thanksgiving meal at that table for three. In case you are wondering, I am not cutting any corners. We will still cook our turkey (maybe just a breast or a roulade). Sharvan will cook it much as he usually does, causing great chaos in the kitchen, along with his famous jalapeño cranberry chutney. I will make Seema’s famous tortilla soup, and smashed fingerling potatoes with Aleppo peppers, and quinoa-stuffed poblano peppers with corn. Ambar will bake his pumpkin pie. Of course, we will make something green (beans or broccolini). As always we will have enough turkey left for Popcorn, who loves Thanksgiving for the mere joy and dog dream of the leftover turkey! It will be a challenge to make these dishes just for three, but who cares? The leftovers and the innovation involved in converting them all week long after Thanksgiving is half the fun.
Here’s wishing you a great Thanksgiving, and hope you are thanking and giving and making best of the simple joys of good health, safety, and gratitude.
Read how to create that perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape.