Tuesday, November 21, 2006



1. GIVE THANKS. GET FED. It's the one and only requirement of the day--though when you think of it, you could live a lifetime on that solitary rule. It's also one holiday that hasn't been infiltrated and drained of zest by consumerism.

2. The happy noise of arrivals.

3. Vegetables! Lots of them, and in some of my favorite colors, too.

4. Traditions. In our family, we all write down one thing we're thankful for and put them into a cup. Just before dinner, we take turns drawing one out, reading it aloud, and guessing who said it. One rule: you can't say anything you used in a previous year. (That prevents boring people like me from saying "my family" every time.)

5. You can eat pie, pecan or pumpkin, apple or even the dreaded mince (my mother's favorite) without an ounce of guilt. In fact, it's practically a duty.

6. The naps. Take the deadly combination of wine, tryptophan laden turkey, and heavy desserts, mix with the drone of an endless football game, add a grey November day and what do you get? The best naps of the year.

7. The little white onions. I don't know about you, but Thanksgiving is the only occasion that would ever persuade me to undertake the laborious task of peeling those things. But on that one day, they're indispensible.

8. Memory. Holidays are frequently minefields of remembering, of feeling the absence of those whose presence once colored the day, but who have now left behind a colorless void.

That's when you have to hold fast to the Thanksgiving rule. Remember? "Give thanks. Get fed." On every other day of the year, you can think about loss, but not on Thanksgiving. This is a day to be grateful for all the ways the absent enriched our lives, and continue to enrich it.

9. Leftovers! Cook enough and you may not have to prepare another meal for a week or until no one ever wants to see another mound of stuffing as long as they live--or for at least another year.

10. The entire family around the table at one time. Whether it's just like it used to be, or just like it never was, whether it's a party of two or a crowd of twenty-two, whether you're seated next to your favorite aunt, or the cousin you never could stand, Thanksgiving is a chance to embrace each other and be grateful for one another-- in our joy and in our lack, in our abundance, and in all our glorious imperfections.

A happy one to all!

Now does anyone have a number 11?


Sustenance Scout said...

The little sweet pickles, Patry! I think I'm the only one who eats them, but I buy them anyway. I love those noisy arrivals, too, and wish we could somehow make one at my mom's house in Syracuse tomorrow. We'll be there in spirit, at any rate! Have a colorful, hug-filled holiday. K.

Zhoen said...

Oh, I used to love the sweet baby gherkins.

Mom was Canadian, and had no use for Thanksgiving, so it was the one day of the year that she never cooked, leftovers and parades on TV, reading books, and lounging around.

I love Thanksgiving, and make my own cranberry sauce from berries, dead simple and wonderful. We often celebrate with friends the day after, when no one works nor has to be with family. All good.

rdl said...

Happy Thanksgiving!!

DTclarinet said...

Happy T-day to you, too.

I love your family tradition of putting "gratitude ideas" into a cup and then guessing who said them. I'll try it this year.

Since I'm making and hosting the dinner, I'll keep reminding myself of the part about giving thanks...

Always a thoughtful and spirited post from you.

Patry Francis said...

k: Colorful, hug-filled holidays are the best kind, but I seem to have missed out on the little sweet pickles. Is that a Thanksgiving tradition in your family?

zhoen: Mmm...I love homemade cranberry sauce, but for some reason I can't explain, my family is completely hooked on the Ocean Spray jellied kind. But in the end, as you say, it's all good.

r: I forgot to ask; are you cooking?

garnet: I'd love to hear how the cup idea goes over in your house. We have a couple of family members who protest every year, but the kids keep it going.

kenju said...

Don't tell my husband that you do the little white onions, because he would make a bee-line for your home!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Patry Francis said...

kenju: Your husband is welcome to pop by for onions anytime--as long as he brings you along.

Susan said...

Hi Patry,
Stopping by to let you know I'm thinking of you and the shared loss we now share on Thanksgiving. Wishing you good memories and a lovely day of cooking and family.

gerry rosser said...

Living to see it happen, how's that for #11?

Happy Thaksgiving.

Lorna said...

I was grateful just to read this post.

Anonymous said...

11. Alcohol. Nothing like a good beer to wash everything down. :)

Anonymous said...

11. Alcohol. Nothing like a good beer to wash everything down. :)

Anonymous said...

Health...and the ability to use this forum to connect with incredible souls like you. Happy Thanksgiving, Patry!

Anonymous said...

great list! i'm looking forward to the nap, myself. :)
have a great thanksgiving!

Shannon Hopkins said...

Being Irish I didn't grow up with it. I like using it as an example in class of the difference between denotation and connotation, though. It always gets an interesting discussion going, especially if there are Native American students in the class. In the last few years I have been "adopted" by a wonderful family. Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday, even though they're Portuguese (!), and it's a wonderful time of milling kids and dogs, huge plates of Portuguese food mixed in with the traditional turkey, and just general pleasure in life. So I guess I would say #11 for me would be the pleasure being adopted by a lovely Portuguese family and getting to experience a mix of traditional and non-traditional foods, as well as unqualified love.

B.S. said...

11. My "new" family, now that the biological one has disintegrated. Fortunately, there always seem to be people out there to take up the slack when traditional family isn't available.

Happy Thankksgiving!


JP (mom) said...

11. The big black olives that the kids like to stick on their fingers! Happy Thanksgiving! Much peace, JP

Patry Francis said...

susan: Thank you so much for remembering. I was thinking of you today, too.

gerry: It doesn't get any better than that!

lorna: And I'm always grateful to see your name here. Thinking of you this Thanksgiving.

cliff: You won't get any argument from me on that one.

marilyn: It is amazing, isn't it?

ruby: Every couch was taken today, but I did manage to squeeze in next to hubs. Hope you had a great one!

tarakuanyin: We have a large Portuguese and Brazilian community here on the Cape; and I'd have to agree: both the food and the hospitality are wonderful. Hope you had kale soup!

Betty: Cheers to family, wherever we find it! I like your spirit--

deborah: We didn't have any black olives; now I'm feeling guilty that the kids were deprived...

Sustenance Scout said...

Patry, you'll need to add sweet pickles and black olives to your list for next year! We have funny photos of nephews with olive fingers. Silly stuff. And yes, the pickles were always on the table in a special little dish. K.

Anonymous said...

After the pies and the nodding off, and the football game ending - then games: cards or board or trivia - at Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's the time of year when everyone in the family plays games together.

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a happy Thanksgiving, Patry!

Fred Garber said...

When I was about 12 years old, I use to like going outside with with my older male cousins and listen to them talk. One of them had memorized an incredible number of obscene and scatological poems and limericks. I wish I could recall his name. I'd like to call him and see if he has retained his talent. Othe than that I liked the the pickled watermelon rind that aunt Leora made.

robin andrea said...

Here's something I'm thankful today, that this post finally showed up. I checked in here on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and found no new post. So, today, Friday, I am thankful that Blogger finally let me see what I've been missing.

Hope your holiday was a fine as ever.

paris parfait said...

Red wine - and cranberry sauce! (No. 11). Great post, Patry. They don't do those little white onions in Europe, but the rest of it is pretty much the same. And certainly the gratitude is universal.

Anonymous said...

Here's my #11 for this year: our son being old enough to really get into the whole Thanksgiving thing --- food, family, "the parade" on TV, even a little football (he clapped at touchdowns). So amazing to see this transition.

Hope you had a great one!

Writertobe said...

Patry, a happy belated Thanksgiving to you and your family. And to all the follow American everywher.

NoVA Dad said...

I love your list -- and like your mother, I love mince pie! I think I'm the only one in my family who does; it brings back such happy memories of childhood, when my grandmother would roll a fresh one out during the holidays. If I want one now, I have to do it myself!!

- Matt

Alex S said...

I love this list, esp the ritual of pulling your gratitudes out of the cup! I'm going to remember that. That seems like a lovely thing to do throughout the year at dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to you!!!

Anonymous said...

The games! Every year we play games...Taboo, Fictionary, in the manner of the adverb, and others. Every year, I make the boiled onions. I think it's more a New England thing that I brought down here with me. I think it's ironic that every Thanksgiving I cry just a little while peeling them.

I have a photo I wonder if you'll recognize.

Patry Francis said...

k: I'm not going to wait till next year. We'll be having sweet pickles and olive fingers for Christmas!

tinker: We don't usually play board games, but today my son showed up with one called "Scruples" that made for some very interesting family discussions. It was fun, too!

fred: Hanging out with the cousins was always fun. Since one of mine got married this weekend, I got to do a little of that this year, too.

r.a.: blogger seems to have been particularly flakey this weekend. But I'm thankful you kept coming back!

paris: Red wine and cranberry sauce, pumpkin and squash. The Thanksgiving palette is truly wonderful.

kg: Seeing the kids take on and come to love our traditions--ah yes, that's a very big #11.

sereeb: Thank you for stopping by to celebrate with us!

matt: I think that's why my mother loves it, too. She still remembers how the kitchen smelled when her own mother was baking her mince pies.

alexandra: Using the gratitude cup at ordinary meals is a great idea. It's one thing that never runs out.

colleen: You're right; that's one fine picture! And I can see you now, weeping over your New England onions, then wiping your eyes and being so happy to find yourself in Floyd!