Turkey, Family, and Tradition


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Thanksgiving dinner, a time to give and receive love

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning. The smell of marinated chicken, peppers, and onions fill the room. I’m still sleeping due to a late night of preparation. My grandmother arrived early this year, so we spent all night reminiscing, watching movies, looking at old pictures, and catching up. I’m dreaming about last year’s Thanksgiving and how I had no idea it would be the last holiday I would get to spend with my great aunt. It is still early, so I’m almost certain that my brothers and sisters are in a deep sleep. I’m slightly awaken by the sound of grocery bags being ripped open, but I can’t let that disrupt my sleep. Since my place of employment guarantees two whole days of no work during this time of the year, I feel it’s mandatory that I catch up on some rest. Suddenly, I’m fully awaken by my mother’s voice, “Darius wake up… Darius wake up”. I awake only to see an unseasoned turkey mysteriously dancing in front of my face. I jump up frightened by the thought of a featherless turkey dancing. Then I hear lots of laughter and it reminded me that I have just been a victim of my family’s tradition.

Whether it’s a recipe, a game, a talent show, or my mother pretending to be a puppet master and dancing with the turkey like it had strings attached, tradition, I believe, is the foundation of Thanksgiving. It gives us something to look forward to besides the delicious food. I recently spoke with a young lady, who was very interested in her grandmother’s recipe for her amazing pound cake. It made me think how important tradition is and how the passing down of something as simple as a recipe can carry on for generations. Which, reminded me of my grandmother’s fruit salad. Every year, as a kid, I would always call her and ask if the fruit salad going to be made and if I could help. Just the thought of the honey mixed with the orange juice and the multiple types fruit blended together made me salivate and anticipate the day of Thanksgiving.

When was the last time you were able to see a video from a previous Thanksgiving holiday? Has your family ever put you in the spotlight and requested you to display your hidden talent? Now imagine knowing that this will take place again in front of your family. Would you be excited to show off your hidden talent again? Would you spend time preparing to show what you enjoy doing in front of family. Quite frankly, I would be so nervous that I would possibly skip Thanksgiving, but on the other hand, how bad could it be? My point is, family brings out the best in you. Since Thanksgiving is a holiday where family comes together, much like Christmas, why not take the opportunity to reveal your hidden talent in front of genuine support and love.

Now what would be a conversation about Thanksgiving, if food was not in the discussion? About 12 years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, my mother suddenly stopped making her infamous sweet potato pie. Now this pie was something out of this world. The crust was golden and the mixture of unknown ingredients seemed so consistent every year. The taste? Let’s just say that if heaven had a kitchen, then my mother’s sweet potato pie would be on the menu. With this being said, what is one dish that you are looking forward to? Is it your aunt’s pretzel salad? Is it the yams, glazed with brown sugar that your older cousin perfected? Whatever it may be, be sure to show your appreciation by asking for seconds or even thirds. I once cooked my infamous homemade mashed potatoes for my brother and his family during Thanksgiving. I can’t even describe the feeling of seeing those potato’s disappear in a matter of 20 minutes. It made me feel like I contributed, and that possibly, just possibly, this dish, better yet my dish, would be a request for many Thanksgiving holidays to come. I should mention that yesterday, I got the call to have the mashed potatoes ready on Thanksgiving Day. That’s 2 years in a row, therefore, I would say that this recipe is on its way to becoming tradition. Now that my taste buds are begging for at least a sample, I can’t but wonder, what would be the stand out memory for this year’s holiday. Last year, my uncle had to fix a lightbulb on the ceiling. Not to mention he is under six feet tall, so standing on a chair and reaching for the lightbulb becomes somewhat of a challenge for him. So as we have our conversation in the living room, out the corner of my eye, I see him struggling as if his arms were as small as a raptor’s. I get up to ask if I could be of assistance, but my timing was off about 5 seconds, because before I could say Uncle Jim, he comes crashing down. The thump was as loud as the laughs. Luckily he was laughing as well. I’m sure this Thanksgiving, that story will be included in many discussions.

I say all of this to say, this holiday season, let us focus on creating memories. The typical length of time that a family member visits for the holiday is maybe 3 to 5 days, but a memory can last a lifetime. Let’s also focus on the importance of tradition. If one hasn’t been establish, then take the lead and create something that can be passed down from generation to generation. Who knows, your future kids could be begging for your signature recipe. Finally, let us all take the time to satisfy the pleasure of eating everything. Call a loved one and ask are they bringing their signature dish. Show appreciation, because you never know, this year you could end up like Uncle Jim.