Tag Archives: happy thanksgiving

House Rules

Thanksgiving is a unique and marvelous day, one in which every person is given carte blanche to eat however much he or she wants.  There is a Thanksgiving celebration in the United States as well as Canada, and I do hope everyone else does not envy us too much.

However, it is also a very Easy day, easily adapted, easy for all to enjoy.  All one has to do is follow three simple rules.

Do not be greedy:

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Do not ignore your family:

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And do not question your good luck, your wonderful bounty, no matter where you find it:

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Thanksgiving Starts In September

It all started in September.
I was marketing with the Boyfriend, and at one point I stopped in mid-aisle to exclaim, “Where are the roasting pans?  It’s late September!  Where are the cranberries?”
You see, with the beginning of September, the first of the blessed quartet of 3-syllable months, my mind will turn to Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving, and all of its lovely panic-strewn preparations.  Thanksgiving, the fear, the food.  Thanksgiving and butter.  Thanksgiving and the only marathons that count – the ones on TV.
Now, previously, the holiday would either be a restaurant meal, where one could not ask for seconds, or ask why the gratinee on the potatoes was so flimsy.  (Such a crisp, cheesy roof should be in danger of crushing the entire building, for goodness’ sake.)  And if not at a restaurant, the other Thanksgiving alternative would be one at a relative’s or friend’s home – there, seconds would be available (possibly encouraged, depending on the friend/relative).  But there  one would pay for one’s boldness by helping to Clean Up.  Both of these meals would be full of thanks to be sure, but they would also last only a few hours: a mere nibble out of the year.  For me, when Thanksgiving is in someone else’s hands, the celebrations are always far too brief.
So, years and years ago, I decided to have the meal at my apartment.   And this brought about a paradigm shift in my perception of Thanksgiving.  Between shopping, cleaning and cooking, my prep work begins in October.  And I will begin to sniff around for new recipes in September (doubling my annoyance with the Halloween menus on the covers of all the cooking magazines.  What’s to plan?  Give me – or anyone, for that matter – a a vat full of Heath bars and I’m happy).
I trust the people I invite, so I use the good silver.  Fashion-shaming could make people uncomfortable, but I invariably will greet them at the door wearing a tiara and petticoats, but I mean no harm – so everyone gets a corsage or buttonhole.   Oh, and the secret handshake, obviously.
So, it is therefore safe to say that my Thanksgiving lasts for 3 months.  As a result of this elasticization of the holiday, of this metaphoric conversion into an easy-fit stretch band, I will be sore, weak, and often ill from being maid-of-all-work for such a distance of time.  My sciatica will be erupting.  But it is still glorious.
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Now, I hope this won’t frighten people away from Thanksgiving.  Because no matter how you choose to celebrate this peculiarly American and hedonistic day, please make sure that you do.   For this day was not made to be joyless.

The Nature Of The Feast

Saigyo said (and I only know that he did so, because J.D. Salinger quoted him):

“What it is I know not
But with the gratitude
My tears fall”

Now, many people, both here and distant, have seen fit to make fun of our innocent November holiday.  They say that it is a shallow thing, a mere celebration of overeating and television marathons.

Which of course it is.

But there is another, overlooked, word in that accusation: ‘celebration’.  And therein lies the real meaning of this particular day.  For Thanksgiving is not twisted about with politics or religion – it is uncontaminated with those things.  Instead, it is a celebration of the harvest:  in my case the harvest from Ralph’s and Whole Foods.  It is a celebration of the food you are lucky to see on your plate.  It is a celebration of the people sitting next to you and sitting across from you.    It is such a simple thing.  You are giving thanks for friends and family – people you care for most in the world that you have been able to gather together.  You are giving thanks for the 4 cups of heavy cream I will be putting in my potatoes gratin – thanks that such an act is still legal in the United States.

My mother is Jewish, my father is ½ Italian – perhaps it is in my blood to express affection with food.  But I can’t be positive about the relationship between DNA and dining.  Still, a heavy, festive table is a beautiful thing.

So is a James Bond marathon – parents and Boyfriend have been warned that this will be playing All Day.

A day of Thanksgiving – for all things, anything you can think of – is a pure holiday:  full of emotions so unsullied that indeed tears of gratitude will indeed fall.  And yet giving thanks is so easy to do:  anyone can take part!

By definition, Thanksgiving is a gathering of your own personal, wonderful people, your marvelous families.  It is a day to share the bounty.  Not STARE at, share.  Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for all that you have.  And that is the nature of the feast.

Thanksgiving-young Rita Hayworth

Happy Thanksgiving, you darling people.

The Thanksgiving Chicken

Thanksgiving dinner at the Aubrey estate has always been a glittering affair, a marvelous journey that leads to the sublime merging of the splendid and the sated.  Invitations have always been jealously guarded, leading to bloodletting and tear shedding.  Popularity can be a curse.

Menus, however, have changed.  I am still looking for a vegetable dish that people will eat.  Some guests will NEVER eat their greens.  I will never cook a pie until I’ve fully recovered from the pecan debacle of the mid-nineties.  Bread…cookies…I’m always looking for a new look.

The turkey, of course, remains the same.  Cooking time is estimated so that the bird cooks all day, so that the Scent of Holiday will entertain both hostess/cook and guests all day.

The chicken also remains the same.

Prior to one of my first Thanksgivings, Mother and I were shopping for a centerpiece.  Every grand table – like a grand dame – needed a suitable crown.  I thought this was common knowledge, but we found nothing.  I wasn’t interested in sprays of autumn flowers, or gourds or candles.  I wanted something magnificent and feathered; a turkey built on Steiff-like proportions – a bird to fix upon the other lowly dishes on the table with its glassy eye.

No such bird presented itself.

But a chicken – sensing its chance, perhaps – did.  It was harvest colored and bold.  It held itself proudly.  Mother and I agreed that it was fine and brave enough to hold its own against the bird that would be roasting its way to fame in the kitchen, a few yards away.

And ever since that distant, wandering year, a Thanksgiving chicken has held court over the rich and annual meal.  Sometimes cheddar biscuits will be at its feet, sometimes pumpkin bread.  One year cheddar-potato gratin, another year the gratin will have goat cheese and caramelized onions.  Sometimes a vat of lasagna will find its way to the table.  Once or twice I’ve been forced – angrily – to add dried cranberries to the stuffing instead of cherries.  Every year will feature subtle differences.

But my guests can always depend on a turkey.  As well as a chicken.  And in a few hours it will stand at its rightful post, a feathered statuette commandeering one of the most wonderful meals of the year.

I can only hope that my twinkling blog-friends – I can hear you even now, hushed and charming – will emerge from this holiday with memories of vast and foolish caloric intakes, of turkeys past and present, and with your own version of the eternal Thanksgiving Chicken. May he – and you – crow forever.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Mythic Table

Please come to my house tomorrow, for a most wonderful meal.  I’ve jerry-rigged physics and magic, twisted physiologies and psychologies in order to mix together a delightful, gilded feast.

And you are invited.

Bows, Beaux And A Bird

I don’t need to give you the address.  As soon as you accept my invitation, you’ll know the location.  It’s called e-mind, and I paid quite a bit for the format.  You can thank me when you arrive.  Gifts are not necessary, by the way, but cheese is always welcome.  Aubrey prefers her cheese sharp and complex, like her men.

Tomorrow’s menu will be endless:  renovations will be consistent and constant.   Dimensions flatten and lie down, to allow for a table that goes on forever, and that will never be empty.  My table allows for countless plates and an eternal seating arrangement.  You will not be able to see from one end to another, but have no fear:  you will be able to hear any conversation clearly and beautifully. 

About dinner talk.  I of course encourage gossip, affectation, musical laughter with one’s head delicately thrown back, low and scandalized tones, wit and sarcasm.  I embrace your mannerisms, lovely people:  come to my apartment bearing them like adored children.

About dinner wear.  I’ve made a deal with science – eat what you want, and your waistlines will not expand!  So please, indulge in your pretty silhouettes:  break out your corsets and girdles; your streamlined tuxedos, your dresses with nipped in waists and hips.  I have guaranteed that you will be sated and stunning throughout the evening.

About dinner fare. 

Grace With Taste

The rims of champagne glasses will be dipped in chocolate.  Marzipan dragons, phoenixes and all manner of legends will stalk the table-cloth.  Breads will be studded with sultanas, cherries and edible gold.  Butter and honey so yearn to merge with these products of distant bakeries, that they barely touch the knife before melting in edible bliss.  It would be useless to describe the fruits and vegetables, as they have not been heard of in this hemisphere.  I chose them for my wonderful meal because of their color, shape and gem-like facets:  for their mythical, Scheherazade qualities.  They were chosen because they were not cooked carrots, which Aubrey does not like.

About dinner ware.  Carved from pearl and tawny bakelite there will be oyster, fish, salad, entrée and savory forks.  There will be soup and custard spoons. And knives too, for butter, meat and fish.  They are polished so bright that you will not only see your own face in them, but other faces as well, from distant stories, from unheard-of times.  Sherry, champagne and wine glasses spark and link all the way down this promised, fabled table.

About dinner gifts.  Something fabulous waits for each guest, but don’t ask me what – they vary wildly, and are known only to you. It becomes evident only as you choose your place and sit down; and then it materializes:  your most desired and extravagant present. 

Light will not be clear and vacant; it will be apricot and pomegranate – sapphire and oceanic – bronze and cadmium…and always flattering.  Shadows will not be your own.  Look out my windows – the sky – for the evening of my wonderful meal only – will be heavy and spiked with stars.  An aviary of constellations will watch us celebrate.

So please visit me!  Escape the sounds, sights and tastes of a world  harnessed to reason, and sit at my mythic table.

Aubrey Would Like To Cook For You

But I say this every year.  Every Thanksgiving I issue a blanket invitation to my blog friends, as unrealistic as this may be, to attend dinner at the Aubrey residence:  every year I wish this could happen.   

Your Harvest Chef

When you come home, I would advise you to check the salver by the front door.   You would see the embossed card lying there, with all the details.

To my adorable International friends, all you need to know about Thanksgiving is that it is a time of Happy.  And of great vats of food.  To my regional friends I’m sure you are all well acquainted with our Day of Glut and Joy.  So it would have been grand if this all could have happened.

But hope, I believe, keeps better than food.   So maybe next year.

If I Could…

…I would invite every one of my handsome, adorable, clever neighbors to my apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.

If I could, I would expand my list of invitees, like a sparkling balloon, to include parents, children and all manner of pets.  How I would love to be introduced to them all.

If I could, I would alter the design of my dinner table into something Dr. Seuss or Lewis Carroll might design – curving into space, higher and higher – until it had lengthened sufficiently so that every one of you could find a place.

If I could, I would alter the space continuum so that my kitchen would be BIG ENOUGH to accommodate the positively epic, Edwardian dinner I would plan for you.

If I could, I would alter the time continuum so that my far-flung precious ones would be able to find their way to the Aubrey domicile with ease and economy.  And yet still be able to travel first-class.

If I could, I would place a glass of flower-like, art nouveau proportions at each place setting.  It would be full of champagne, and glittering at the bottom would be either a diamond bracelet, or a brace of diamond cufflinks.  They are for you.

If I could, I would arrange the champagne toasts thusly:  they would not be to your hostess, to your family, or to your loved ones.  You would not toast this innocent North American holiday.  You would, instead, toast yourselves.

Because words fail me.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

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