Turns out, 8pm on Thanksgiving Eve is an excellent time to purchase your necessary ingredients for the copious amounts of food you’ll be up all night preparing! Who knew?! There are virtually no other people left in the store (so no one else is blocking the aisles and your access to the shelves), plus the produce department has just about finished putting out a restock for tomorrow morning. Genius! I need to remember this for next year! I skated through the aisles like an Olympian taking her curtain call and collecting the bouquets thrown on the ice. Just scoop and glide, folks. Scoop and glide.
Traditional Thanksgiving feasts are an interesting combination of dishes that we’ve always had. I can’t recall a turkey day without my mother’s cranberry salad on the buffet, which salad is comprised of jello, walnuts, canned cranberries and I’m pretty sure little bite-sized blocks of cream cheese. Of course, I can no longer eat that, but still it’s there every year for the rest of my carnivorous, dairy eating family to enjoy. Can I make a posthumous apology to my grandmother for the time when I ate too much of that salad?
As a vegan I do not partake of any of the prepared victuals – even though I still get a phone call with my “assignment” for the family feast. At least this year I wasn’t given narrow choices as in years’ past: “Would you like to bring the green beans and the rolls, or a salad and corn?” My assignment this year was much more generic: a salad and a side dish! I usually just smile and say, “I’ll figure out something,” knowing full well I’ll be the only one eating my meal. I have plenty of samplers come around to my corner of the kitchen counter, but their plates are already piled high with the usual fixins of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, with some sweet potato casserole peeking out from underneath, so all they’re interested in is a little taste of my dishes.
I strive to prepare extra yummy foods for Thanksgiving since it’s a rare opportunity to share my love of plant-based eating with my siblings and their spouses. We’ve been at this for enough years that I’m starting to receive requests, but generally they all love whatever I bring to share.
When I arrived with my various bowls and bags of food Thursday afternoon for our family gathering, my brother Peter ushered me through the kitchen to a spot near the front window where he reached into a grocery bag and, much like Mary Poppins, pulled one container after another out and handed them to me along with a menu. Lastly, he produced an entire pie with the announcement he had gone to Whole Foods that morning to purchase for me a Vegan Dinner For One, so I “wouldn’t feel left out this year.”
I don’t think I’ve ever felt left out of the meal, but I have definitely never felt so loved on Thanksgiving. I quickly carried my teetering stack of containers to my space on the counter and gave Peter a big hug while I wiped away my tears behind his back, grateful beyond words for his thoughtfulness.
Combined with what I prepared, I had more food than I could possibly eat and took home plenty of leftovers that have provided multiple meals in the subsequent days following our feast. I am so grateful for my brother’s kindness, for the bountiful access we have to whole foods, for this beautiful season that reminds us to express thanks, for health, for the talents and gifts that are mine to share, and for more things than I can possibly list here. I am so very blessed.
What I Prepared