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View from the Ledge: Thanksgiving Memories
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Thanksgiving is the great American holiday. Almost every country will celebrate its own birthday or set aside days to honor its heroes but few have a holiday created by its people for the purpose of simply being thankful for who we are and what we have. Thanksgiving, perhaps more than any other of our holidays, represents us as individuals in a country born of individuals. It is a day steeped in family tradition and memories, some of which cause us to shake our heads. Every family has a Thanksgiving disaster and things can happen on Thanksgiving that are unlikely to happen any other time of the year, like someone dropping a 16-pound frozen turkey from waist high onto a bare foot. Spending three hours in the emergency room waiting for x-rays on a foot turning the color of cranberry sauce is not the best way to spend a Thanksgiving. Most Thanksgiving disasters involve food, and usually that means the turkey being cooked until it is tougher than a football or undone to the point it can fly off the table. I have a cousin who was in charge of cooking the turkey one year and she forgot to remove the plastic bags of fixins' that come inside the bird. It provided for in interesting taste but not one I would necessarily recommend. Since then her kitchen duties on Thanksgiving have been revoked. She brags that she is not required to cook; we cheer that we are not required to eat her cooking. It turns out to be a good deal for all concerned. It was after this her husband decided to help oukt and deep fry a turkey. Following the unfortunate cedar tree and hot oil incident his cooking privileges were also withdrawn. His only job now is to make certain the TV remote has fresh batteries. There is also a danger when someone decides to be creative and prepare the turkey in a new and different way. This usually happens after they have read an article in some magazine or seen one of the yahoo cooks on TV. This resulted in another relative who decided to have "blackened" turkey. I don't know what possessed him to think this was a good idea, except perhaps his consultations with Wild Turkey, but even if this was a good recipe he didn't do it very well. We ended up with something even the cat wouldn't eat. Everyone has their own way of preparing the turkey and each family's way is the best because that is the tradition, although traditions have changed as deep frying and smoking have emerged as favorite methods of cooking. While either of these can provide excellent birds, there is something nostalgic and even comfortable about the smell of cooking turkey coming from the kitchen and filling the house. The smell lingers for hours.It can stir memories of Thanksgivings gone by, good turkey and bad, of family and friends and times that make us individuals. Perhaps more than ever, in these hard and uncertain times, the memories of who we are and where we come from are more valuable than ever. Thanksgiving is the holiday of our lives and for that, we should be thankful.