As I write this note, my vegan granddaughter is preparing the Thanksgiving feast. As you read this note, we will have experienced and graded what promises to be an interesting culinary experience. Vegans, for the uninitiated, do not eat anything that is of or from a blooded animal, which means no milk or butter in addition to no meat. I’m going to miss the turkey.
In my youth, Mother spent the day baking turkey, pies and fresh bread. The gobbler was huge, more than sufficient for sharing among Mom, Dad, brother and two sisters and whichever relatives happened by. The stuffing was bread-based, bound with chicken broth and onions. No raisins. The bird was surrounded on the table by a plethora of vegetables, the most important of which, to my taste, was cranberry sauce, slow-cooked on the back burner of the kitchen stove to a juicy thick sweet-and-sour sauce with those delicious red lumps. I ate turkey primarily to justify additional helpings of cranberry sauce.
Except for the neck. That was mine. It had been cooked in the broiling pan, soaked in the juices beneath the bird. Long, succulent strands of meat, peeled off like string cheese, only much tastier. Then the bones disassembled from one another and sucked, quietly because Mom wouldn’t stand for my impolitely noisy slurping of the remaining morsels.
The only other plate to hold my dedicated attention held a dozen or so fresh-from-the-oven, hand-squooshed biscuits, shaped into the pan and baked next to a couple loaves of bread that would later make leftover turkey easier to hold. There is nothing prepared by man or woman to compete with fresh from the oven biscuits and butter. Not margarine. Butter.
Mother is gone, but not her memories. But I’m open to new memories, and I’m thankful for Kassidy making some.
I’m also thankful for my children who, in spite of my worst errors, are leaving their children a better place than I gave them. They and those youngsters in their charge are doing real well.
And I’m thankful for the social discussion we’re having, as it calls for a long-overdue change in the way we treat each other. As I often told our offspring: No one is better than you, nor are you better than anyone else.
I’m not going to place all the blame on men for the way women have been treated. Many mothers have earned a share of the blame, with phrases such as “boys will be boys” (though, of course, they will, and girls will be girls). When I was young, I often heard of girls becoming Big Stars by searching out the correct producer’s “casting couch.” It was generally mothers who made the disapproving claims, and they were not blaming the producers.
I fear the current conversation is going to place some of those who were merely crass and disrespectful in the same barrel of tar as those who have been truly malicious. I hope that when the smoke settles, we will be able to celebrate the differences between men and women without making one chattel of the other.
Our history is well marked with changes brought about by long bottled reaction to social inequities. Abigail Adams asked her husband to remember the ladies as he helped craft the nation’s founding documents, but women didn’t get to vote until more than a century – and some riot-broken window glass – had passed.
I’m thankful we live in a nation strong enough to withstand the occasional broken glass as we work to live up to the standards we have written down.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.