I enjoy hosting Thanksgiving.
Growing up in India, Thanksgiving wasn’t a significant holiday in my life. My sister and I would arrive home from boarding school on Thanksgiving. We’d have macaroni & cheese for lunch, roasted chicken and cinnamon rolls for dinner. While I was very grateful to be home and thankful for delicious home cooking, these meals felt more like a celebration that we were home than part of a larger cultural holiday.
It’s taken me a while to appreciate Thanksgiving here in the United States. Over the years I’ve experimented and established my traditions – including a vegetable pot pie, sweet & sour beets and coconut cream pie in addition to cranberry sauce and roasted turkey breast. Now, each year as the seasons turn, I look forward to hosting Thanksgiving.
I know it’s a holiday with a complicated and questionable history and, like any family gathering, can be a loaded event. But here’s what I enjoy about it: it’s a day at home devoted to cooking and sharing a meal with family and friends.
I’ve enjoyed cooking for others ever since I baked individual cakes in my Easy Bake oven. The pleasure was equal parts mixing the batter and pushing the little pans through the oven, and giving these cakes to my mother, father and sister. Cooking for family and friends is both a creative act and a way to express my love for them.
Food is an important part of most holidays, celebrations and gatherings, but on Thanksgiving the food is the celebration. The feast – not a historical or religious event or significant rite of passage – is the reason families gather. This is a day to nourish each other with food and connection.
Thanksgiving is a special occasion and I usually write about the importance of the everyday. But slowing down, paying attention to each other, eating good food together requires neither a feast, nor a full day, nor the extended family. It can happen on a smaller scale in an everyday way – like a family dinner on an ordinary Tuesday night.
I value sitting together around a table, eating nourishing food and sharing about our lives. It’s a time to pause, to turn off the TV, phone and computer and be present with one another. So often I feel like I swim against the tide with these values, but on Thanksgiving, I feel supported. I’ve embraced it as a holiday designed to honor gathering with loved ones over a delicious meal.
My invitation to you: What does Thanksgiving mean to you? How do you connect this holiday with your everyday life? I’d love to hear.