Thanksgiving Thoughts, Memories and Traditions

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

As the November air begins to get nippy, autumn leaves cover the lawns, we can count the days until a favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, arrives. Memories of family celebrations like driving to grandma’s house, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, tuning into a much anticipated football game and waiting patiently for the turkey to be finished, brings to mind happy times of years gone by. Somehow these once easy traditions have become more complicated with families no longer living in the same neighborhood and traveling a long distance is involved. This possibly means overnight or weekend guests to host on top of preparing a complex Thanksgiving Day dinner. Stress levels are high when dealing with which side of the family’s turn it is to cook or making travel plans to their house. Add to that the cost of fuel and for purchasing the menu items for a large group can put a dent into a family’s monthly budget whether they are traveling or preparing the meal.

To make it easier on the host, a cousin’s in-laws have always planned that all guests help with the meal. The host will make the turkey and stuffing and the rest of the guests decide who will bring an appetizer, salad, veggie sides, mashed potatoes and of course the desserts and wine. Everybody gets a chance to show off their favorite recipe and come with the item in a decorative dish that only needs to be heated. In the end, the host is more relaxed, the cost is shared and the dishes varied and delicious.

Not to be nagging about healthy eating on this feast day we all love, think about ways that help you not to go overboard during the meal. Try not to arrive at the host’s house really starving because you skipped breakfast. Eat a sensible morning meal with plenty of fruit and low in carbs choices. When appetizers are put out before the meal, nibble on some crunchy veggies rather than chips and dip or rich cheeses and crackers. If an assortment of alcoholic beverages is being offered, remember they add calories, too. Have one or two drinks, and then switch to apple cider or seltzer. When the main meal arrives, have portion control, especially with the stuffing, mashed potatoes and crescent rolls. Remember desserts are on the way afterwards, so you want to have room for them, too.

Thanksgiving Trivia: Here is something to share with guests around the table or with school students to refresh or introduce a bit of Thanksgiving history. When was the first Thanksgiving? It took place in early December in 1619. Why did the Pilgrims have this famous meal in such cold weather in Plymouth, Massachusetts? The reason was to celebrate the harvest season when all the crops had been gathered and stored and prepared for the winter months. Root cellars were created that kept the produce cool, without freezing. Meats and fruits were dried so they could be eaten all winter long. Speaking of meats, most historians believe that turkey was not even eaten at the first Thanksgiving Day meal. Probably seafood like lobster and other fish popular in the New England waters were the main staples of the meal. Turkey was introduced as the family’s centerpiece most likely around 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. By the way, did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird and not the eagle? I can’t even imagine that and we all know the eagle is more majestic, fierce and a strong symbol of our country. In closing, we wish all our Montauk Sun readers a very happy and Blessed Thanksgiving Holiday!