As the leaves begin to change color and flutter through the air on autumnal breezes, most people begin to think about sweater weather, boots and the brisk crispness in the air. Thoughts turn to the approaching holiday season, as well as comfort foods and soups that can be simmered for hours in a Crock Pot or on top of the stove. Lawn furniture has been put away and pools have been closed for the season, while landscapers pull up fading impatiens and marigolds that once brightened flower beds with brilliant shades of pink, red and orange. Harvests of backyard gardens are winding down, while savvy gardeners gather herbs to dry in attics and garages for enjoyment during the cold weather. In the quiet of the evening, one can hear the faint click-clack of the leaves as they scurry across the pavement like the clatter of heels upon a freshly polished floor.
After Halloween, when trick-or-treaters graced doorsteps with their brightly colored costumes and open pillowcases, there’s an excitement in the air. It’s the gateway to the holiday season, when the stores in our area begin to reflect the upcoming day to give thanks for all our blessings. ShopRite begins their “spend $400 and get a free turkey” promotion, while other stores compete for the lowest price on a bird from Butterball.
Mom always got a Butterball turkey every Thanksgiving. It was her firm belief that other brands tasted gamier and drier than those wrapped in the bright blue packaging. Dad often tried to convince Mom to save a bit of money with the purchase of a lesser known brand, but Mom always won the battle. Her turkeys were delicious, and the aroma of her cooking hung in the house for days.
My husband is also a Butterball man. When I was still employed by Mid Island Hospital years ago, administration always offered staff a free turkey, which we picked up in the basement. It wasn’t a Butterball, and when I made the turkey, it was a memorable event. I almost set the house on fire because the skin somehow ignited. After I managed to extinguish the flames, we had a good laugh, although the taste of char was in our mouths for days. We swore, from that moment on, that we would purchase Butterball turkeys in the future and allow the hospital to donate my turkey.
Since we moved to Hicksville, Thanksgiving has become our holiday to host. I relinquished the task of turkey cooking to Hubby for many reasons, including safety. He takes great pride in basting and dressing the bird each year, with a tweak to the recipe to mix it up for guests. We share the job of creating side dishes, amazing chocolate pudding pies and homemade treats that have our guests as stuffed as the turkey by night’s end. Together, we present family and friends with a meal that is healthy, filling and memorable. Before the night is over, we ask everyone to go around the table to state one thing that they are grateful for. It’s a tradition that continues to this day, and it helps us to focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t.
I was a little saddened last week, when I entered our local Target. Hubby and I were searching for a few Thanksgiving decorations, mainly because our daughter wished to lavishly decorate the house for guests. We were quite surprised to see that Halloween had been shoved in a clearance corner to make way for Christmas.
As we searched the aisles for traces of turkey-themed items, we overheard a young girl who moaned to her mom, “There’s nothing here for Thanksgiving at all! Isn’t Thanksgiving considered a holiday anymore?” I felt badly when I heard it, because I had thought the same thing myself.
When we were younger, my sister always stated that “Thanksgiving is a non-holiday”, meaning that she didn’t get anything out of it, so it was just another day to eat dinner with family. I never felt this way, because there was something special about being grateful for the day and the people with whom you shared your meal. It was important for me to remember how thankful I was for simple things like a roof over my head, shoes without holes, and loved ones who surrounded us each year.
This year, my family will donate a turkey to the Bethpage Federal Credit Union’s yearly Turkey Drive, and we will consider our many blessings.
Thanksgiving is still a wonderful part of the autumn season, and it’s a day to remember to give thanks for everything that we have. By showing our gratitude, we can realize that we’re rich beyond measure, even if it’s just with the memories we share. In answer to the young girl in Target last week, yes, sweetheart, Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays of all.