It's NOT About the Turkey

Thanksgiving:  It's all about the turkey right?  What is the first thing you think of when you think of the holiday?  BE HONEST!  Are you really thinking about what you are thankful for or are you thinking of turkey?  Word Association:  Black/White, Hi/Low, Thanksgiving/?

For most of us Thanksgiving = Turkey. There are those who might come up with stuffing or pumpkin pie as their first thought, but let's face it the bird is the "face" of the holiday.  

Of course we all know that Thanksgiving is not just about the food.  It's about a time of reflection and gratitude. But let's put aside all the "good thoughts" for a moment and be a bit more realistic.  Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family and friends.  But isn't that celebration done through the massive consumption of turkey (and other goodies)?

For years my family has been denied the pleasure of the bird. My son didn't find out about what a "Thanksgiving Feast" was all about, until elementary school when the Wednesday before the holiday there was a special Thanksgiving lunch in the makeshift cafeteria.  Having never been exposed to something like it, he was not too thrilled.  Although I think he got to like it a little better as the years went on. (And he ate a little more than just mashed potatoes.  The miser in me got annoyed at the cost of $5 for the spoonful of potato that he would eat.)  I would like to think that if my brother was still alive, he might invited my son and husband over for some traditional turkey fixings from his leftovers.  My brother was a good cook and he LOVED his Thanksgiving bird.  (Although I believe once or twice he served Turducken in place of the traditional turkey.)

It's not that I don't like turkey.  I used to love turkey.  But then when I was a teen, turkey (and all poultry products) stopped loving me.  It shouldn't be a surprise; I've been severely allergic to eggs (and anything with egg in it) since I was a baby.  My allergy to poultry emerged slowly.  Taking the form of stomach discomfort before segueing into difficulty breathing (which is what led me into the ER of the local hospital one Thanksgiving evening when I was in 7th or 8th grade) before finally becoming full blown anaphylaxis (complete with swelling in any possible place you can think of along with plenty that you can't and a myriad of other symptoms that are too disgusting to write).  For someone like me, even the scent can make it difficult to breath and the issues of cross contamination make it impossible for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  (I've even been asked nicely NOT to dine at Walt Disney World's Liberty Tree Tavern restaurant as it is known for its Pilgrim Feast and staff has told me that they cannot in keep me "safe.")

So, when my family sits down to a Thanksgiving meal (which I will cook; it's only fair), there will be a roast on the table.  (Sometime there has been ham, but this year the ham is reserved for a Christmas meal.  No goose for this table either!) There will be no stuffing or cranberry sauce.  (Although who says cranberry sauce doesn't go with beef?  Cranberry win surely does!)  There WILL be some "traditional" items such as mashed potatoes, a modified green bean casserole.  There will be a dessert that I cannot eat.  And there will be one (or more) that I'll make that I CAN.  There will be plenty of food; just not what is traditionally associated with the holiday.

Of course, more importantly there will be family and MUCH to be thankful for.  And there is always space for one more (or two or three or...) at the table.  (Although it may get pretty tight...the dining room and table are pretty small!)  Just remember if you ever drop by, all are welcome, but if you're looking for a turkey dinner, you're in the wrong place!


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