Thanksgiving is such a pagan fete, it really is. Centered around the sacrifice of a very particular animal - the humble turkey - which we then brine-roast-fry-steam-spatchcock or whatever, we gather with large groups of family and friends, and feast on the sacrifice. It's a ritual of abundance, a harvest feast identical to the ancient feasts of pre-civilized times. Or ... wait ... are we civilized? You tell me.
When I worked for Whole Foods, Thanksgiving week was a nightmare for all of us engaged in stocking and ringing up the obscene amount of food that was purchased. It was the biggest week of the year for WF, so we did our best to rise to the occasion. Because I was in catering, my job during Thanksgiving week included long stints in the refrigerated trucks behind the store, stacked from roof to floor with freshly killed turkeys, sorting through them so as to provide the right sized turkey for each customer . Even worse than freezing my ass off in a truck full of dead turkeys was the job of carrying the turkeys to the counter where the customers picked them up. Turkeys are heavy and even in a bag, hard to gracefully handle. Even worse than that was working at the counter facing the customers who were frazzled and hence irritable. Those people, good lord. They complained if the turkey was half a pound too heavy for god's sake. We politely explained that there was no way to make a turkey gain only a certain number of pounds during its happy life frolicking on the free range. It took considerable self control to refrain from saying things we might later regret.
Everyone should work in retail for a couple of years, just to see. Good lord.
One year at Whole Foods, I learned to say "Kill them all," in every language spoken by the staff, which included Spanish, French, Woloff, Filipino and Nepalese. In so doing, I made it possible to say, to any fellow employee as needed, Kill them all in their native language. It never failed to lighten the mood.
It took years after I left Whole Foods to come into a place of balance about Thanksgiving. Last year I even hosted a party of six here at the chateau. I ordered a "heritage" (aka not bred to be so heavy in the breast that it can barely walk), free range turkey from Whole Foods. When I picked it up, I smiled broadly and was patient - just because. I learned that the common denominator among all Thanksgiving recipes is butter. It was fun.
This year my plans fell through due to a death in the family - not my family, the family who invited me. I'm left now to my own devices and feeling ironically sad that I won't take part in our national, over the top ritual of abundance. Poor little Reya. Can you hear the tiny violins playing?
I will roast a chicken, have a nice dinner. Earlier that day I have a date with Anna Karenina. Even when I was at Whole Foods, when I detested Thanksgiving, it was a day of abundance. This year it will be much quieter. That's ok, right?