This Thanksgiving started out special. Early morning, my Mother called. From halfway across the globe.And said "Thank You".
I was like "Ehhhhh...whaat ? Whyyy? Keno ? Shob thik ache? Are you ok ?"
And then she said "Thank You for being my daughter". That was such a shocker that whatever remnant sleep I had in my system flipped and did a bolt out of the door.
"Keno? Ki holo?", I asked frantically trying to think what might have caused my Mother to behave in such a manner early morning. We have never been a polite "Thank You", "Please" family reserving such atrocious behavior only for strangers and so such words coming from her sounded more alarming than endearing.
"Aajke Thanksgiving to. Eikhane FM Radio te phone kore shobai rickshaw wala ke Thanks diche. Ami bhablam toke diy( Just heard today is Thanksgiving and people are calling FM radio here in Kolkata and sending out Thank You messages even for their rickshaw wala. So I thought I might as well thank you)", my Mother, a woman of the world, tried to justify her behavior.
I breathed a sigh of relief. All was well. I am immensely Thankful for my Ma but I have never ever been able to tell that verbally. But then my FM radio blares NPR and does not give me such good advise Phewww.
Several years here and yet we have not much of a Thanksgiving tradition. I mean "not much" if you ignore the fact that most years we end up at a close friend's home driving 3 hours, 2 states away to spend the Thanksgiving weekend lounging on their couch. It is something we do without much thought.
Maybe because airports are too crowded during the four day vacation or maybe because the friend's pastel green couch and warm heart beckons to us stronger than the sandy beaches of Jamaica. Or it could also mean scrumptious free food that one does not have to cook and hence clean up after is the main motivating factor.
The point of the matter is we have never re-visited our decision as to why this has morphed as a repetitive process in our life. That a repetitive process also translates as a tradition is something that had never occurred to me until last Wednesday.
Last Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, BS's teacher asked the class to write something about their Thanksgiving tradition.
BigSis said :" Well ummm we don't really celebrate Thanksgiving as a tradition...ummm"
Teacher: "Is there anything you do on that day ?"
BS: "Yes, yes, every year on Thanksgiving we visit our cousin(read friend's daughter) and her family and have fun at their place"
Teacher: "Well then that IS your Thanksgiving tradition"
A visibly relieved BS later told me that at least she had some sort of a tradition on Thanksgiving to write about, her class mate V merely stayed home and spent it like any other day and had nothing interesting to write. Well every thing you do ultimately finds a way to be useful to someone somewhere. And lets not forget the free food.
This year though unbeknownst to BS we (as in the precious group of real life friends I have here) had planned a traditional Thanksgiving pot luck lunch, a lunch before we continued on our next tradition of spending the days with the other friend. We had never done a traditional Thanksgiving meal before, the times that we had done something it was always leaning towards something Indian. This year led by a friend(we will call her M) who is a fantastic and talented cook we fell in line with a traditional Thanksgiving meal perfumed only mildly with cumin, coriander, and Mustard oil.
The said friend took upon a 19lb Turkey by herself and in face of our doubts, doubts that a Bengali soul will always have faced with a Turkey, cooked a bird which was so delicious that I will now look at Turkey --the bird that is, with renewed respect. With creole seasonings and hours of brining and marination, she had made the bird so moist and delightful and perfect that it was beyond our masoor dal-bhaat imagination. The Turkey had the prefect accompaniment in a stuffed turkey breast(by friend J), a wonderful colorful salad(N's Dad), green beans, roasted potatoes(me), gravy, cranberry relish(me), shrimp scampi( by another friend J),soup, more vegetables and scrumptious brownie.
It was truly a beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving meal.
The heavily Indianized cranberry relish that I made following N (or was it M's ?) recipe is super easy to put together and tastes almost like a makha kuler achaar. The concept is also kind of same, throw different ingredients together until it tastes perfect. All you need is cans of Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce to start with and then you do this
I will end this post with words about an organization I received an e-mail about. I haven't had time to look into details but is clear that the non-profit org More Than Me, that works to lift girls off the street and into school in Liberia, West Africa is doing a worthy job. Do check out www.voteabigail.org and More Than Me.