Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Here’s a little-known fact about Thanksgiving: The week before the celebrated “first Thanksgiving,” the Native Americans served the Pilgrims a quiet meal of macaroni and cheese, with coleslaw on the side. Turkey was not served until the following week. Historians do not mention this because they have no way to explain how the Native Americans came up with cheese. Deer cheese? The macaroni, of course, came from macaroni bushes that used to be abundant in Massachusetts. But that’s another story.
Kim and I honored that mac ‘n’ cheese non-tradition with our Thanksgiving non-feast. And where some see Thanksgiving as a family gathering, commemorating a peaceful pause before centuries of invasion and genocide, our meal was just the two of us, with candles. Kim was thankful that she did not have to prepare the multi-course feast that she, with the help of family, has prepared every year. I was thankful that Kim was teaching me her mac ‘n’ cheese secrets in hope that I would actually learn them. It’s a tradition that we may continue, depending . . ..
Family? Either they were too far away, too broke, or conflicted with other scheduled events. No matter. We saw Scott and Shariee the day after (for chili, which the natives had served invaders in other parts of the country – another historical lacuna), and more family will be here over the Christmas holidays, if not for Christmas itself. Family gatherings are complicated these days, with divorces and extensive travel requirements.
Thanksgiving, however it is celebrated, can be a welcome pause. Thanks – giving. Usually this is taken to mean a giving of thanks. Perhaps it’s to God, if you are so inclined, or perhaps to or for specific people. It’s not unusual to go around the dinner table with each person proclaiming what he or she is thankful for.
But there’s another way to understand Thanksgiving, more along the lines of thanks à giving. If you are thankful for your life, what better response is there than giving? Time. Money. Junk you didn’t sell in your garage sale. A compliment. Help. (Here is where I am not going to list the thanks à givings Kim and I have done, which subverts the nobility of the gesture. I see it as quiet deposits in the karma bank.)
So, mac ‘n’ cheese, coleslaw, candles, and orange kiss-me cake for dessert. Then, some giving. Life is good.