Most of us have our memories from various holidays, Thanksgiving being one of them. I remember my mother and grandmother in the kitchen post the button-popping feed; the kitchen windows still steamy, moving quietly through their known tasks, washing and drying the dishes, finding a spot in the fridge for the leftovers. The men—father, grandfather, and brother—in an altered tryptophan state (or so they alleged) watching football, my grandfather puffing on his pipe, my father with his lit cigar bringing down the last molecule of the fragrant aroma of turkey. Pie would be served later.
When I was old enough and had a family of my own I followed after these women. No questions asked. It’s what you did, like millions of other Americans fortunate enough to have what was needed—a roof over their heads and money enough to carry on the tradition.
We agreed to stay home on Thanksgiving and have leftovers with her sister and her husband later, over the weekend.
Our tradition begins on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving when I drive a short distance to Via Rosa and buy Pino’s fabulous Spaghetti and Meatballs for two with the hope of leftovers.
Then around noon on Thanksgiving we’ll have the Italian feast and The Godfather I ready to roll on the TV. It’s a perfect blend—you can’t watch this movie without a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.
If my parents were still alive and if I had come from a family with strong traditions and the “family home” to return to, and if I hadn’t been there and done that for so many years, I might be more inclined to go the traditional route. But these past few years, simplicity has been winning, and while I still love to eat well and prepare delicious food, being alive and active, having my daughters and brother close by has become for me what I believe was meant to be the beating heart of Thanksgiving.