Thankful for good food, good town

Published 10:55 pm Friday, November 19, 2010

It’s that time of year again, folks. When the leaves change, the air takes on a chilly bite and there is nothing more important than eating as much delicious food as possible.

For me, the end of November has always been an adventure in food, but it’s also been an adventure. When school let out, my sister and I were most likely packing into a car with my dad to visit his family and to witness the kind of cooking I didn’t always get to see at home.

When I was younger, I often traveled with my dad down to his dad’s house in North Carolina. My grandfather was in charge of the turkey, and I remember often being woken up at 6 a.m. as he began mixing his stuffing — honey and cranberries were his secret ingredients — and marveling at his skill. Those years were marked by the biggest turkey roast my grandfather could find, an abundance of sweet potato casserole and as many sweet gherkins and black olives as I could steal from the platter while no one was looking. And Clint Eastwood marathons. You know, the important things in life.

Email newsletter signup

Other years we headed to my grandmother’s house in Ohio, where she bucked tradition and always made beef pot roast with pearl onions. But she didn’t forgo the pumpkin pie, though. Those years, we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and played card games.

So it was with disappointment that upon graduating from college, I learned that I was on the bottom of the totem pole and wouldn’t get many days off. Worse, I work in a business that never sleeps — or gets holidays off — and the first Thanksgiving after I graduated from college I ended up celebrating with just my dad at the Cracker Barrel down the street from my apartment and heading straight to work afterwards.

I resolved that the next year, even if I had to work Thanksgiving — which I did — I would celebrate by making a feast just like I had always attended with my family.

This has often meant that I celebrated Thanksgiving on a different day and I didn’t always get to see my family. But it has given me the chance to create my own food traditions. Last year, for example, we made apple-cranberry pork roast instead of turkey. This year I plan to replace traditional candied sweet potatoes with candied-bacon-and-sweet-potato hash.

But no matter the food traditions, one thing never changes: Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what you have and to celebrate those things with great food.

This year’s economy has brought me — and many others — to a low place, but it has given me so much more: A new puppy, a new husband and a new job in a new town.

Whatever you have to be thankful for this year, I want you to know that I’m thankful for you. Without readers, there would be no Suffolk News-Herald and no place for me here. So, thanks, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving, no matter when and how you celebrate it.