26 Nov HAPPY THANKSGIVING
The quick update: 33 days. I weigh 14 pounds less than I did when I began on October 23, 2015. I am pleased. The most satisfying piece of this is that I’m fully engaged. I do not feel deprived. I’m learning how to eat like a sane person. I’m even cooking. Every day. An unusual thing for me. What’s more unusual is that I’m enjoying it. The planning, the shopping. Two things I used to hate to do. I never used to freeze anything. The idea of planning a meal in advance and thawing something out was unthinkable to me. I never knew what I wanted to eat until it was meal time. I’ve always been an impulse eater. Which meant I was unprepared for meals. So I ate out. All the time. Now I’m appreciating the rewards of planning. I am enjoying the process. I feel in charge of my food.
I didn’t realize until yesterday that I have a lot to say about Thanksgiving. Yes, I do.
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving meant family. Family and visiting. Driving far and wide. And wearing a dress. Or fighting about not wearing a dress.
When I was 16 my parents divorced. My father “claimed” Thanksgiving, and because we – my brother and I – loved him, we accommodated him. It was a tough one. My father was thrilled. My mother was hurt. And I felt guilty. I put myself in the position of taking care of him emotionally from the time I was a very small child. That trend continued until the day he died.
He cooked up a storm. He planned for months. Collected recipes. Shopped for the best, no expense spared. Experimented. Took Thanksgiving week off and started cooking the weekend before. For many years he peeled his chestnuts by hand. He would show us his fingertips, which were covered with cuts from the task. My brother and I applauded the year he grudgingly decided to buy chestnuts pre-peeled. My father was meticulous in everything he did. He had lists. He loved organization, order. He had systems in place. And he did it all in a really small galley kitchen in his apartment in Manhattan. He loved to do it. I think one of the things he loved the most was preparing a plate for my dogs at the end of the meal. He delighted in their pleasure.
A sample menu
- Sausage and chestnut stuffing – 2 pans. One for me to bring home. The only leftovers I was interested in. Every year.
- Pumpkin Bisque – I was usually full by the time I’d finished this course.But it didn’t keep me from forging ahead!
- Sweet potatoes
- Mashed potatoes
- Brussels Sprouts
- Mashed Parsnips
- Cranberry Chutney with Orange and Crystalized Ginger
- Pumpkin Pie – my favorite
- Pecan Pie – my brother’s favorite
- Pumpkin Cheesecake – everyone’s favorite
- Whipped Cream
- Vanilla Ice Cream – too much
Always delicious. Always too much.
My brother emailed me the other day, wondering if I had our dad’s recipe for the stuffing and the pecan pie. I loved getting that email. It made me cry. I missed my Dad. I missed my brother. He gave me a gift this year by sending that email. To feel the sweetness of sharing the memory with someone who was there with me, year after year. I don’t have the recipes. He tracked them down, though. My aunt has the stuffing recipe. So he’s continuing the tradition this year. That stuffing was crack.
The first Thanksgiving without him (4 years ago) I had a cold and I threw my back out. I was invited to join friends. I decided I needed to lay low. Went to a fabulous local restaurant and ordered Thanksgiving to go. Went back to my apartment, snuggled into the couch, feasted and watched The Godfather and The Godfather Part 2. I spent time with “the family!” It was an okay day. Quiet and bittersweet. Four years later I’m still conflicted about how much I want to participate. Sometimes I’m with people. Sometimes I bow out.
This is the first year I’m celebrating with a food plan in mind. I’m prepared. I’m going to visit friends this year. I’m bringing roasted brussels sprouts. They’re in the oven right now. They smell amazing. I’m bringing my food scale. I’m going to eat. I’m going to taste. I’m not going to overeat. I choose to be careful. I remind myself that it’s one day out of the year. A day. It doesn’t have to be a food massacre. What’s becoming clear to me is that I don’t have to eat everything in sight. I can trust that there will be more food. Later. Tomorrow. A week from now. Next year. That’s a big shift for me. I weighed myself this morning. I’ll weigh myself tomorrow morning. Just to check in. To see how I did. Whatever the result, it’s okay. I’m okay.
I’m using the day to focus on gratitude. I’m using it to reflect on just how thankful I am for all I have. For the life that I’ve built. For the people in my life. For the love. For the work that I do. For my 4 four-legged companions who enrich my life every day. For my health. For the fact that I’m not hungry. I have enough.
Happy Thanksgiving. I’m glad I’m here.