Stuff THIS///Thanksgiving Memories
Traditions are funny. Not the fact that we put so much emphasis on the positivity of Anglo-American/ Indian relations for Thanksgiving, or that we “give thanks” for a year of plenty. Not those types of traditions. Not even the kind of tradition that is widely accepted, such as eating turkey, or having a “kids table” or, saying grace at the table even if you can’t remember the last time you went to church. No, the kind of tradition I’m referring to is the family specific tradition. The different sets of actions or behaviors that only make sense to your family. These types of traditions, seem to happen like clockwork every year and no one is really quite sure why. It just started one year, and it has repeated every year since--and the holiday would somehow be less without it.
For me, the tradition was throwing up on Thanksgiving. Let me back up, I’m not bulimic, and my parents weren’t abusive. It was just that Thanksgiving at our place wasn’t permitted to start until I had tossed my cookies.
So why? Why did our family holiday begin for me the way it ends for a large number of other people on this harvest holiday? Well, it started with the stuffing.
Although, I suppose it would really be called dressing. However, we never called it dressing in my family. I have heard that it is called stuffing only if it is stuffed into the turkey, and dressing if it is cooked separately. Whatever, it’s stuffing. And I hated it. My Dad had this recipe that everyone just adored though, and he made his homemade stuffing every year. He always had me assist with tearing the bread into pieces and that part of the business I could get down with. It was fun, it kind of felt destructive and I got credit for “helping out”.
When we all sat down to Thanksgiving dinner though, the drama began. Dinner couldn’t start, and no one could eat, until I chewed and swallowed a bite of stuffing. A “big girl bite”. There would be begging, pleading, whining and then, inevitably, tears. But, my Dad stood firm. I had to taste it. I suppose he was convinced that one year I would all of a sudden like it, but it never happened. Every year I would give in and take a bite, chew, swallow, and then rush from the table to the bathroom where I would immediately vomit it up. For the first year or two, I was stubborn. I only went to the bathroom to spit up the bite to spite my father. And, he knew it. So, for my cheekiness it became a yearly tradition, and somewhere along the way my body actually started prepping ahead of time to throw it up. I had created a stomach that was for all intents and purposes, a no-stuffing zone. When I would reemerge from the bathroom, everyone was happily eating and chatting, and all because I manned up and started Thanksgiving.
Is there a lesson? Probably not. Parents do weird things, and Thanksgiving doesn’t make a whole lot of sense anyway. Whatever your weird, bizarre, troubling or strange tradition is, remember everyone has one, and mine was certainly worse than yours.
Oh, and consequently my Dad was right. It took 20 years, but now I pile the dressing on my plate and chow down with the best of them. And since it’s a tradition,
I get the first bite.