Consider the oily gravy quality of it all: the margarine-frosted rolls and the ranch-dunked greens, the mellowing yams and the savory stuffing—O the stuffing!—a brothy bread pudding baked in a bird’s butt.

Rib-sticking fare to be sure, albeit cooked and served up at a glacial pace—how quickly a morning of stovetops piping hot gives way to an afternoon of cluttered dining tables, of clumps cooling lukewarm under the echoes of grace—O, Black Friday Eve!—what would you be without cranberry sauce?

You folks who call this annual culinary ritual your favorite feast will never convince me. You will never convince my palate that turkey and gravy taste better than pepperoni pizza, buffalo wings, and a Caesar salad to be healthy 😉

Still, every Thanksgiving dinner there is a moment…

a moment when even I relax in the face of the multi-car pileup that is the conversation; a moment when I grow amiable despite the chain gang feel of the long table, the cramped seating, and the resulting battle of the elbows; a moment when I stop dreading the looming threat of all the slimy leftovers the matriarchy will surely force me to take home—O wretched menace that I am to society!

It is the moment when a helping of sweetened-bitter red pulp—slopped onto the stuffing beneath my churlish grin—makes me pucker, snatches me away from my malaise, and forces me to confess again wholeheartedly yes, it is good when we all come together like this.

So when I hear someone say, “Oh, I don’t care for cranberry sauce. It’s not for me,” I think to myself, they’re right. It’s not for them. It’s for me.

Poet’s Note:

For another piece exploring food and religious tradition, read A Fat Mormon Tries Lent.

Featured image by Shutterbug75 on Pixabay.