It’s early. The girls, home from college, are still asleep. My husband and our faithful Golden Riley are also still asleep. We’re missing one member of the Zafft household, but he will hopefully be home in about three weeks. So, before the baking and kneading and wine drinking begin, I sit by candlelight in my morning happy space and reflect on Thanksgivings past…
And how my favorite Thanksgivings were the messiest, most unstructured and chaotic, when something inevitably burned or dishes got broken or some child accidentally punched another. One such Thanksgiving—definitely one of my favorites—took place the year we lived in Houston, in 2004. Our kids went to an International School and Houston is a big oil-producing city; hence—lots of expats. Around our table, sat Dutch, French, Egyptian, Lebanese and Nigerian families and our Indian friends from across the street. We had traditional Thanksgiving fare, but each family brought a dish, and goodness, it was a culinary UN!
There was ample good wine and equally ample conversation, debate, and laughter. And quite a few disagreements; this was during the Iraq War, when our French friends had bumper stickers on their cars that read, Texas is Bigger than France (a response to the whole Freedom Fries debacle). Our French and Egyptian friends had a lot to say on the matter. And there were a few dishes didn’t work. One of the pies was overcooked, and the ice cream, accidentally left out, could not demonstrate pie a la mode. And all twenty or so kids ran around in socks in our no shoe slippery floor house and fell into walls and screamed and fought and someone got lost playing hide and go seek. We eventually found them.
But it was all good, better than good. It was true. And it was fun.
I was listening to a podcast yesterday, where my favorite ever food writer Ruth Reichl read a few Thanksgiving stories. She wrote about one particular problematic Thanksgiving when a dish didn’t work and the mismatched china was chipped. But she realized that none of that mattered.
Her take away? Perfect evenings rarely lead to good friends.
It seems that the most fulfilling moments are those when we can be true. When we can let our guard down and metaphorically bring our entire selves to the table and be seen for all that we are, warts and all, chipped china and all. Perfectionism just plain sucks. It’s not obtainable anyway. And it’s not any fun.
So today, on this joyous day of giving thanks and spending time with friends and family, maybe we can practice bringing everything to the table, and appreciating everything we see.