Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanks for All the Fish

Thanksgiving at my house, until a few years ago, was a family going through the motions of a holiday such as this: There was always turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, mom's 7-layer salad that no one else eats, the canned cranberry jelly that only my sister likes. Some things never change, but some things must.

For example, only one person in my family has any particular fondness for turkey, and that's my brother. I don't eat meat anymore and was never particularly into the big holiday roast in the first place. Last year--which was, admittedly, in a period of mourning and so markedly different from any other Thanksgiving I could hope to celebrate in my life--the closest thing to turkey I ate was a cold chicken satay skewer from the Whole Foods deli case while sitting on the floor of a hotel room in San Francisco. I mean, there was nothing of tradition at that meal, and yet it was wonderful. Thanksgiving should be what it is and nothing more. Placing too much emphasis on it seems to detract from the day.

Today was more of a decentralized holiday feast. We'd decided weeks ago to forego turkey entirely; my brother grudgingly agreed on the basis that grilled salmon would be served instead. I offered to make mashed potatoes, but I made them with red potatoes (skins on) and mixed them up with olive oil, fresh rosemary, and a whole bulb of roasted garlic. I also made a strange coleslaw with a sweet yogurt dressing and mixed with dried cranberries and almond slices. Unfortunately, they paled next to the host of other dishes that were offered.

My sister dutifully prepared several sushi rolls: some with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and shrimpmeat and some with just vegetables. Always a winner. She also seemed to like my suggestion of making a dessert-like roll with almond on the outside and cranberry on the inside.

My brother's girlfriend's mother brought a casserole her daughter likes, as well as potato pancakes and applesauce. Anyone who brings potato pancakes is a-ok in my book. She also taught my mother that her pronunciation of "challah" is incorrect: mom had always pronounced it phonetically and no one could tell her any different, until, you know, someone who is actually Jewish finally figured out what she was saying. I just wish an Italian person would correct her on the "espresso" thing, but perhaps that will happen when she goes to Italy in April.

The Cambodians brought a big pot of stir-fried noodles. Mom requested they used only shrimp and no chicken, etc., for my sake. Which was nice. The visiting parents of the Indonesian student who lives with mom made a couple dishes involving chicken that looked good, but I did not try. They also failed to come to dinner themselves, which was a little odd.

Mom's salmon was, of course, delicious. And the fried rice with shrimp. Her challah, too. My sister-in-law, who's pregnant with her second baby, has always loved the bread and couldn't stop eating it. I think she would've eaten nothing but bread if mom would let her.

There was so much to eat it was a wonder we could eat anything at all. Too many choices.

And then, dessert. Pre-made pies/cakes, of course. We're a lazy bunch after all that other cooking. I brought a cheesecake. Mom picked up pecan and pumpkin pies, even after saying she was sick of pumpkin pie and didn't want to get one for this dinner. I had to eat some of all of them. It was all good to me. Mmm, sugar.

My sister is looking gorgeous after all the work she's done in the last couple months of lose weight. Get healthy, is more like it. She's been walking every morning with a woman my mom's age who sounds like a great walking partner, not to mention being on the poor college student diet that sort of forces healthy eating if you're not letting yourself buy junk exclusively. Anyway, she looks very healthy and beautiful.

(It made me think I need to stop with all the sugar...heh. I have sort of lapsed into a less good diet, which is, uh, less good, for obvious reasons. My schedule has been somewhat prohibitive, although I'm not sure how. But it must be rectified.)

I spent the evening watching Dogma on cable and then trying to beat my brother at Trivial Pursuit. The biggest problem with the latter part was that the version we were using was at least as old as I am (and older than my brother), so we were more than perplexed by a lot of the questions. I like playing with my set from last year better, even though it, too, will be far behind the times soon enough. At least the entertainment questions are things I can get.

I took the Civic back and drove myself home. I received a ride from Steph and her parents (and their very sweet dog Jake) down to Olympia this morning, since they happened to be going to Tumwater for the day. Very convenient. Traffic was fine both times, amazingly enough.

All in all, another jolly good Thanksgiving holiday.

Tomorrow I work 9 to 12:30, which is kind of crappy (cropped hours) and again on Saturday, covering Chris's usual hours. I'll still be short on hours for this pay period just from holidays, but what can you do. I'm hoping to to see the Gossip at Vera tomorrow night with whomever I can convince to go.

Monday is New House Day, and I plan to celebrate by bringing laundry up after class. Ha!

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