Memories, reflections, and smoked turkey
From all of us at Legal Insurrection, to you, dear reader, we wish you the Happiest of Thanksgivings. May gratefulness and thanksgiving be your constant companions and may you enjoy the fullness and richness of blessings this life has so generously given.
We are truly thankful for you.
This year, our authors, editors, and contributors share their favorite parts of Thanksgiving, their cherished memories, and reflect on that which makes them grateful.
William A. Jacobson
My most vivid memories are of watching the March of the Wooden Soldiers every Thanksgiving morning as a kid. It was both scary and fun. It’s hard to say which was my favorite scene, but I think it was when they fired up the soldiers and they came to life. It was such a simple story of good versus evil, and the good guys won.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Living in a country that established as a national holiday, a day to reflect upon our blessings and give thanks to our benevolent Creator is truly special. “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor,” George Washington wrote in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789. Now, more than ever, it’s a blessing to have a day dedicated to gratefulness, a virtue forever in short supply. Gratefulness and thanksgiving are transformative when practiced generously.
So abundantly thankful for the life I’ve been given, for the people I’m privileged to share my life with, for sweet potato casserole, for the LI team, Professor Jacobson and the missus, and for you, dear reader. Wishing you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings.
My favorite things about Thanksgiving: Well, it’s nice we have a designated day to give thanks, but honestly, we should be thankful every day. You know, like how Hillary Clinton is not our president! I am not a Trump fan, but I was always #NeverHillary. I love being with family and friends. But this year I am staying home due to my sprained ankle and my hand in a cast due to a partially torn ligament. My best friend Michelle will be here to keep me company, though. This injury has made me VERY THANKFUL FOR THUMBS!
I really wish the Legal Insurrection team could celebrate Thanksgiving together, though. I’ve been so happy here at the blog!
I’m thankful for my family, my friends, and my faithful dog. I’m also thankful for Legal Insurrection readers! I hope everyone has a great holiday.
On this side of the Atlantic, Thanksgiving came just a couple of days early. Angela Merkel’s dream of steering the fate of Germany, and by default, that of Europe, for four more years came crashing down this weekend after an old ally unexpectedly turned on her. The threat hasn’t totally dissipated, but it’s certainly time for a sigh of relief and thanksgiving, especially for those of us who care about the future of the Western civilization.
Keeping my hopes modest, I am also praying for a quiet and peaceful Christmas. Recent arrests made in Germany reveal Islamist plans of carrying out a bloodbath ahead of Christmas.
I am grateful that publications like Legal Insurrection continue to give me the opportunity to reach out to a wider audience in these perilous times. And most of all I thank my readers for their year-long support, insightful comments, and occasional criticisms.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, in large part because my mom always made it so special. This is my first Thanksgiving since my mom passed this spring, so it’s particularly poignant. She loved Thanksgiving, and it was always an event in our house. My dad was in the Air Force, so we always had single airmen over for this special holiday when they were so far from home. Mostly, I remember the smells of the dinner, the camaraderie and laughter, my mother’s insistence that we dressed for the occasion to honor our country, our guests, and ourselves. I also recall my mom getting up at the crack of dawn to put the enormous turkey in the oven and her wistful sadness entwined with her selfless happiness that her hours of shopping, cooking, decorating, and planning made so many people so happy but was all over so quickly.
There seem to be specific times at which different families dine on Thanksgiving. Some dine at noon, some at two, and our family always dined at four. Unsurprisingly, that has remained my favorite time for Thanksgiving dinner: late enough that you don’t have to be in the kitchen at 3 a.m. and early enough that one can catch a football or a nap before diving into dessert or leftovers.
Our family’s guests would arrive around 2, and there would be hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and socializing, and then we’d all gather around the beautifully appointed table my mother had spent loving hours designing. We’d take our seats, and we’d join hands and give great thanks for all that we valued: our family, our friends, our health, our happiness, the food on our table, the breath in our lungs. Had we known then what we know now, we might have taken a moment to thank God for our ability to so freely share our faith.
I can see so clearly my mom, at the same age I am now. as she would dig through boxes to locate her Thanksgiving decorations or putter happily around the kitchen planning this fabulous side dish and that. Then my dad would come in and say, “Hey, Jo, a bunch of guys just flew in from Ramstein. I invited them all to Thanksgiving.” To which my mom would invariably reply, “Wonderful, Dear! How many?”
I’m a feeling a bit soppy and nostalgic this Thanksgiving, but don’t think for a moment that I’m not thankful this year that we have President Trump and not President Hillary Clinton. Heck, if nothing else, this is the first in too many years that the WH hasn’t recommended pushing, replete with Obama-approved talking points, ObamaCare at the Thanksgiving table. For that alone, I am truly thankful.
On Thanksgiving I always watch the old 1986 episode of the sitcom “Cheers” when the entire gang from the bar, each either unable or unwilling to be with their own family, gathers at Carla’s house for Thanksgiving dinner (this “Thanksgiving Orphans” episode is so popular that it has its own Wikipedia page). Diane, dressed in a Pilgrim costume, tries to play host. But the dinner collapses into a food fight. The video clip is below, in case you haven’t seen it.
I love that Cheers episode because even though the food was terrible and the gang bickered at the table, they were all together on the holiday, supporting each other like always. That’s what matters, and what Thanksgiving is all about.
Personally, I have so much to be thankful for this year. I’m tremendously grateful for my spouse of 24 years. I’m truly thankful that my parents—both in their 90s—can be with us this year for the holiday (Dad is a naturalized U.S. citizen, a U.S. Army vet who fought in Korea and who is still a fierce American patriot; Mom is a talented artist who was born in Utah and grew up in Cheyanne, Wyoming and ended up working for 40 years in New York City). I’m thankful for my wonderful children who bring joy and meaning to my life. As a citizen of Israel, I’m thankful for all the help that this extraordinary country provides to its suffering neighbors and for all that it gives to the world. As an American, I’m thankful for all the political and social benefits that living in this amazing country affords. Not to get too sappy, but I must add how appreciative I am to be part of the LI team and to have this new group of extraordinarily talented people in my life!
Every year I’m conscious of the special gifts of my family, my (still pretty good) health, and my friends and colleagues at the Jewish Federation of Central NY, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, The Israel Group, and The Academic Engagement Network. Together, we fight the good fight for our campuses and for our communities each and every day.
I wish you the most wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I hope that you are surrounded by the warm support of family and friends today and always. May we carry gratitude with us throughout the year.
I happen to like Thanksgiving. Always have. It’s a holiday for anyone and everyone in this country—except, of course, people who hate turkey. There are quite a few of those curmudgeonly folks, but I’m happy to report I’m not one of them. Even if the turkey ends up dry and overcooked, it’s nothing that a little gravy and cranberry sauce can’t fix. And although the turkey is the centerpiece, it’s the accompaniments that make the meal.
My theory on turkeys is that they’re like children: you coax them along and just do the best you can, but as long as you don’t utterly ruin or abuse them, they have their own innate characteristics that will manifest in the end. A dry and tough bird will be a dry and tough bird despite all that draping in fat-soaked cheesecloth. A tender and tasty one can withstand a lot of cooking incompetence.
For me, there are three traditional requirements—besides the turkey, of course. There has to be at least one pecan pie, although eating it in all its cloying sweetness can put an already-sated person right over the top. The cranberry sauce has to be made from fresh cranberries (it’s easy: cranberries, water, and sugar to taste, simmered on top of the stove till mushy and a bright deep red), and lots of it. It’s good on turkey sandwiches the next day, too). The traditional stuffing in my family is non-traditional: a large quantity of cut-up Granny Smith apples cooked in a fair amount of sherry as well as a ton of butter till a bit soft; and then mixed with prunes, almonds, and one Sara Lee poundcake reduced to crumbs by crushing with the hands.
Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that has a theme that is vaguely religious—giving thanks—but has no specific religious affiliation. So it’s a holiday that unites. It’s one of the least commercial holidays as well because it involves no presents. It’s a home-based holiday, which is good, too, except for those who don’t have relatives or friends to be with. One drawback is the terribly compressed travel time; I solve that by not usually traveling very far if I can possibly help it.
The main advantage to hosting the day is having leftovers left over. The main disadvantage of hosting the day is having leftovers left over.
I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, filled with friends and/or family of your choice, and just the right amount of leftovers.
A week and a half ago I had the opportunity to drive with my 16-year-old to Crabtree Falls in Virginia. The last time we had been there I was so out of shape I only managed .6 miles along the 1.7 mile trail to the top of the falls. But this time, I was able to do it, and the scenery was amazing. So let me share some of the better photos with you.
Marie Stroughter (AACONS)
We have a tradition in our home: each year, the kids make paper leaves in various fall colors, and upon each one, we write one thing for which we are thankful. Each leaf goes in a pile and we take turns reading them aloud to each other.
Now that the kids are older, it’s become more of a list than leaves, but the principle is much the same…taking time to reflect on the year’s blessings.
Every year, the site I co-founded, African-American Conservatives, along with my other co-founders — makes the list, along with a few other political things. Though still profoundly thankful for AACONS and my AACONS family, I’ve recently taken a little step back from politics.
It’s not that I no longer care since “our guy” is in office — no, quite the contrary, I’m still as concerned as ever. But, while politics has always had an ugly, nasty underbelly, it’s been — to me, at least — especially toxic lately.
It might be because of the polling that shows our biased media even more negative toward this president. But, it’s more likely because someone quite close to me is a survivor of childhood sexual assault, and the current news is just a little too close to home.
So, this year — whether on “hiatus” from politics or not, I am thankful for God’s salvation, my family, close friends…and my friends here online that I’ve made over the years during this journey.
My favorite memories of Thanksgiving are the food I enjoyed on that day as a child.
It was always just the two of us. I had no real siblings and I rarely saw any of my aunts and uncles and cousins growing up, and especially not on holidays. I would see my father on Thanksgiving but he would only drop by our apartment briefly. Every year he would quickly eat what my mother served him, then leave to share some of the day with people I would later learn were other girlfriends and other children.
Nonetheless, my mother would always make an elaborate spread capable of feeding at least ten people. Well, there was enough food to feed at least ten Black people, I should say. Like other ethnic groups, Blacks tend to serve different fare than what is considered the norm for the holiday.
Typically Thanksgiving dinner for us would consist of a roasted chicken, fried chicken, dressing covered with can-shaped cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese, mixed vegetables, cabbage, cornbread, and, of course, my favorite, chitlins. Chitlins, for people who aren’t Blacks of a certain age and aren’t from the South, are basically boiled pig intestines and are often called by their proper name “chitterlings” by people who should never be trusted to properly make them.
Dessert for me would be a slice or two of chocolate cake, homemade with the help of a box of Betty Crocker yellow cake mix, and a few scoops of Breyer’s ice cream.
Of course, this was a time before we were told that with Soul Food came a price, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. Back then all we knew was that it was good. In fact, it was great. Who doesn’t love boiled pig intestines?
Sadly, as the song goes, I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.
Tomorrow it will be just me and mom once again. My father has passed away and my own family are either far away or have long ago gone in a separate direction from myself. And while there will be food served, it won’t be the delicious artery-clogging cuisine I remember.
I think it is better this way. It’s healthier at least, and that’s important. Among the many great blessings The Lord has bestowed upon me the greatest among them, second only to the gift of life, has been the health with which He has blessed my mother and me, and the strength to continue, despite the many changes life shows us.
And on Thanksgiving, as I should every day, I will surely thank Him.
Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekayeDONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.