Sometimes you make blog friends in the most unlikely of places. I met Yuliya of She Suggests when she commented on a guest post I did at Scary Mommy. I visited her blog, loved it and we have been friends ever since. This is another great cross-cultural perspective on Thanksgiving.
What I love about being Russian, Jewish and growing up in America is that my family celebrated Every. Single. Holiday.
International Woman’s Day? Buy flowers, pamper the ladies and throw a feast!
Hanukah? Peek inside a synagogue and ready yourself for eight days of merriment!
Flag Day? Hoist ‘em up and drink ’til you see stars and stripes!
When I was a kid, I thought all this celebrating was because my parents were eager to embrace our new country by immersing themselves in American culture while remaining mindful of our Russian roots and Jewish traditions.
Now that I’m a little older and wiser, I realize, they just like to party.
When we first adopted the American holidays, including Thanksgiving, my parents would invite friends and family over, cook a huge Russian feast, (a minimum of seventeen dishes) and observed the one all-important tradition- plenty of ice cold Vodka.
Despite my begging, pleading and incessant screenings of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ for what an authentic Thanksgiving meal should look like, no consideration was given to the “American food” typically served for this holiday.
I’m pretty sure the only reason we even had a turkey was because it was on sale. (I grew to be resentful of turkey because for weeks after Thanksgiving my parents would procure a turkey from their overstuffed freezer and make it for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast.)
As for the trimmings? We served completely un-American things like fur coat (a dish made by layering pickled herring, onions, beets and lots of mayonnaise); my grandmother’s infamous egg, cheese and garlic salad; blintzes with sour cream and caviar, and on and on and on, with plenty of dill on top.
Then as the years went by the “American” turkey was joined by a sprinkling of traditional Thanksgiving fare like green beans or a solitary sweet potato. By the mid nineties our table began to resemble a Las Vegas style buffet dinner with its hodge podge of culinary concoctions.
It bordered on the ridiculous.
The poor cooks in charge of this holiday meal began to grumble… “We’ll never eat all of this” or “Herring and turkey really don’t go together…” And while they were met with resistance at first, “It’s just not a proper feast without Gefilte fish!” Slowly but surely, one dill -topped-dish at a time was being phased out.
And then the first child in our family, my cousin, was born in America. She was a real American. She could even run for President or Miss America!
That’s the year my aunt (her mother) bought a Martha Stewart cookbook and took over the Thanksgiving meal. She did it all – the turkey, the yams, two kinds of cranberry sauce and even a home made pecan pie.
We’ve had my Aunt’s Thanksgiving Dinner for nine years running now. We won’t let her change a thing on the menu, it’s all TRADITION now.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for many reasons, the meal being highest on the list. And while I am so grateful for this country and my family, and blah blah blah something else sentimental, my only Thanksgiving wish is that my aunt would make stuffing this year. But apparently, some things are still just too American.