Slice of life - On Thanksgiving

by Meg Heiman

Thanksgiving Day is scarier than Halloween. <BR><BR>To be sure, it’s a bit frightening to figure out how to manage to get seven or eight different dishes on the table at the same time without the mashed potatoes getting cold or the green beans getting rubbery. <BR><BR>And for those of us who host friends or relatives in our homes - especially when they stay for a few nights - the Thanksgiving holiday can be a cause for alarm. <BR><BR>Then there’s the fear of overindulgence - that one might eat too much, drink too much, say too much - or perhaps that fear belongs only to me. <BR><BR>But the most unsettling thing about Thanksgiving is the giving thanks part. As with most issues, this one can be traced back to childhood. From the time we’re barely old enough to walk, we’re prompted with words like “What do you say?” and “Now, what do you want to tell Grandma?” and we learn to sing, “Thaaaank yoooou.” <BR><BR>Later, when we’re older, we’re made to write out thank you notes and cards. This time we ask, “What do I write?” and we’re told, “Dear Auntie. I loved the sweater you sent me for my birthday. I will wear it all the time.” And so we write what we’re told (but inside we know that we hate the itchy sweater and we swear never to wear it). <BR><BR>Eventually we grow up and we learn to say thanks without being reminded to. At least most of us do. <BR><BR>But being taught to give thanks is a bit like being taught to pray: both create a dilemma. It’s intended that through repetition our words and actions will form a habit, but by definition a habit is what we do without thinking. Giving thanks becomes a habit; we’re able to do it - and do it well - without much thought. <BR><BR>And if, on the day of the year that is set aside to focus on this whole business of giving thanks, we’re distracted by large meal preparations or guests, then by default we can still go through the motions of giving thanks. We can bow our heads or go around the table to express that which we’re most thankful for. <BR><BR>In this way, giving thanks is as easy as pie. There’s nothing scary about pie. <BR><BR>But... somewhere along the line, we begin to think. We begin to realize that the habits we formed when we were young were meant to set a foundation upon which we should build, not upon which we should stand. <BR><BR>How do we build upon our habit of giving thanks? Do we make regular donations to the food pantry? Volunteer to read to a child at school? Coach a team? Do we recycle? Go to church? Mentor a teen? Listen to an opposing view? <BR><BR>If we already give in these ways, then what? How do we refrain from going through the motions to express our thankfulness and step things up a bit? <BR><BR>This is the challenge. This is nothing like pie. This is the scary part about thanksgiving.<BR><BR>Here is a recipe for a somewhat non-traditional pumpkin pie. Enjoy!<BR><BR>PUMPKIN PIE<BR><BR>Crust: 1 c sifted flour, 1/2 c oats, 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 c softened butter<BR><BR>Filling: 2 cups (one can) pumpkin, 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk, 2 eggs, 1/4 c sugar, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t ground ginger, 1/4 t ground cloves, 1/2 t salt<BR><BR>Topping: 1/2 c chopped pecans, 1/2 c brown sugar, 2 T softened butter<BR><BR>Preheat oven to 350. To make crust, mix crust ingredients until crumbly using an electric mixer on low speed. Press into ungreased pie pan. Bake 15 minutes. <BR><BR>Meanwhile, beat filling ingredients well. Pour over cooked crust. Bake 20 minutes. <BR><BR>Remove from oven; combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over the partially cooked filling. Bake 30 or more minutes or until filling is set. Cool before cutting.<BR><BR>