I Elect the Cocktail Party


Well, it’s that time again—time for us to make a choice. It always seems to come down to an either/or choice, doesn’t it? But, why does it have to be all or nothing?

For the last couple of months, every time I pick up a magazine or newspaper (okay, I mean, read an article online), I am being told that time is running out for me to make a decision for this Nov-ember, and that what I decide could have severe and lasting impact on myself and my family, possibly for years to come. The choice that I make this month will show just how important my family is to me and how seriously I take my role in the health of not only them and myself but also of the country at large. It seems as if the entire weight of the world is relying on my decision this month. In fact, the whole thing always seems to be wrapped up in the theme of “family values” and choosing between “traditional values” and “change.” It feels like such an obligation. In fact, it’s almost too much of
a responsibility.

It seems to me that the traditional choice has for some time now become to be considered as unprogressive, and you are made to feel as if you are somehow not as good a person, or uneducated, or even a bit “redneck,” or lacking in some way, if you really want to keep to those family traditions.

On the other hand, people who are inclined to embrace change and the “new” way of doing things are seen as more open- minded, more educated, and healthier. But I take offense at these extreme views. I don’t see why I can’t have it both ways. I want my cake and to eat it, too—and for it to be half the calories. It’s time for a third choice.

Beginning in about September, every magazine (with the glaring exception of this one, of course!) starts imploring me to get ready to try the newest recipe for the upcoming holidays. They use the foulest language to describe the traditional Thanksgiving menu as being too high in fat, too many calories, too high in cholesterol, too much sodium, too much of a good thing, and they reprimand those of us who don’t want to give up our 10,000 calorie feast for a tofu turkey and kale salad. They promise that creamed cauliflower will taste exactly like whipped potatoes. I just refuse to believe this. And the only way that I would never miss the cream of mushroom soup in the green bean casserole is if I had a cocktail or too many. This doesn’t make me a bad person. Well, even if it does, I don’t care. And I don’t care if it makes me a bad mother, a bad wife, or a bad citizen. I want my traditional Thanksgiving meal!

Now, I am not actually against change, but I don’t think trying something new for the first time should make its debut at something as important as the Thanksgiving table. I think any new dish for that import-ant of a role should be tried out and tested long beforehand to make sure that it can prove itself worthy of replacing a dish that we know, from experience, is one that most everybody enjoys. Which is exactly what I did when trying out a new variation of the traditional cranberry dish. As much as I love my mother-in-law’s traditional cranberry congealed salad recipe, one year I wanted to try actual real cranberries, so in addition to her traditional family recipe, I made Martha Stewart’s orange cranberry sauce. It is now one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, and it is healthier, too! But, it took several
years before it actually replaced the congealed salad.

All of those high-end cooking magazines that suggest change just for the sake of change and tout the latest food craze with recipes that I need a field guide to figure out what they are talking about make me feel insecure about my choices. They are bullying me into trying to conform to their view of the better Thanksgiving meal for me and my family. It’s just one day a year (okay maybe three with leftovers), so let me have my fat and butter and cream and bread and stuffing and dressing and cakes and pies and cream of mushroom soup. I like it! I look forward to it every year. I know from experience that after enjoying my fattening traditional Thanksgiving dinner I will have to get back to Zumba!

I know change can be good, but sometimes the choices just aren’t that inspiring. No matter how you dress it up, cauliflower isn’t potatoes, and I can taste the impostor.

It’s all gotten so political that as a third option, I just might elect to go for cranberry cocktails instead.

Happy Thanksgiving. Cheers!


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