Let’s be honest. We all secretly hope for a bird that looks like this:

BUT…

in reality, we get a bird that looks like this:

Is there a difference? Yes. If your bird comes out looking like the first, great. Pats on backs all around. You may be able to perfectly roast a turkey year after year, bringing family and friends back around the table with the beautiful roast bird. Still, even with a turkey that looks like the second, it’s not really about looks. It’s not really even about taste. As we’ve heard conflicting stories over the years on what the Pilgrims actually ate that first fateful November night, butter might not have been on the menu as heavy as we use it today. There was venison, and swan. Some cornbread. Some English Cheese Pie as well, for what it’s worth. No pork. No ham. Over the centuries, we’ve taken the idea of the Turkey feast and run with it to suit our idea of what a bountiful harvest looks like, but what we really should be giving thanks for is that we have the access to not only foods of the fall harvest, but the means to procure it, and the ability to search out the smallest details that we believe makes our dinner memorable. More celebrated than the fact that we are able to bring the harvest to the table should be the thanks that we are able to enjoy the company and fellowship of friends and family, revel in conversation, smiles, and a couple bottles of wine, and pay tribute to the traditions that have served our dinners in the past. This year, I will raise a glass to sharing my meal with my parents and sister’s families, aunts, uncles and their families, my girlfriend, but also in appreciation of those with whom I’ve shared my Thanksgivings in years past.

For my friends from work, who have invited me to their houses for their meals where we ate vegetarian dinners cooked over ancient stoves- Happy Thanksgiving.

For friends from Chicago and beyond, who have opened their homes when we weren’t able to make it home for the Holidays- Happy Thanksgiving.

For my family members whose memories we carry with us every year, especially at the holidays. Wherever you happen to celebrate, and to whomever you happen to celebrate with- Happy Thanksgiving.

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