I don’t know that I have bought a box of Jiffy cornbread mix since I was in college. Or that I have ever made green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and French’s fried onions. But every year, when I do my Thanksgiving grocery store shopping, I get practically mushy when I see the holiday displays with those items.
Thanksgiving brings that out in a way that so many other holidays don’t. Christmas, even for those who celebrate it, is so full of Scrooges that Dickens had to invent the character to explain the phenomenon. And does anyone really like Valentine’s Day? The rest, meanwhile, have mostly been turned into three-day weekends; when’s the last time someone made a cherry pie for President’s Day?
But Thanksgiving? That’s a holiday worth celebrating, and that’s what I see at the grocery store. Turkeys, which are usually stuffed in a freezer case in the back, are front and center. Fresh cranberries, almost impossible to find the rest of the year, are in the produce section. And people pick and choose over bags of bread cubes in a way they would make fun of in June or July.
There’s something shared about Thanksgiving that has so much to do with what we share as Americans. It’s not a tradition that someone brought over from the old country, like St. Patrick’s Day, which really doesn’t apply to the rest of us (no matter how much the beer companies wish it would). It can be religious, but it’s not a religious holiday like Christmas. Instead, it celebrates our good fortune to be here, in a country where we have put so many of the problems behind us that we had in the places where we came from.
Now all I have to decide is whether to smoke or roast the turkey.