The Yenta is spending a highly “traditional” Thanksgiving holiday in Scottsdale, AZ with all members of the immediate family including the Bubbe, who we roll in from the nursing home every day so she can bask in the glow created by sparks of toys banged together by shrieking great-grandchildren.
My parents, so happy to have not only my whole mishpotech but my Brother-the-Surgeon in town, cooked a sumptuous, all-American meal straight outta Betty Crocker complete with marshmallow-encrusted yams and cranberry sauce from scratch. (This was, in fact, the first time I have ever known my mother to cook anything at all since the microwave was invented.)
We’re not anywhere near halachic-grade Jews (although no pig has ever set foot, ear or chop near this kitchen) and even though our haimesh relatives moved back to Jerusalem last summer, my folks have gotten used to ordering a kosher turkey. The Surgeon got carving duties, natch. When I commented on the precision cut of the breast, he shrugged and said “same as a mastectomy.” I ate dark meat.
Anyway, I find it interesting that our Jewish family, the oldest one of us a Polish immigrant, knows how to follow the traditions and foods of this American holiday as well (and better than, in some cases) as our Jewish ones. After all Christian pilgrims swapping maize recipes with the natives? not so much our history.
Maybe it depends on whose version of history you’re reading: The first Jew to come to America, a Czech metallurgist in service to Britain, arrived here in 1585 and kicked early settlements into gear by discovering how to smelt copper. And those pilgrims? It’s been posited that the first American settlers were actually Jews.
Maybe it’s a stretch, but as an American Jew, it’s important to know that American history is American Jewish history, no matter what those intelligent design people want to teach your kids in school.
And whether you’re eating bird or serving up a nice vegetarian curry, most everyone has a long weekend off. Here’s to enjoying time with the people you love.
*Photo of Jewish poultry farmer plucking a turkey for market circa 1940 c/o Library of Congress.