Friday, November 23, 2012

a moderate thanksgiving

We face a special, decadent challenge each Thanksgiving.  We travel to Sevierville, Tennessee, for the family reunion of my mother-in-law’s mother’s family.  2012 was the 114th annual Tarwater family reunion! 

The parcel of land traditionally owned by the Tarwaters was carved up in plots, one of which my mother-in-law was given by her mother (along with each of her four siblings).  Zan built a gorgeous hewn-wood cabin at the top of her hill.  So each year, we have a family celebration and a tranquil, rustic setting.  East Tennessee in the fall is remarkable by anyone’s standards. 

The three of us headed out on a hike before Thanksgiving dinner.
At high noon on Thanksgiving Day, we arrive at the American Legion in Sevierville.  The Tarwaters have a standing reservation for the building – and we need all the room!  There are usually between 100 and 200 people at the reunion.  The Legion has two big rooms.  The back room is where we all sit.  The front room is just for food.  Four eight foot tables laden with family favorites.  And one extra table just for desserts!  Any Thanksgiving dish you are looking for – you can find it here. 

You thought I was full of exaggerations.
Which poses special problems for a pregnant lady sort of trying to watch what she eats.  I’m not trying to reduce my consumption, really, just to be wise about what I choose to fill myself with.  (I’m not really renowned for my moderation, as my waistline and pantry can attest!)

This year, I made a list of all the foods I really wanted to eat, ahead of time.  What tops my list for Thanksgiving?  Deviled eggs, turkey and gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, green salad, and cranberry sauce.  Rolls and dessert?  Not as essential as the savories.  As I made my way down the line, I kept my list in mind (I actually kept my little list in my back pocket and pulled it out once).  And it really worked!  With the addition of a little spoonful of pasta salad, and some kind of pumpkin-cream cheese muffin, and the noticeable absence of mashed potatoes (smh), I stuck to my list.  I was especially thrilled because the green salad category was fulfilled by a genre of salad I adore – an Asian cabbage slaw with crumbled dry Ramen noodles and almonds. 

Anyway, I just felt the need to describe my strategy to anyone who faces a similar Thanksgiving situation:  not a well-defined menu, but rather a smorgasbord of more food than could ever all be sampled by one person.  Good luck!

P.S. I totally blew all my efforts by eating a pound of buttery salted popcorn when we went to see Life of Pi that night.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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