Giving Thanks For Family

Getting nearly everyone in the extended family together for a day of catching up, games calculated to make everyone look silly, and deep conversations on topics such as whether the trout fishing is better here or there – and why – make Thanksgiving a holiday nearing Christmas on my personal popularity list.

Did I mention that extended family includes some of the best cooks this side of the restaurant district in New York City? And by the way, contrary to what you may see on television, the best food is prepared by cooks, not chefs.

Where in NYC can you get dried beans (or “leatherbreeches,” as some refer to them)? What French restaurant serves turkey slow cooked in a smoker? And, perhaps ironically, where in the Big Apple can you get a really good piece of apple pie?

There’s more to the menu. Typically, it includes homemade noodles, creamy consistency mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole with pecans and marshmallow, ham that threatens to fall apart on your fork, gravy that has never seen the inside of a jar, cornbread stuffing, freshly baked (not thawed) rolls with real butter, broccoli with that terribly unhealthy cheddar cheese melted atop it, real cranberries … and then there are the pies: apple, cherry, mincemeat, pumpkin, lemon meringue, chocolate, butterscotch and occasionally, strawberry with rhubarb. Leave room for a piece of homemade fudge.

Intermission (you can eat only so much at one sitting) includes football and family game time. Nothing relieves the stress of everyday life quite so much as passing a rubber ball down a line of people without anyone using their hands.

Too much materialism and levity for a serious holiday? Too the contrary.

Again, everyone’s there. It is impossible not to feel a deep sense of thanksgiving when a grand-nephew gives you a big hug, a niece shows off her new baby girl, both daughters are laughing together until the tears run down their cheeks, and your beloved is taking compliments about the food she prepared.

Sure, the food’s great, not surpassed even at Christmas. But it’s just an excuse.

The family’s the thing. How can one not be grateful?

Happy Thanksgiving.

Myer can be reached at: