Now is the season for mastication. That’s what the next, let’s see, six weeks or more means to me. Not that I relish making a pig out of myself and overeating, but there are many more opportunities to munch on iced cookies and fudge and chile relleno balls and empanadas than any other time of year. You know, those grab-and-go treats people bring to work between now and New Year’s Day.
You think, oh, I’ll just have this one little cookie. They’re so small, maybe I’ll have a couple more.
Before you know it, there goes the waistline. Time to buy new britches.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. It seems the older I get the more I love the taste of food, both fast and slow, processed and natural. One of my favorite oldies from the 1970s (which I don’t think you hear on the radio anymore) is a song called Junk Food Junkie. It’s about this guy who puts on a big show of eating all natural and healthy foods during the day, but at night he pulls his stash of Twinkies and Fritos and Moon Pies and Ding Dongs out from under his bed and finds bliss.
Stuff like that is a guilty pleasure for me, and sometimes I think my sweet tooth is in control of my brain. For example, when my wife said, “don’t forget to go by Nusenda,” but what I heard was, “don’t forget go buy Nutella.” Hey, am I alone here?
Aside from that, though, when it come to real food there’s nothing to compare to a big Thanksgiving feast (and the leftovers for days afterwards).
I do find myself getting sentimental about all the Thanksgivings in my life; from the one when I was single and eating a Hungry Man turkey TV dinner, or the turkey with oyster stuffing with friends at Muleshoe Ranch, or the Thanksgiving on Guam with not turkey but Filipino pancit. Not unlike Dickens, sometime I feel like I’ve been visited by the Ghost of Thanksgiving Past.
Having celebrated over sixty-some-odd Thanksgivings over my lifetime, I’ve learned it’s not what you eat, but with whom you are eating; whether it’s at home, with friends at the DAV feast, or just with memories of loved ones now gone.
Growing up, Thanksgiving dinner was just short of chaos at our house. It was myself and my five brothers and sisters crowded around this eight foot dinner table that my older brother custom made in woodshop. Our parents sat on the far ends. Or rather, our dad on one end and my mother never having time to have a seat on the other end.
In school, Thanksgiving meant we dressed up in those big-collar pilgrim costumes and construction paper hats for a school pageant, or drew turkeys around our fingers in crayon.
We all learned about the pilgrims and Plymouth Rock, and how the local Wampanoag natives all sat down in 1621 for the first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts.
But I was wondering, wasn’t it in 1598 the Europeans from Spain had a meal together with the local natives? I’m thinking about the first meal Don Juan Oñate and his “pilgrims” had in Pilabo pueblo, what’s now Socorro.
When Oñate and his caravan arrived here after their journey up the Chihuahuan desert they were met by the Piro pueblo people who brought out food and water. That could qualify for a Thanksgiving of sorts, couldn’t it?
But wait, a few weeks before that – down south of Las Cruces – was a Thanksgiving meal of sorts that couldn’t be beat. It was with the Mansos Indians.
History tells us after crossing the big river, somewhere around the Mesilla area, Oñate and his men presented the Mansos with clothing. In return, the Mansos gave them freshly caught fish from the Rio Grande. In an act of giving thanks, Oñate arranged for a feast to be held in honor of the company's miraculous survival and asked the Mansos to be their guests.
It is said the banquet included fish, duck, and geese as well as food the Oñate party brought with them, and this act of “thanksgiving” may have been the very first to be celebrated on the continent.
Anyway, here we are 420 years later, and Thanksgiving is a national holiday. They say the day after turkey day is Black Friday, but I call it “Friday-after-Thanksgiving-itis.” A disease second only to spring fever in its effects. I mean, it’s the day some people get off, but you have to work and get all antsy and nothing gets done anyway.
By the way, if your birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year, you are Sagittarius and your horoscope says for your good fortune you must shop. A lot.
And no matter what line you’re in, the other line moves faster.