Thursday, November 26, 2009
An Immigrant Thanksgiving
We understood turkey. We preferred chicken, but, fine. Turkey could be dealt with. It was a kosher animal, after all. No problem with the turkey. The problem with my family were always the other dishes, like the desserts, which we grouped in our minds as not quite Jewish.
Pumpkin pie? No. Dessert to us was only coffee cake and it was never actually sliced. It was served the exact same way it is now: put in the center of a table of hungry, dieting women all holding forks and, voila, ten minutes later it's gone. Pecan pie? We were firm about this. Absolutely the only nuts in our family were humans - all the strange inbred Jews who emigrated as one block, hairnets on their heads, frowns on their faces, purses stiffly carried from room to room, no English. I spent years not knowing whom one woman was who came to every party on my mother's side. Finally I asked. She was one of my aunts.
My mother's now been in the U.S. for sixty years; we should know how to do this by now. But today, at our Thanksgiving dinner, besides all the other stuff, here's what I saw: Turkey, Matzah Ball soup, Challah. Is this some kind of immigrant Thanksgiving? Or maybe we're half pilgrim and half Jewish, half American and half Lithuanian, even after all this time. Happy Thanksgiving.