With the approach of Thanksgiving this year, it is a great opportunity to remind ourselves how much we have to be thankful for. It seems the older I get the more I appreciate the little things around me. It can be hard to stay positive with all the chaos in the world around us: turn on the news and there is always something new to worry about. Nevertheless, I believe, each of us can find something every day to give thanks about. For me, it is first and foremost, my family: my husband, my parents, my grandparents, my uncles and aunts and my precious cat Colby. My family and I recently celebrated my grandpa’s 92nd birthday! I cherish both of my grandparents, and I give thanks, not only on a daily basis, but for each year that we get to spend another holiday with all of us together and in good health. I realize that many people don’t have a close family or support system, people they can go to when in need. Without the love and support of my family around me I don’t know where I would be.
Being thankful and taking time to stop and look around you in your daily life helps give you a positive outlook. Despite my busy schedule, I try to make time to go for a walk each day. During these walks, it often surprises me when I suddenly hear the silence around me. Yes, I do mean hear the silence. When I first start out my head is often clogged with thoughts from my day reminding me of what I still need to get done. But, as my walk progresses, there comes a certain point that I don’t hear thoughts in my head anymore but can hear my own breathing, the birds singing around me, or the quiet of the day descending into night. Sometimes I will stop and take a deep breath and close my eyes and give thanks for the beauty that surrounds me. It is not everyone that can live in such a lovely town surrounded by natural landscapes and beautiful open meadows.
When it comes down to it, I am thankful for a lot: the house I live in, the warm clothes I have, my eyes, ears, nose, mouth, limbs, delicious food at every meal, music, a library (OWL!) where I have at my fingertips any book I want to read, or movie to watch or CD to listen to for free, walking trails and areas to ride my bike, forests, a car to use, the sun on my face, colorful leaves, clean air, the seasons, and so much more. My list could go on and on! The holidays are often commercialized and the true meaning overlooked, but if we each take a moment to think about the importance of them we’ll find much more significance than imagined. I encourage all of you readers to take a few moments out of your day to think about what you are thankful for: maybe you will want to share that with your family and friends this Thanksgiving!
Below are some of my favorite cookbooks and entertaining books to help you create a memorable and special day, as well as some of children’s books about Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving 101 has it all! This nifty little book has a ton of recipes for traditional style thanksgiving recipes, and some new ones as well that will add flare and excitement to your entrees. There are even various suggestions for different ways of cooking a turkey: Bayou Deep-Friend Turkey, Smoke Grilled Cider-Basted Turkey, Herb-Brined Roast Turkey and the Oven-Blasted Turkey. I like the little story about “The Great Blakened Turkey (Almost) Diasaster.” It reminds me of the story of when my mother and aunt tried to cook their first turkey many years ago. Although my cousins and I were not born yet, every year we hear the story of that “first” turkey, which was in-fact pre-cooked and only needed to be heated, yet my mother and aunt cooked it like a fresh turkey. My uncle says it looked like the size of a football when they opened the oven! I must say, my mother is now a fabulous cook but she will never outlive that one.
Holidays: Recipes, Gifts and Decoration Ideas is especially helpful if you are hosting your first Thanksgiving. Although Carlos and I will not be hosting this year, I will be making something to bring to my family’s house. I love to try new recipes especially anything that involves sweet potatoes (I have a mild obsession with this healthful starch). I also enjoy looking at all the creative ways to decorate the house and table for guests.
The Thanksgiving Cookbook contains an abundance of delicious recipes to try. Why not make something new to impress your family and friends? Try New England Style Butternut Squash, which has apple cider, fresh cranberries, cinnamon, chopped walnuts and pearl barley or Green Beans with Shiitake Mushrooms. Or add a twist to any traditional recipe, like sweet potato casserole with apples. I always enjoy browsing through cookbooks and reading new recipes, there is something calming about it, no?
The Squirrels Thanksgiving is a delightful children’s book about our pesky friends, the squirrels. Here, they celebrate their won thanksgiving inside their home. I love the illustrations of the squirrel family as they prepare their meal and interact.
A Turkey for Thanksgiving is the sweetest story about a moose couple who want a turkey for thanksgiving. Mr. Moose heads out in search for one, and other animal friends join in on the search. When they find the turkey, they bring him unwillingly back to the house. Much to the turkey’s surprise, they supply him with a chair near the head of the table. They did not want to eat him, they wanted to be surrounded by friends at thanksgiving.
Turkeys, Pilgrims and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols We shouldn’t forget how thanksgiving first started and the beautiful traditions that the Native American Indians carried out. They had a great reverence for nature and were in constant thanks for the bounty of food, supplies and beauty that surrounded them.
Enduring Harvest: Native American Foods and Festivals for Every Season is a nice collection of the different festivals and days of thanks that Native Americans had. “It is important to remember that many of our ancestors celebrated Thanksgiving all year long, in many ways, with many different foods, prayers, songs, and ideas.” I love this idea of there not being just one day where we give thanks, but that it is a continual thanksgiving for all that we are blessed with on a daily basis or yearly one at that. Try the recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Raisin Bread for a little kick on an old favorite.
What I look forward to most about thanksgiving dinner with my family is the stories and memories shared. And with my family, that usually means an ample amount of laughter and joking. I wish you all a fun-filled, relaxing and joyous thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends.
Sarai is the Library Assistant at the Oliver Wolcott Library.