In a few weeks I will be hosting Thanksgiving at my home. It almost feels like pretending, like I am not quite ‘adult’ enough at 40 to be in charge of such an important celebration. This isn’t the first time I have hosted a major holiday. That time we ate a pre-made Thanksgiving meal from the local grocery store on paper plates with plastic utensils because my family had graciously come to help us move into our first home over the holiday weekend. This time I am cooking. I am fortunate to still have grandparents, parents, and aunts & uncles that typically have all of us to their homes for the holidays. But whether I am in charge of bringing one dish or I am planning the menu for the entire weekend, there is a unique pressure in being a Dietitian at holiday time.
I am usually assigned the salad, or a fruit or vegetable which I am more than happy to create. That’s easy. However I want to continue the holiday traditions I remember for my own children and many of those include food. And not the kind of recipes that you are going to find on the latest health site. Many of our traditional holiday recipes have been passed down for generations and are eagerly anticipated once or twice per year. Turkey stuffing. Sweet potato casserole. Grandmas sugar cookies. Pecan pie. And you know what? I am not going to change a single ingredient in the recipe. I am not going to try and make it ‘healthier’. I may add in a couple more vegetable dishes because that is who I am, but I want the meal to bring back memories of celebrations past and connect it to my children’s future.
Food isn’t just nutrition. Sometimes it is a reflection of our history, our relationships with others and a link to special memories. Don’t misunderstand; I recognize that because of allergies or medical diagnosis there may be necessary alterations to tradition because a small amount will cause harm. If not, the benefit of connection with our families and friends is worth giving yourself permission to enjoy all the day has to offer, even if it just a taste. Then go play in the leaves. Run a turkey trot. Clean house for the host (hint).
I am off the grocery store, don’t judge my cart.