Posted November 24th, 2010 | Uncategorized

My family’s Thanksgiving Experience is a little strange.

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It’s like “My Big Fat Filipino Thanksgiving.”  Sure, we have traditional Turkey, Gravy, Potatoes, and Pies.  However, we also grace our table with lumpia (egg rolls), pancit (noodle dish), and why not throw in my sister’s lasagna too.  Since I’ve taken some intense baking courses to supplement my savory inclinations, I will be making my savory and sweet profiteroles dessert, filled with apples lightly braised in brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and blue cheese!  Not your traditional version of apple pie this year, but this dessert definitely works!

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Growing up a non-anglo (namely, Filipino American), I always felt the pressure to try and experience holidays, like Thanksgiving, the way my friends had it.  It always depressed me slightly knowing that I will never have the “Leave It To Beaver”-  “Waltons” – “Little House on the Prairie” – “Brady Bunch” experience of Thanksgiving – whatever that means!

Again, my family does things a little differently.  We always ate later than others, say 7:30pm. We didn’t have the TV on for football, but we may be singing karaoke.  My parents actually put up the Christmas tree already, frustrating every liturgists who constantly remind us that it’s not Christmas until December 25th!  Finally, left over turkey sandwiches weren’t eaten at my house.  But how about a left over turkey as a stir fry, with sauce made from cranberry gel, soy sauce, vinegar and olive oil?

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Sounds strange?  But it’s delicious and it works! I made it for the CBS Sunday Morning Show last year, and it’s been one of the more popular downloaded recipes!

I guess the theme of “strange” and “making it work” creeps up in my experience of Thanksgiving.  While my household doesn’t do the celebration in a Traditional Way, I have matured enough to simply be thankful for my family’s peculiar traditions – no matter how strange it may be.  Isn’t that what this holiday is all about? Being thankful?

img_0505I realize that many families struggle, and many may even wish they could trade in a few family members or in-laws for another. However, this holiday helps us see that life, while not perfect, is blessed by the food on the table and more importantly, by the people around the table.  While your Thanksgiving, or your family, or job, or life may not always be like the Norman Rockwell image, Grace Before Meals tries to help families make the best of it – make it work.  If we spend more time and energy worrying about our meal and not taking the same efforts to just enjoy each other’s company, then we are missing the point.  Remember, the food on the table is only the means to an end, which is to bring the family together in gratitude for each other, the gift of life, the prosperity, and even the grace to help us carry our burdens.  Like the first Thanksgiving was turned into an annual tradition, my recommendation is to transform every annual Holiday into a daily spiritual practice.  Say, a thanksgiving prayer every day.

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On behalf of the Grace Before Meals Family, Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

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