It’s a tradition; a universal gesture of fellowship and goodwill that never fails to cause indigestion at the very least and a full-blown coronary at the worst. I’m referring, of course, to the practice of “flipping the bird”, and it’s something I offer my family and friends at least twice a year; sometimes more frequently.
But they don’t seem to mind…
This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving Day here in Canada, a holiday that centres around eating far more turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie than is healthy or even comfortable. (But some things are good for the body while others are good for the soul; and a giant feast with friends and family is definitely good for the soul.)
Turkey dinner is a tradition that always gives me a giggle, partly because of the connotations of “flipping the bird”. When I was growing up in a more innocent time, we always referred to the turkey as “the bird”: E.g. “I want to get the bird stuffed and into the oven before ten” or “Is it time to flip the bird yet?”
“Flipping the bird” only meant turning the turkey from its front (where it began roasting to conserve the juices in the white meat) to its back (to create that perfect golden-brown crispy skin during the last bit of cooking time). Imagine my amusement when I got old enough to realize that phrase could mean something else entirely.
And here’s another funny thing about a turkey-and-pumpkin-pie dinner: The aromas of both turkey and pumpkin pie are instantly recognizable by anyone who’s ever eaten the traditional meal… but the smells that make everyone’s mouths water aren’t even turkey or pumpkin.
So many times I’ve heard people remark, “Oh, that turkey smells so good!” just a short time after the bird (yes, I said it) goes into the oven. But you can’t even smell turkey until it’s been roasting for two or three hours. Before that, all you can smell is the sage and thyme and onions in the stuffing.
Same with pumpkin pie. The flavour and scent of the actual pumpkin are completely disguised by cinnamon and nutmeg and other yummies. After smelling the pie, a taste of plain old pumpkin would be terribly disappointing.
But despite the fact that the staples of the feast aren’t exactly as advertised, it’s still nice to have a holiday whose sole purpose is to express gratitude for our good fortune. For instance, I’m thankful for the fact that, unlike our neighbours in the United States, our Thanksgiving is early enough to allow us time to recover from the turkey stupor so we can enjoy it again at Christmas.
Seriously, though, I’m immensely grateful to live in a warm comfortable house with a loving husband in a safe neighbourhood in a safe country. To have the luxury of complaining that I’ve eaten too much. To have family and friends who love me despite my oddities. To be able to pursue a career I enjoy.
And I’m grateful to all of you, my faithful readers, who brighten my days with your witty comments and kind support. Thank you, everyone!
(And I promise not to flip you the bird… unless it’s a roasting turkey.) 😉
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