Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why I am Thankful On Thanksgiving Redux

So this is a repost of sorts but I wanted to share this story again if some of you who are reading my blog have not seen it because, I think it is one that helps me to remain humbled by the goodness that is in my life. Despite of the challenges and the problems I have, I need to stand every now and then in that place of reflection and remember how lucky I am and how many are not as fortunate as me and that I have the responsibility to do something, no matter how small, about it. To be part of the solution. To give thanks by doing thankful things. 

Thanksgiving the Day of Thanks. It is a holiday that brings into one's minds eye soft and cozy images of times spent with special people at special places and in special circumstances with special foods. As children it can be a magical time, as a part of a holiday haze that serves as a precursor to Fall's ending and ushers in the Christmas season with all it's joy and pomp. It's a time when the construction paper laden bulletin boards in the classrooms would switch from Halloween's black hats and orange cats to multi colored fall leave cut outs laced with with pumpkins and turkeys and maybe a pilgrim's hat. It was a long weekend off from school and playing football in the backyard with the neighbors kids. It was a family and friend gathering time, and that time was precious. It was truly special. This is what I remember about Thanksgiving growing up.

As with so many parts of our national traditions the entertaining industry and media have created whole campaigns around the Thanksgiving Holiday The magazine industry has for years spewed out at us in images and articles ideas which would have us picture Thanksgiving as a Norman Rockwell painting come to life with all the sights and smells of a picture perfect world. Not that we all live in that Rockwellian Paradise, a parade of 1950's picture perfect families and houses decked to perfection with all the trappings of the season. Indeed some of us, maybe a very few, are blessed few live in a world like that. But most of us don't. We live in real families with real people who are not perfect and who, by the grace of God, somehow find their way through to loving and supporting one another and keeping it together. Therefore Thanksgiving can play various roles in our family's journey whether it be our birth family or chosen one. It can be a healing time and a time for reflecting on ourselves and our families, friends and our world and our place in it and in other peoples lives.

Too often holidays like Thanksgiving bring up sad or depressing memories or thoughts for people. That is a sad thing indeed when it should be a holiday when we focus on being thankful for what we have instead of focusing on what we don't have or feel deprived of. A story from my past reminds me of how grateful I should be and how I should count my blessings on Thanksgiving instead of wishing for something more.

When I was touring with the national tour of "Oliver!" the musical, I spent a Thanksgiving in California. It was a warm and wet day and we had two shows back to back. Now I tried to arrange for my cast mates and myself to have a nice "holiday" meal but when push came to shove we really did not have enough time to go out to a formal dinner, nor did everyone want to spend the money to do so.

Disheartened I decided to go with the flow. But when it was announced that we were going to Jack in the Box for dinner I about flipped out. I mean really it;s Thanksgiving!! Nonetheless I went with the flow, saddened further by missing my family and friends elsewhere and saddened by the circumstances. However, when we got to the Jack in the Box ( which is a fast food restaurant for those of you who don't know)  that is when I was really shocked. The restaurant was completely crowded and full. Full of families having dinner, parents and their kids. Full of people eating alone in silence, eating at the friggin Jack in the Box on Thanksgiving!!!

Suddenly I was ashamed of feeling badly about not having my special dinner on this special holiday. Indeed, all the years I was a child or even an adult I never once had anything like this as a holiday meal, let alone a time where my parents would choose to take me to something like that whether by choice or circumstance. Indeed I had only known a practically Norman Rockwell existence compared to this. And suddenly I was filled with gratitude. Graditude for my past, for my family, and for my friends from the show who I was with, who I loved and loved being with wherever we were. I was so grateful.

So this Thanksgiving when I am gathering around whatever table it may be with friends and loved ones I want to remember how blessed I am to have what I have, and try to resolve when the holiday is long past and all there is left is turkey sandwiches from the icebox and mountains of dishes, that blessings are all around and I should be grateful for all of them large and small and not be disheartened or discontent but be the change in the world around me for good giving back a little of what I have been given.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. And thanks for reading my blog all year. I would love to know who is out there reading and looking, so make comments on posts you like and give me feedback on what I can so to improve. Peace!

My Favorite Turkey Left Over Casserole

Turkey Swiss Fondue Casserole

3 to 4 cups of chopped leftover meat stripped from the Turkey ( Can also be made with cubed Ham)
1 pound Brussel sprouts halved
10 oz mushrooms sliced
1 large onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cups of whole milk
1/2 cup white wine
grated nutmeg
16 oz of swiss cheese grated ( gruyere is amazing but expensive)
4 oz of parmesan cheese grated
2 cups left over stuffing scattered on a sheet tray and dried out 2 hours outside the fridge 
1 cup ritz crackers crushed

In medium casserole add the turkey and all the veggies
In a pot melt butter add the onions and cook till just soft then add flour stirring about 3 to 4 mins till flour is cooked then add the garlic cook another minute.
Add the milk slowly and whisk till thickened then add wine to thin out till smooth 
Cook about 5 mins then add the swiss cheese till melted.
Add nice pinch of nutmeg
Pour over the Turkey Mixture
Mix the Stuffing, Parmesan, and the crackers together and top the dish
Bake in a a 350 degree oven for 45 mins
Take out let cool slightly and serve
Enjoy Ya'll and Happy Thanksgiving

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