Thanksgiving is a holiday immersed in traditions. Upon hearing the word, autumn-hued memories of feasts and family begin to fill one’s mind: the familiar aromas of favourite Thanksgiving meals; the cozy embrace of jazz on the radio warding off the aging year with its threats of winter; the company, the friends, and the relatives we congregate with to give thanks in each of our own special ways for another year’s harvest of achievements and realized aspirations. These are the conventions, generally speaking, that come to mind when the leaves reveal their shades of red and orange. For those faithful to a particular fall-supper line-up or holiday ritual, Thanksgiving traditions help warm the brisk evenings with a blanket of nostalgia. However, excursions into the untraditional, whatever that may be from person to person, can prove to shake up the grey-skied monotony of the season. In my family’s experience, a combination old with new customs has made each Thanksgiving unique in their own way while still maintaining the comfortable armchair of tradition.
Enter “Frakenturkey”: my family’s Promethean process of cobbling together a hybrid-Thanksgiving with a body of the familiar and appendages of the alternative. Despite its roots in mad-scientist grandeur, Frankenturkey is really a modest tampering of Thanksgiving tradition with no other purpose than to break up years of turkey consumption. Chinese take-out, Indian cuisine, and sushi with a filling of mashed sweet potato (our conventional still finds a way) have all adorned the table with nary a bird in sight or smell. Altering the DNA of our Thanksgiving meals each year has elevated the status of the harvest holiday from shoulder-shrugging routine to genuinely exciting. Frakenturkey has become a motivation to try new restaurants and expand the cultural range of our palettes in a way that our typical turkey Thanksgiving meals do not provide. The outcome has revealed to us that one can be as thankful over a dish of pad thai noodles as one can be over a gravy-submerged drumstick.
But one cannot deny the warmth of traditions! Regardless of the food we down, our family takes in a viewing of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” each year without fail. The autumnal soundtrack and memorized storyline sparks a childhood reminiscence that no humdrum meal could match. Even Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang give Frankenturkey a try with their gourmet spread of pretzels, popcorn, buttered toast, jelly beans, and sundaes served on a ping-pong table with mismatching chairs. The new can contribute to a more exciting Thanksgiving, and the familiar helps keep the holiday at home.
Frankenturkey is merely intended to heighten your Thanksgiving experience. The ideal recipe for Thanksgiving lies in how you wish to celebrate, whether that be a supper of either familiar or untried food, of either a beloved T.V. special or an untouched Netflix show, or your preferred checklist of traditions. But, for the times when a departure from your norm seems appropriate, the Frakenturkey awaits with its blend of the nostalgic and the novel.