I didn't celebrate Thanksgiving as a young child in Austria and didn't know exactly what the holiday meant until my family moved back to the U.S. when I was 9.
In those early years, Thanksgiving was an afterthought. As my mother dished out the whopping 3 pounds of pasta she cooked for her brood of six, she mentioned "Oh, today's Thanksgiving."
What's that? we asked with full mouths.
"An American holiday."
And we dug again into the mountains of pasta blanketed with deep-red tomato sauce.
I ate helping after helping until the top button of my skirt needed to be undone. Until I had to take a nap before I could comfortably move again. This was also not unusual in a household that served one main meal each day, a light breakfast and dinner and hardly ever snacks.
|I couldn't find us eating pasta,|
but here's a holiday pic from that time.
Pasta was the food that fueled afternoon play. Pasta was what kept us waiting as lunchtime approached and belly's grumbled.
"A watched pot never boils."
I knew that my mother was right. But not watching in wait while your stomach screams is an impossible ask.
By the time the pasta reached al dente (and when I was the tester, I sometimes lied that it was there already) the mob of six circled the kitchen, sometimes fighting with each other. We couldn't help it.
When my mother placed the bowl on the table, there was no more will to wait. We held our forks upright ready to revolt.
"Marisa, you say the prayer," my mother said to the oldest. Marisa was the one who organized our play. She took care of us. She sometimes ruled on who was right and wrong. We would give her one breath. One sentence.
"Thank you for our family, our food and our friends."
"Amen," we all said and then pillaged the pasta.
I am better acquainted with idea satisfaction than Thanksgiving. The gratitude comes afterward. I am satisfied; the meal was good.