It’s that time of the year again. The temperature and leaves are falling in unison. The semester has slowed to a stressful grind. Our long-awaited Thanksgiving break is finally at the doorstep. A needed week of rest to regenerate students in preparation for the struggle that is finals week.
Thanksgiving is upon us.
Thanksgiving functions as a pseudo-family reunion for many, which is why it’s my favorite holiday. You get to see your favorite cousins, have a laugh and watch the Detroit Lions attempt to win a football game. A true spectacle. The Lion’s last five Thanksgiving games could be used as an example of what not to do during a prime-time TV spot. Cowboys fans, you aren’t safe, either. America’s team has lost four of the five previous Thanksgiving outings. This consistently places them in the biggest loser of Thanksgiving race, spotlighted by the perennial winner, the guest bathroom.
Despite some truly disturbing roots, Thanksgiving spreads a genuinely beautiful message. Take a day out of 365 days to be grateful. Express gratitude for those around you and the blessings you enjoy, no matter how bountiful or meager. It’s an important day for us to celebrate and observe in order to stay grounded and in remembrance of the travesties the holiday is built upon.
That’s enough sermon, let’s talk about Thanksgiving’s biggest draw: the food.
Thanksgiving food is something that I cherish. Probably because many of the popular Thanksgiving dishes in the South are just straight-up soul food: mac and cheese, collard greens, cornbread, candied yams, etc.
The listed dishes are all unfairly labeled side dishes. A silly byproduct of English colloquialism, because anybody can tell you the side dishes are the true stars of Thanksgiving. Yes, turkey is essential to Thanksgiving dinner, but that’s because of tradition. Turkey is not the main character in the Thanksgiving cast. It can’t be. It goes against the principle lesson of Thanksgiving.
Over the decades and centuries, turkey ironically has assumed the spotlight on a holiday that preaches togetherness and fellowship. There is a high chance that turkey isn’t the best meat available at any given Thanksgiving dinner. Ham has become a dual sport athlete, truly headlining Christmas dinner and popping up at Thanksgiving celebrations nationwide. Barbecue is becoming a popular practice for the holiday, too. This means that turkey could be matched up against ribs, chicken, pork chops, brisket AND ham.
Those are only the meats that are arguably better than turkey. The side dishes are, once again, superior. They play a symbolic role in the holiday, too. Assigning different dishes to visitors makes them more invested as parts to the whole celebration, playing on the “in this together, here for each other” nature of the holiday.
The bird has a lot to prove.
The correct pie ranking goes: pecan pie, sweet potato pie, key lime pie, apple pie, chess pie then everything else. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream and so many more desserts are prepared for the holiday. It’s a disservice, though. By the time dessert rolls around, everybody is stuffed. You’ll be lucky to find those who can stomach more than a slice or two of pie.
What’s my perfect Thanksgiving plate? Dressing and macaroni could occupy a third of the plate real-estate alone. Honestly, a good macaroni dish and dressing pan carry so much weight on my Thanksgiving meal satisfaction index. That cannot be overstated. Ham will usually be included in the first-round plate-building draft.
Don’t get me wrong, ham can be underwhelming. Particularly ham that is cut too thick, too salty or is not of the honey-ham variety. Those three traits in a ham could drastically tank it in my rankings.
Rounding out the first plate is candied yams and collard greens and a dinner roll.
Proudly, my plate is not in compliance with the food triangle. Low vibrational plates only this Thanksgiving.
Justice Rose is the opinion editor. He is a sophomore majoring in journalism from Madison, Miss.