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Ellen Goodman Thanksgiving Essay

sElcidana Camacho
February 9, 2012
“The I and The We Inside Of Me”
    Traditions are part of the culture of a nation and its people’s identification. An important tradition in the United States is the celebration of Thanksgiving.   This event occurs on the last Thursday of November, and it is the day when people travel from different parts of the country leaving behind for one day the individual “I” to enjoy an invaluable “we”.   The police, the nurse, the teacher and the delinquent will stop their professional occupations to join Grandma in the kitchen to stuff a huge turkey and the rest of the meal. During the celebration, the family will tell (as every year) the same stories about the family; laughers, mockeries, craziness and caring are all part of the celebration passing this legacy to the next generation. It is not hard to accept the idea that in order to balance our lives we need to share our personality between individualism and family.
      According with Ellen Goodman’s essay “Thanksgiving”, individuals travel from different parts of the country to meet their family in order to celebrate this holiday and share the true love, caring, and security that family can offer.   She mentions that Americans love their individualism, but also respect the values of family.   However, they have to affront their inside battles among the “I” and “we”, the freedom and solitariness, and the individual and family. Even though, these words are very contradictory one depends on the other because they come together giving as a result an adult person.   Goodman asserts that the reason of this contradiction is that they were raised into a family to be individuals which make me review my own experience giving me the conclusion that I am an individual who has an I and a we inside of me.
    United States is known for the value of freedom its people have.   They love their individualism more than any other country and they will go against everything in order to defend...

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Real Life Adventures-Gary Wise & Lance Aldrich

"I'm hardly a Pollyanna about family life.  I know about the stress of the sandwich generation, trying to be all things to all bosses, parents, children, spouses.

I know that every family has troubles.  At some time or other, in some light or other, we all look dysfunctional.  But the fact is that most of us are functioning.  And loving."

-Ellen Goodman, "The Functional American Family",  The Boston Globe, November 24, 1994-



I have no business taking time off to write a Thanksgiving post--but right now I need a break from shopping, cooking, and scrubbing down a hand-me-down highchair--ick!  

OK, I cannot tell a lie--my husband handled the highchair clean-up duties--thank goodness!  And, he took care of the crib assembly--which now looks like it needs to be disassembled in light of massive of crib recalls. Oh well!

But my real reason for posting--I just love this cartoon & I want an excuse to use it.

Actually, I'm basically chilling this Thanksgiving--even though the gang is coming in from New York City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh.  The first guests arrive on Tuesday night.  Very late.  Midnight late.

Everyone is pitching in this year.  My husband did the bulk of the grocery shopping.  Poor guy had never experienced the Thanksgiving rush, and was clueless where to find "meatless" meatballs, Wheat-a-Bix, toasted pecan pieces, Lemonaise, currants, Larabars, red pepper spread, and more. 

His first call to me at work with "grocery location questions" was all jokes & laughter.  By the fourth call--this time I was away from my desk--he'd about had it. 

Here's the voicemail message he left me:  "I don't know where anything is.  There's no one to ask and if I don't hear back in 5 minutes, you're on your own with the shopping!"

In the end, he found almost everything--without my help.  On my way home from work, I picked up what he had missed.

Cleaning a Farm Fresh Turkey is a Great Reason to Eat Vegan

This year I got a pastured organic Kosher turkey from a nearby farm, about 7 miles from where I live.  Who knew what a project cleaning a "farm fresh" turkey would be?  

There's the rinsing, the pin feather-plucking--with my husband's tweezers--then ruining my knife trying to cut off the neck--the awkward seasoning maneuvers trying to turn a wet slippery 20 pound turkey.  Not my idea of fun.

Washing my hands about 20 times--every time I needed to open a drawer, a cabinet, sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary, turn on the faucet, get a pot holder, open the oven--there has to be an easier way!

And the clean-up:  the grease, the raw turkey juices, the sanitizing of the sink, the counters, the cutting board. Who knew that easy grease-free clean-up turns out to be a good reason to eat plant-based?

Glad it's done.  All cooked, quartered, and in the freezer.

Except for the Turkey--the Gracious Guests are All Cooking Vegan

  • Nephew Josh--a professional chef at La Via Vite--is bringing Red Pepper Bisque, and instead of cream he's using Tal Ronnen's cashew cream.  Click here for the cashew cream recipe.
  • My sister--a professional baker--is baking a Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake, out of the November, 2009 Gourmet Magazine.  Click here for the recipe.  She's also cooking up a vegan version of an Oatmeal Crust Apple Tarte Tatin.

  • My husband is making Tal Ronnen's Whipped Chipotle Sweet Potatoes and Martha Rose Shulman's fresh Cranberry Orange Relish.  Click here for the sweet potato recipe.  Click here for the cranberry recipe.

  • Niece Anna is making vegan Mashed Potatoes.
  • Niece Jamie is making a vegan vegetable tart.
  • My kids are making maple-roasted Brussels sprouts with shallots, traditional stuffing, and setting the table.  They just don't know it yet.
  • Is this going to be a low-fat healthy Thanksgiving?  Probably not.  But it's a special day!
  • As for me--I'm sure I'll find something to do--like playing with my grandbaby.


Ellen Goodman's Wisdom.  "The Functional American Family", The Boston Globe, November 24, 1994

As it always happens, last week I randomly came across this ever-so-wise fifteen-year-old Thanksgiving column written by Boston Globe writer, Ellen Goodman.  I'd give you the link to it, but none exists. 

For everyone who is busy getting ready for Thanksgiving company, take a minute to savor this memory of preparing for a family homecoming.   Listening to the news, you'd think we're all in dysfunctional families.  Ellen disagrees with that assessment:


"I am up to my elbows in Thanksgiving prep when the phone rings. There are macadamia nuts to the right of me, pecans to the left. Flour and eggs are wrestling in my mixing bowl.

 I reach for the phone, cradling it between my ear and my shoulder and hear the voice of a television producer. She wants to know whether I might be available to comment on the decline and fall of the American family. A story for the season.

As I stand there, covered in batter, she rattles off the horrific list of stories that make her case. The South Carolina mother who drowned her children. The 19 toddlers found in a squalid Chicago apartment without food or clothes. The Pittsburgh couple who took off for two weeks without warning, abandoning three kids to teen-age babysitters.

 I listen to this familiar litany with an equally familiar sense of gloom, and then I decline. I'm sorry, but this afternoon, I promised to visit my mother. Tomorrow, the cousins are coming from California. The next day is our wedding anniversary. Tuesday, the young adults we call "the kids" are arriving. And there is a crisis in the care of an aged aunt.

 I hang up the phone, wiping pastry dough from my hair and savoring the irony that flavored this exchange. The irony of being too busy with family to comment on its breakdown.

 Folding in the last ingredients of my much-too-elaborate recipe, the annual proof of Stewart's (as in Martha) Disease, I wonder how many of us live with this duality. We are convinced that the great amorphous, generic American family is falling apart. At the same time we are occupied with family maintenance.

All year, I have heard a steady drumbeat of despair about "family values." The overwhelming majority of Americans agree - 98 percent in one recent poll - that other people are not living up to their commitments. Yet in the same poll only 18 percent believe they're irresponsible themselves.

 Everywhere I go, when people talk about what they value, the topic is their family. The coin of the conversational exchange between friends and even strangers is the state of their parents, their children, their spouses.

In our daily lives, we work at and for family. At 4 o'clock in the morning, when we worry, it's about our family.

Today, we have higher demands on ourselves as the parents of growing children and longer demands as the children of aging parents. But every morsel of evidence of success - did you read that 8 out of 10 high school juniors and seniors list parents as the people they trust? - comes lost in a survey of family woes.

What do we make of this duality? I wish the producer had asked me that. Some of it comes perversely from the very struggle to do a good job. The harder most of us try, the angrier we are at those who don't and at the price society pays.

But we are also reeling from something akin to negative advertising about the American family. The horror stories that make the front page, because they are so extraordinary, have slowly begun to be accepted as ordinary.

The radio talk shows, the Limbaughs and Liddys, provide an endless stream of antigovernment messages. But the Jenny Joneses and Montel Williamses, and the Sally Jessy Raphaels  present an unbroken stream of pathological families.

On any day, we can channel surf across this electronic byway from murderous mothers to husband-stealing sisters to proud mothers of teen-ager strippers. If Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving family were on the air, grandpa would be a child molester, grandma a recovering drug abuser and the kids would bear sexually transmitted diseases. The abnormal is the norm.

I'm hardly a Pollyanna about family life. I know about the stress of the sandwich generation, trying to be all things to all bosses, parents, children, spouses.

I know that every family has troubles. At some time or other, in some light or other, we all look dysfunctional. But the fact is that most of us are functioning. And loving.

Somewhere along the way Americans have lost a sense of proportion. We've come to believe that I'm OK, but you're not, and that thing called The American Family is most certainly not.

This Thanksgiving Day has always been been more about family than food. It's the time when Americans travel through airports, highways, ZIP codes, in order to squeeze around the family table and discover how many adults can sit on a piano bench.

Standing in my kitchen, covered in homebaked proof of my holiday excess, I wonder if those of us who are connected by bonds of DNA, marriage, affection and above all else, commitment, can forget for a while that we're supposed to be falling apart."

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!



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