A Thankful Heart

Thanksgiving dinner (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Generally, at Thanksgiving, I’m too busy cooking to take any pictures. So I can’t show you the long table cobbled together from ramshackle surfaces and chairs that people brought themselves. Or the way the whole thing was wedged into the living room so tightly you could barely breathe. Nor can I show you the bird, with its deep brown skin, crackled in the oven or the way the moist white flesh slipped gently away beneath the knife.

I can only tell you about all the things we cooked – sweet potatoes roasted in bourbon-maple sauce, bright kale salad with parmesan, almonds, and dates, cranberry relish, sour cream mashed potatoes, a stuffing chock full of caramelized onions and kale, lemony grated carrots, green beans tossed in a dried cranberry and walnut vinaigrette, and pan gravy made from turkey drippings.

Preparing the turkey (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Roasted garlic for aioli (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

And I can only tell you about the things that other people brought – roasted beetroot, warm and spicy enchiladas slathered in cheese, tabbouleh and bulgur salad, olives and dips, onion focaccia and loaves of bread studded with cranberries and walnuts, tomato butter spread, spicy celery, pretzel and peanut butter mousse pie, pumpkin pie, and plenty of wine, certainly.

The kitchen, before it descended into chaos (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
The turkey, ready to roast (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Bourbon and butter for the sweet potatoes (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

But what no picture could have managed to capture is a snapshot of my heart that night – full. Grateful for co-workers who have become friends, friends who have become family, and family that will come and fix the couch the next day after it breaks under the weight of too many guests squashed onto its brittle frame.

The turkey (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

There’s so much sadness and anger in the world, too many things I can’t understand. So many bigoted and hateful opinions, so much violence.

When I read the news and feel my chest start to clench in helpless rage, I think of a story a yoga teacher told once after a class, long ago in a sweaty studio in St. Marks:

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town, and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation, and I could indeed have changed the world.”

Carving the turkey (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Plenty of wine (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I like to think that everyone we fed around our table took some of that love and passed it on. That in some small way, we changed the world.


  1. Bernie says:

    Lovely photos (as always), lovely thoughts, beautifully expressed (as always), Great-looking food (ditto). And what a menu! And a fine-looking group of young people — I counted 13, but not sure. I trust that you and they are all helping to make the world a better place — possibly one meal at a time. Your yoga teacher’s tale reminds me of Sun Tzu’s famous dictum: “Know the enemy, know yourself. One thousand battles, one thousand victories.” Yes, everything starts with knowledge of self.

    • lyz says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Bernie. If you’ll believe it, we were 28 people around the table! And just one chair away from making someone sit on the big lidded trash can.

  2. Jules Cohen says:

    Beautiful celebration and description of it.

  3. Catherine McKeon says:

    You speak of the frustrations, the disappointments, the doubts we all have of our selves. But somehow you end up coming out on top. You climb out of The mire and figure out how to make your life better – not because of these challenges, but in spite of them. Then, you celebrate life! Wonderful.

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