OK, I'm going to come right out and say it: I don't like turkey. It is possibly the most boring food on the planet, which is why you have to heap gravy and stuffing and cranberry sauce on top of it, just to make it palatable. Plus, it's nearly impossible to prepare: if the white meat is cooked properly, the dark meat is underdone and rubbery; if the dark meat is done as it should be, the white meat is overdone and dry.
What I dislike most about turkey, though, is that it reminds me of everything that's hard about the holiday season for those of us who live with depression. In fact, turkey is a lot like depression. Whether you like it or not, it will always be on your table for Thanksgiving. You just have to put up with it. Like depression, it comes at the beginning of the holiday season and it lingers for days and days in leftover dinners and turkey sandwiches and turkey croquettes (what exactly are turkey croquettes?) and turkey soup. And just when you think it's finally out of your kitchen (and your life), it reappears for Christmas, bigger and more overwhelming than ever.
And just as hard to hide.
Wait, that's ridiculous—no one ever tries to hide the turkey. It's the biggest thing on the table.
I guess that's where my metaphor breaks down. Depression may be the biggest thing on the table, too, but you have to hide it. You can't talk about how you really feel when everyone around you seems to be having such a great time. Which can make you feel even lonelier and more depressed.
Obviously, there's no easy solution. The holidays can be a tough time for many of us. There are some things we can do, however, to make the turkey take up less space on the table and in our lives.
My favorite memory of Thanksgiving is from a few years ago. We were all going around the table, doing the obligatory "what are you thankful for" thing, and I was feeling sad and a little envious and bitter about my life. Then we got to my sister-in-law, and she said, "I'm thankful for Lycra.
Of course, that got a laugh, especially because my sister-in-law is quite slim and has no need of Lycra whatsoever. But it also got me thinking about the little things. The first snowfall of the season. The birds clustering around the birdfeeder on a wintry December morning. The scent of a wood fire. My family recipe for cranberry sauce with pears and ginger. And, of course, Lycra.
Maybe the turkey we can't talk about will always be there, the biggest thing on the table. Maybe not. But maybe we can also remember the little things that give us joy—and be thankful for them.
Roberta Eve Tovey