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On Thanksgiving, live with an attitude of gratitude

Let’s take Thanksgiving out of American TV and make it another fun reason to party on Nov 24!

brunch Updated: Oct 08, 2016 12:36 IST
That Thanksgiving celebratory meal has gone on to become a tradition and officially kicks off the holiday season in the United States
That Thanksgiving celebratory meal has gone on to become a tradition and officially kicks off the holiday season in the United States (Illustration by: Jayanto Banerjee)

From all those sitcoms we’ve sat through and Hollywood movies in which dysfunctional families gather over a humongous roast turkey, we know that Thanksgiving is a big deal in the US of A. In recent years, thanks to the influence of ’Merica on everything from the gizmos we dig to our comfort food, its festivals have crossed over, too. The Pilgrim Fathers may not mean that much to us, but, hey, who needs a reason for a holiday and a great meal, right?

The origins of Thanksgiving go back to 1621 when the religious refugees to America from England, aka the Pilgrims, invited the native Indians to share a meal produced from a bountiful harvest. It was the Indians who taught the Pilgrims how to grow squash, corn and beans – all alien to them at the time – and to catch fish. So just as well that they asked them to join them for dinner. That celebratory meal has gone on to become a tradition and now officially kicks off the holiday season in the US. Why the turkey is central to the celebrations is lost in the mists of time, but it’s the hero of the piece, so to speak. So much so that the lucky turkey who is pardoned by the POTUS every year enjoys his five minutes of fame. Thanksgiving is, of course, followed by Black Friday when all of America descends on the stores for a bout of shopping that’s a national frenzy.

* New Age Thanksgiving: Channel your inner super chef, pull on that apron and cook up a great meal for a bunch of friends. Okay, so a turkey is daunting. Settle for a roast chicken instead. Pumpkin pie doesn’t sound all that appealing? Make it a banoffee pie instead. Just cook, share and enjoy.

* Say thanks: An attitude of gratitude they call it. Psychologists and life coaches say remembering acts of kindness and generosity and thanking people for them can elevate your mood and help you grow. Write letters, make a phone call or go meet someone in person. And say the magic words: Thank you!

Movie marathon, anyone? If you’re planning to stuff yourself silly, then consider continuing to lounge in front of a screen watching some utterly enjoyable Thanksgiving-themed movies. Recommendations: The Object of My Affection, Home for the Holidays, Hannah and Her Sisters, What’s Cooking?

Fancy a feast?

Want to give a Thanksgiving gift? It’s all about food and abundance. So put together a hamper packed with delish foods and gourmet ingredients. Cheese, chocolate, wines, organic honey, spices, candied fruit… yummm.

How they serve their staff at the Husains

Theatre personalities Aamir Raza Husain and wife Virat, with daughter Sukaina and son Ali Abbas. (On Aamir: Kurta Pyjama with a black Khyberi shawl spun with pure gold thread; On Virat: Garara, kurta and dupatta with pure gold work done by craftsmen from Lucknow; On Sukaina: Garara, kurta and dupatta with pure gold work done by craftsmen from Lucknow; On Ali: Home-stitched shirt with linen trousers) (Reuben Singh)

Only in our family

In the Husain family, the Eid on the day after Muharram is special. “On that day, the family serves while the staff eats. At night, there is a feast for family and friends with traditional music (qawwali). Also, charity is a priority in all our celebrations,” says Aamir.

And this year...

“This Navratra, we’ll go to the Durga puja pandals of Kali Bari,” says Virat. “The main attractions, of course, are the food pandals that serve such a wide variety of Bengali cuisine,” adds Aamir.

Who’s gifting who what?

Aamir to Virat: Books

Virat to Sukaina: Clothes

Sukaina to Ali Abbas: “I’ll get him a Kindle since he loves reading.”

Ali Abbas to Aamir: “A feather quill as my father is fond of writing instruments.”

— Veenu Singh

From HT Brunch, October 8, 2016

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