Dr. Norris J. Chumley Satisfied Life

This week, I will be writing about several aspects of the celebration of Thanksgiving. From recipes, to prayers, family and relative survival tips, and things to do: this week is all about counting our blessings together, and celebrating the abundance (yes, we “have it good” no matter how you slice it, despite the economic problems we are all dealing with).

First, think of what’s positive in your life.  Make a list of your blessings: #1-you’re still alive and God is with you, #2-you have handled crises before, and made it through, #3-there’s someone who loves you.  The list can go on and on.

If you are in the U.S., and planning a traditional Thanksgiving meal based on what the early settlers and farmers had, the centerpiece may well be turkey.  After many years of dry or tough meat, I finally found a way to make the turkey moist, delicious and golden brown without being too fattening.  Leftovers are no longer something to be endured by all; they’re sought after.  I’ll give you my turkey roasting strategies tomorrow, but today is all about preparation.

As for the turkey – start by shopping for a plain bird, not one that’s injected with butter, oils, chemicals or preservatives.  Just the inexpensive, ordinary turkey is fine.  If you like, you can go organic, free-range or organic grain-fed, but be prepared, those can be very expensive.

I buy a small turkey, or a young one, just the right size for all the family and guests with perhaps one meal of leftovers.  Going too large on the fowl makes for less-quality meat, I believe, and too much food, which may inspire overeating, or having to discard a lot of leftovers after several days.  A frozen turkey is great, as it is usually less costly, but you need to allow a couple of days to get it properly thawed.

You may want to shop today, to avoid crowds. Earlier in the morning, right when the grocery or supermarket opens is often the best time. Make a shopping list that is minimal.  This year, have a Thanksgiving feast that is within limits.  Cut back from previous years, you will help your budget and everyone’s waistline.  Consider a menu of one meat, two vegetables, and a carbohydrate.  Make a desert that is fruit-based, without large amounts of sugar or fat in it – like an unsweetened fruit pie, or baked apple or just the fruit itself.  Skip all the multiple breads, extra deserts, ice-cream, sugary yams, etc.  Make a low fat gravy this year.  Recipe tomorrow.

If you have a lot of family and guests coming, ask them each to bring something, and cook it together.  Coordinating menus via email works really well.  For those who don’t cook, they can volunteer for setting the table, building a fire in the fireplace or for clean-up after.

Finally, you may want to research a prayer or spiritual reading for the table, to inspire everyone to truly give thanks this Thanksgiving.  Or you could write a prayer of gratitude, because there really is a lot to be thankful for.

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