Is this the cold and flu season already? I don’t mean to jump the gun by galloping over hill and through dell shouting, “the flu is coming, the flu is coming!” like Paul Revere possessed, but a couple of friends seem to be coming down with something.
Just in case, New Mexico’s health department has a list of suggestions you are probably already well-versed in. It’s a pretty long list of dos and do-nots. So just be careful around that sneezing person or, if possible, find some cave in the Magdalenas and see if the bear in there will share his hibernation space with you. ‘Course you could always just go get vaxed.
As for hibernating, this is the season for layering on some adipose. You know, from nibbling on various holiday comestibles people bring to work between now and New Year’s Eve.
You think, oh, I’ll just have this one little lemon bar. They’re so small, maybe I’ll have a couple more. Before you know it, the lemon bars are gone, and, whoops, so is the waistline.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. It seems the older I get the more I love the taste of food, both fast and slow, both natural and processed. One of my favorite oldies from the 1970s is a song called “Junk Food Junkie.” It’s about this guy who puts on a big show of eating all-natural and healthy foods during the day, but at night he pulls his stash of Twinkies and Fritos and Moon Pies and Ding Dongs out from under his bed and finds bliss.
When it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing to compare to a big Thanksgiving feast.
I find myself getting sentimental about all the Thanksgivings in my life; from the one when I was single and eating a Hungry Man turkey TV dinner in a little apartment, or the turkey with oyster stuffing with friends at Muleshoe Ranch, or the Thanksgiving on Guam with not turkey but Filipino pancit. Not unlike Dickens, sometimes I feel like I’ve been visited by the Ghost of Thanksgiving Past.
Anyhow, it’s not what you eat, but with whom you are eating; whether it’s at home, with friends at the DAV feast, or just with memories of loved ones now gone.
Growing up, Thanksgiving dinner was just short of chaos at our house. It was myself and my five siblings lined up on either side of an eight-foot-long dining table that my older brother custom-made in Industrial Arts class at the high school. Our parents sat on the far ends. Or rather, our dad on one end and my mother never having time to have a seat on the other end.
In elementary school, Thanksgiving meant we dressed up in those big-collar pilgrim costumes and construction paper hats for a school pageant, or drew turkeys around our fingers in crayon.
We all learned about the pilgrims and Plymouth Rock, and how the local Wampanoag natives all sat down in 1621 for the first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts.
But I was wondering, wasn’t it in 1598 that Spanish newcomers had a meal together with the locals? I’m thinking about the first meal Don Juan Oñate and his “pilgrims” had in Pilabo Pueblo, what’s now Socorro. When Oñate and his caravan arrived here after their journey up Jornado del Muerto they were met by the Piro pueblo people who brought out food and water. That could qualify for a Thanksgiving of sorts, couldn’t it?
But wait, a few weeks before that – down south of Las Cruces – was a Thanksgiving meal of sorts that, in the words of Arlo Guthrie, couldn’t be beat. It was with the Mansos Indians.
History tells us after crossing the big river, somewhere around the Mesilla area, Oñate and his men presented the Mansos with clothing. In return, the Mansos gave them freshly caught fish from the Rio Grande. In an act of giving thanks, Oñate arranged for a feast to be held in honor of the company’s miraculous survival and asked the Mansos to be their guests.
It is said the banquet included fish, duck and geese, as well as food the Oñate party brought with them, and this act of “thanksgiving” may have been the very first to be celebrated on the continent.
Anyway, here we are 424 years later, and Thanksgiving is a national holiday. They say the day after turkey day is Black Friday, but I call it “Friday-after-Thanksgiving-itis.” A disease second only to spring fever in its effects. I mean, it’s the day some people get off, but you have to work and get all antsy and nothing gets done anyway.
And no matter what line you’re in, the other line moves faster.