One of the things I love about cooking is the simplicity of it. With a few basic skills and a minimum of utensils, I can make something that feeds the body, gladdens the heart, and delights the soul. Chicken soup, grilled cheese, cinnamon toast, scrambled eggs, and flatbread with dipping oil require time and effort, but making them is much like walking a familiar path – there’s little to trip me up and a lot to enjoy.
The food on my Thanksgiving table is much the same. I’ve used the same recipes for years: Salted turkey from a 2010 Bon Appetit, mashed potatoes like my mother made, stuffing and candied yams a la my mother-in-law, cranberry sauce, and my husband’s pumpkin pie. The cheese tray before dinner varies from year to year, as do the vegetables. Add some sparkling cider and a nice wine and there’s a feast. The peeling, chopping, seasoning, and baking are familiar tasks made enjoyable through years of repetition. I think I enjoy the preparation almost as much as the meal.
I’d like to enjoy the work that goes into the other aspects of my life the same way I enjoy making dinner. But to do that, I’ll have to limit the number of things I’m working on and I’ll have to put in enough time and effort for it all to become a familiar exercise. Will I get bored with a simpler life? Will I miss the complexity that keeping more options brings? These are questions I am pondering.
But if Thanksgiving is any indication, simple isn’t boring: it’s just a good way to focus on the beauty and holiness found in every single moment.
May your Thanksgiving be blessed, happy, and simple.
Simple Gifts, Liz Story, artist ( The Carols of Christmas: A Windham Hill Collection, 1996)