I learned something this week:
If you really want to know somebody’s true feelings about something, ask them if they like cranberry sauce.
My husband and I have had plenty of disagreements over the last 10 years of our marriage. The usual stuff like money, politics, how soon is too early in the evening to turn on one’s headlights when they’re driving – but nothing quite so divisive as the issue of cranberry sauce.
There isn’t much in the culinary world that Shey and I disagree on. Neither one of us is wasting away. We like to cook and we like to eat. We share a hatred of sweet potatoes, bleu cheese, and the idea of putting capers in anything. So when we run into a difference of opinion on something food-related, it always kind of throws me. Like I’m seeing him for the very first time.
This week, I was prepping my dish for our Thanksgiving lunch event at my office. I made dressing. And I bought two cans of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce to serve with it. Because I’m a damn American, and can-shaped cranberry sauce is tradition, and you don’t mess with tradition when it’s right and good and amazing.
When I was a kid, I didn’t eat dressing. I ONLY ate the cranberry sauce. And it needed to be chilled – not room temperature. And it was my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. It was like having dessert first. It was a once a year blob of tangy sweetness that made me feel as though all was right with the world. I can recall, though not vividly, a Thanksgiving or two where there was no cranberry sauce. I’m pretty sure I repressed those memories, but I seem to have fleeting glimpses of an unhappy child who was missing something in her life. And that something was cranberry sauce. It’s a good thing I’m in therapy now.
It’s not just that it’s amazing mixed in with cornbread dressing; it’s the opening of the can, seeing the shiny, deep purple hue, taking a butter knife and scraping around it so it will slide out of the can in one perfectly cylindrical mass to be sliced and placed in a lovely glass dish so that you can behold it in all its glory.
I forget, every year, my husband’s repulsion over cranberry sauce and it’s not until I buy it that I remember how much he makes fun of me for loving it so.
Just for fun, I polled my Facebook friends about the issue. They were mostly kinda snobby and talked about how they only liked “homemade” cranberry sauce. I was a little taken aback. I mean, I thought I knew these people. Thankfully, I finally had some people speak up and stand with me on this time honored holiday tradition. It’s good to know these things about one’s friends.
It’s amusing to me how passionate people are about it. I mean, if somebody doesn’t like it, they usually REALLY loathe it. And if they DO like it, they’re like me and it’s a must have for their Thanksgiving meal.
I’m thinking of doing these polls on a weekly basis on various nonsense because (a) the holidays stress me out and (b) these issues should be discussed.
But I just wanted to say, that whether you love it or hate it, I still love you. And I’ll be more than happy to take your helping.
The last several months have taken many a toll on families and friendships because of polarizing debates about politics. And politics are important. The issues are important. Please don’t think I’m minimalizing them in any way. But I think we all need to take a breath. We need to, even if it’s just for a day, put our politics away and simply focus on the things that we have to be thankful for – because there are more than we take the time to remember. Things like family, and friends, and faith, and love, and the option to love cranberry sauce or hate it.
So if you’re afraid there might be a political fallout at your Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, just get people to discuss cranberry sauce. It’s just as divisive but a lot less serious and you might walk away with your relationships still in tact.