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  • Dana Evan Kaplan


Thanksgiving is probably my favorite American holiday. It emphasizes the value of inclusivity in our society and how people of different backgrounds can learn to get along with each other: open hands, open arms, open hearts. One of the practices that I like to do when possible--it all depends on the environment and how receptive people might be to this--is to read one or more psalms that reflect appropriate sentiments, praise God for providing nourishment to us, and sometimes even echo the exact name of the holiday, thanksgiving.

As you know, Thanksgiving was originally celebrated to give thanks for the abundant harvest. It’s usually traced to a 1621 celebration in Plymouth. Reform songwriter Debbie Friedman has a line in one of her songs, “Happy Thanksgiving, hurray, hurray, hurray! Aren’t you glad you’re not a turkey on this Thanksgiving Day…” I love turkey and one of my great culinary regrets is not eating it more frequently.

One of my more interesting experiences hosting a Thanksgiving dinner was in Jamaica, where I had a variety of Jamaicans, including a Rasta. He started to quote from the Hebrew scriptures and, although I have a lot of difficulty remembering things by heart, I was able to show enough familiarity with the text that he was reciting that he broke out in a big grin of appreciation and recognition. It turns out that there is a Rasta congregation not far from my house and he promised to take me there on my next visit.

When I first moved to Mobile, one of my first purchases was a turkey holder. It’s very useful because it has a frame that allows the turkey to remain suspended above the fat that drips down as it cooks in the oven. I bought one or two turkeys in Sam’s Club, but shortly after Thanksgiving, they seem to disappear, and I haven’t been able to cook a turkey since. If anyone knows which supermarkets or meat companies sell turkeys all year-round, please let me know.

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