Holiday Digest: Thanksgiving Story

By Amy Schwarzstein-Capron

By Amy Schwarzstein-Capron

The number three is my favorite number. It’s my magic number in numerology, and I am the youngest of three, and I have three children of my own. “Third time’s a charm” is a saying when attempting to succeed at something. Some people believe major events take place in a succession of threes. In storytelling, it’s referred to as “the power of three” or “the rule of three.”

Often, there are three tests, three wishes or three gifts. According to Greek philosophers, the number three was considered the perfect number, symbolic of harmony, wisdom and understanding. I see three as 1 + 2 = 3 like a family. Three for me means family, and so does Thanksgiving.

It’s the time of year in the United States and for Americans abroad when a meal for a non-religious holiday unites loved ones together. It is about being grateful and sharing in love and abundance with family and sometimes friends. Everyone can contribute somehow, either by cooking a favorite dish or just putting on a smile. Unlike other holidays, no gifts are expected. Sometimes, turkey and ham are not the big draw either.

In my family there are rather creative vegetarian dishes or recipes some would consider unusual for the season. Favorites include mushroom, squash and tofu-cheese scramble or fusion-style stir-fried vegetables and pumpkin bread. Ultimately, harvest colors and themes are respected at our brunch buffet served outside, while eclectic musical choices are blasted at our Village Laguna childhood home.

“Dance party!” the younger generation yells while toasting with mimosas.

On the coast, we have so much to be grateful for. The ocean has its own magical way of observing Thanksgiving in Laguna Beach. The swells pick up and obligatory paddle-outs at either Thalia or Brooks Beach are mandatory for the surfers in our family. Warm Santa Ana winds race toward the water, ripping through the canyons and the tall eucalyptus and palm trees in our perfectly well-landscaped residential neighborhood.

The wind makes everyone feel a little crazy due to the notorious “devil winds” in reference to “the devil made me do it.” But more crazy is not what we need at our Thanksgiving table, where emotions and moods are already at their peak. Like fire season, when we are together, the slightest spark will ignite a raging blaze. We are all strong, intelligent, yet high-strung women, and we three sisters are now the matriarchs and must keep the peace; our parents no longer capable of being the glue.

It’s up to us to behave and stop arguing about trivial things, who figuratively sits at the head of the table and whether or not glassware is suitable to be used poolside. We carry on the traditions our parents taught us, and we pass them on to our children and grandchildren. When I see the food displayed on our mother’s linen tablecloths or grandmother’s “friendly village” fairytale-themed bone china dishes or eat something reminiscent of my childhood Thanksgiving meals, such as extra deep dish apple pie, I get a warm mushy feeling in my heart.

Although honestly, what would a Thanksgiving be in my family if there were no drama, no burnt bird, no inedible pumpkin pie or most of all, a full-blown, all-out screaming match that no amount of flame retardant could extinguish before the entire atmosphere goes up in smoke. Yet fortunately at the end of the day, we always only remember the good parts. Like burnt or tasteless morsels of food, we just scrape or toss away the bad parts and choose to savor and love the good.

We three sisters have our work cut out for us this Thanksgiving. I hope harmony wisdom, and understanding will reign, and like all stories, there is a beginning, middle and end. I want to believe we are The Three Good Fairies, and we are just at the beginning.

Amy Schwarzstein-Capron is a Lagunatic who spends her free time writing, reading, cooking and lawn bowling while enjoying her family and friends.


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