Last night we polished off the last of the turkey. A few sides are still hanging out in the fridge, but not the green bean casserole. It was gone the day after Thanksgiving.
So how did green bean casserole get to be a traditional Thanksgiving fare? I don’t think the Pilgrims and Indians featured it at their feast. Is it a huge marketing ploy by the makers of French’s Onion rings? And what does a name like French have to do with this all-American holiday?
I don’t really like green bean casserole. I tried to swap it out with a different vegetable dish. After all, I’m the menu planner, shopper, and cook at our house. I have rights, too. During the month of November I noticed ads for new recipes to make the perfect holiday meal. I’m usually pretty adventurous about trying new recipes, but the thought of springing something on my “critics” seemed risky. Still, I discussed the possibility of change with my son.
“Why is green bean casserole on the chopping block?” he cried. “Can’t you get rid of something else?”
I relented. After all, the thought of disappointing my family on Thanksgiving Day over ruled my own needs. Still, there was the essential matter of another ingredient in this dish, the mushroom soup.
My daughter hates mushrooms. For the past two Thanksgivings I modified the casserole by making it with cream of chicken soup, cheese, water chestnuts, and of course the onion rings. I did it to make her happy. Everybody had a spoonful to be polite, but as a leftover, it simply never disappeared. I decided to call my daughter.
“Honey, the green bean casserole with mushroom soup is in high demand over here. We need to make some trade-offs this year. Can I prepare sweet potato casserole with mini marshmallows for you?”
“Sure Mom,” she responded. “How about throwing in one of your cheese balls as an appetizer?”
“OK, no problem. See you soon.” After I hung up the phone I felt like I had just brokered a peace agreement between two countries.
My menu was taking shape. Although I had purchased the turkey the week before, I still had to buy the sides. I made my list. At the top I wrote in big letters:
REMEMBER TO MAKE THINGS EASY ON YOURSELF!
After cooking thirty-five Thanksgiving meals, I know how stressful this holiday can be. I suffer from my own past successes. Achievers always feel the need to at least live up to their own expectations. Still, I am starting to tire of myself.
Before I walked out the door to Publix, my brother called.
“Anything I can do to help with the meal this year?” he asked.
“How about bringing some pre-made mashed potatoes?” I responded. “And a can of cranberry sauce.”
“You got it,” he replied.
I smiled to myself. That’s the change. I will not stand at the sink peeling potatoes this year. I am thankful for microwaves.
As we gathered around our Thanksgiving table, we gave thanks to God for our many blessings, including the green bean casserole.