When Holiday Food Traditions and Life Choices Collide

Megan Mayhew Bergman, writing for Salon:

This is not Donna Reed’s dining room table. For one, it’s an Irish Laying Out Table passed down to us through my husband’s mother’s family. In other words: Where our stuffing sits, a dead body used to lie for viewing, a perfumed corpse surrounded by flowers, orifices plugged, arms straightened. But that’s not the only unusual thing about our Thanksgiving table. On Turkey Day, there is no turkey.

And I feel guilty about it. I sense my husband and father-in-law scanning the table, wondering which dish I’ve smuggled gray, lifeless faux meat into. Sure, they accept the onslaught of lentils and tempeh on weekdays, but Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving. There are expectations. Traditions to honor.

An exquisitely-crafted piece of writing that, like all good writing, doesn't seek to definitively give a "yes" or "no" conclusion, and instead, chooses to further think-out some important thoughts. And before you attempt to pass the piece off as pro-vegetarian propaganda, consider the fact that the author clearly admits to being an imperfect practitioner.

The power of tradition is fierce; I find it ludicrous (and borderline hypocritical) that, as an atheist, I celebrate Easter with my family. And I'm troubled by the fact that I will present such a conflicting message to my daughter. I'm not even 100% sure how I'm going to get our Christmas celebrations past her. But at a time when, even on Facebook, the trend is to consider what we are thankful for, I think Megan hits the nail on the head—the real gift is that, as a society, we are even able to consider such matters.