For a naturalized American like my mother Marucci, Thanksgiving’s also a celebration of democracy. That means political “discussions” (spiced with cordial argument and a pinch of passion) are always on this dining room table. The decorations (a set of dishes, napkins and tablecloth used once a year) may distract visitors momentarily.
The first Thanksgiving joined Pilgrims with Native Americans, so special friends and family are always welcome to spend Thanksgiving at Marucci’s table in New England. The more distant and different the point of view the better: Marucci has entertained guests from Europe, South America, and Asia here. Bring sneakers for the next day, though. Not for Black Friday shopping, however, guests are taken to the Freedom Trail.
“Would you please say grace?” I am not sure when Marucci first gave me the honor, but it’s significant. In a traditional “Leave it to Beaver” American household usually the highest ranking male gets that pleasure. Of course, our family was always more of an “I Love Lucy” model. Was there any doubt I would become a feminist? After Hillary Clinton lost the presidency in 2016, I took to wearing a “TimesUp” pin on my jacket’s lapel (Women’s equality with men in Pay, Protection, and Power). That pin will come off after the first women president gets elected in 2024: Kamala v. Ivanka?
My Thanksgiving grace is less of a prayer and more of toast. I try to combine appreciation, family humor, and conclude with an inevitable call-to-action as I lift that glass of pink Prosecco:
“Let’s remember Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and thank her for advancing our `right to choose.’ Even though some of us think she could’ve protected us better by retiring from the Supreme Court when Obama had control of the Senate [Marucci injects a “yaah” here]. Join me in running a 10K to honor Notorious RBG this weekend!”
In addition to hosting Thanksgiving, Marucci used to cook everything except dessert. Her table included countless vegetable dishes: corn, squash, eggplant, etc. One Thanksgiving—where she also made asparagus soup—we counted 27 vegetables dishes. Now we limit her contributions as hostess to table setting, turkey, stuffing (despite many experiments, we agree “Pepperidge Farm Sage” “Be Best”, a slight jab at Melania), mashed potatoes, and gravy. Marucci also makes three throw-back items: sauerkraut (Austria-Hungary, remembering her mom), bilingual Brussel Sprouts (Croatia) with “speck” (Italy), and gelatin mold with walnuts (American ‘60s).
“How about Ethopian genocide?” With Marucci an escapee from the Communist Yugoslavia and Dad a former WWII vet, you’d better come ready to discuss global democracy issues. Oh, did I mention that Marucci’s a news junkie? If you haven’t read all the major daily papers since Halloween, be prepared to listen and learn.
This year Marucci still planned to host Thanksgiving. We’d use the dining room table to serve ourselves using masks, but we would eat in separate rooms. My brother Frankie, his wife Stacey, and Mr. Mack (all teachers and union reps/members) confirmed attendance. But, after review of Dr. Fauci’s input, she “cancelled” the idea. But we will not cancel Thanksgiving.
I’ve scheduled a Thanksgiving GoogleMeet for 1pm EST. We’ll visually share our food. Former “special” guests will include my in-laws in Brussels, and they will want to know if civil war’s coming to America. Marucci’s grandchildren will attend: Alex in SF monitors social media as part of Google’s Global Election Integrity Group; Roxane participates in Black Lives Matter protests on Chicago’s dangerous streets (with masks providing scant protection to batons and freezing cold); Devon and John in Orlando may advise on returning Florida back to the fold. Yes, Marucci’s American Thanksgiving of political discussions will still happen.
You didn’t think I was going to miss giving my annual toast did you?
Excerpted from the author’s upcoming book: “Marucci’s Memoirs: as dramatized by Aurora.”