The most phenomenal people I know never complain, which I think stems from a keen awareness on their part of all there is to be thankful for. We belong to a culture that perpetuates the desire to vent about (and even invent) problems, because deep down, I think that most of us feel guilty when we are experiencing true contentment. Contentment is a still and peaceful entity, one that doesn’t necessarily reconcile with the productivity-focused philosophy that drives our country. During our most elated moments, we might find ourselves thinking, “Why do I feel so relaxed and happy right now? Am I not working hard enough?” So many of us have loved ones that we can’t be completely forthcoming with for fear that they won’t support our successes or happiness. Instead, we fill our time quibbling about the inconsequentials of life, essentially trying to outshine each other’s hardships. “Your car broke down this weekend? Oh, that sucks. I had a pretty crummy weekend myself. I was sick all day yesterday.” These conversations seem innocuous enough, but in actuality, they take our attention away from everything that is going well in our lives. They reinforce the idea that we are undeserving of happiness if it is not accompanied by a certain element of suffering.
Chuck Palahniuk, in his typically crass (yet candid) fashion wrote, “That’s the best revenge: happiness. Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.” When did we let ourselves stoop low enough to begrudge others their happiness? Why do we compete in our suffering instead of pushing ourselves and others towards the highest quality of life? If someone gets to take four vacations a year, why not congratulate them and ask to see pictures instead of bemoaning about the lack of vacation time we have? If someone looks stunning, shouldn’t we dole out compliments instead of spiting her for her good fortune? If we cross paths with someone bitter, why do we shy away from telling him what a great day we are having, as if it is our responsibility to mimic his negative attitude? It seems too common to project resentment upon people when they haven’t faced or aren’t facing adversity, when instead, we should be counting our blessings and wishing for an adversity-free existence for everyone. At any given moment, there is too much to be thankful for. Can’t we try to center our conversations around this instead?
I hope my words don’t come across as scornful, particularly since I still falter at times to exemplify the above sentiments. I just think that there is something a little off about the majority of what we fill our minds and time with. This post serves as my pledge to stop commiserating with others about my “problems”, and instead treat every day like Thanksgiving. I will accomplish this by eating only the most delicious food on a daily basis (a given), while regularly expressing my gratitude for all I have. I’ll start now. Since I am still a bit woebegone about the fact that writing acrostics tapered off in elementary school, I will work what I am currently grateful for into an acrostic. Then I will leave you with some banging Thanksgiving recipes.
- Thick sarcasm. Couldn’t live without it.
- Hot cocoa. Or maybe I just like the marshmallows.
- A family and friends that accept my many quirks and whims.
- Nineties music. Ini Kamoze was SO right when he said, “Here comes the hotstepper.”
- Kind souls, like the instructor who gave me my license last week after I ran into a curb.
- Surprises, like when a burly stranger next to me in a store has Sade as his ringtone.
- Great books that let me travel to other places without stepping foot on a plane.
- Itty bitty animals. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fall for that lap giraffe prank.
- Veggies, which will be the focus of the T-giving recipes that are about to come your way.
- Isosceles triangles. They just make sense.
- Nerdropes. Have you tried them? If not, stop reading and go get one now. For real.
- Giggling until I cry. It’s my favorite.
Alright, now let’s talk turkey. Or not, since I don’t really like turkey. Let’s talk appetizers and side dishes instead, since we all know that these trump dry, boring turkey any day of the week. Each day leading up to Thanksgiving I am going to try to post one of my favorite T-giving recipes. They are a little unconventional, and can actually be used for any occasion, but believe me when I say that they never fail to be the favored dishes at gatherings.
The first recipe calls for asparagus. I have not made this dish for a while, so I don’t have pictures of it, but I can offer you a related anecdote. It corresponds to this shirt, which a guy in the mall was wearing during my most recent visit:
I found this shirt curious for a few reasons. First, did this even really need to be made into a shirt? (This is where everyone from rural Pennsylvania enthusiastically exclaims, “ABSOLUTELY!”). Second, what kind of statement is this making exactly? Why would the asparagus say “Smell ya later!” to the rest of the world when it is clear that this is what we should be saying to the asparagus? Third, it reminded me of the first time I tried the dish for which I am about to give you the recipe. I must have been about ten and my mom made it for an open house we were hosting. I didn’t know I liked asparagus until I proceeded to linger in the corner out of social awkwardness and singlehandedly devour the entire plate. When I heard my mom ask a friend, “How is the asparagus finished already?” a mere fifteen minutes into the party, I slunk up to my bedroom to avoid scrutiny for my piggishness. The next time I used the bathroom, I noticed a peculiar odor. Not knowing that it was unique to asparagus, I freaked out. I ran downstairs and pulled my mom aside. I am sure I said something uber eloquent, such as, “Mom, HELP! My pee smells really sour!!!” My mom, who has the scandalous mouth of a sailor and is nowhere near proper when it comes to conversational topics, for some reason became flushed in the cheeks, shushed me, and said, “You are to never talk about this again, Lindsay!” I was just an inquisitive kid looking for some answers, and to this day, I still don’t understand why she viewed my question as so taboo. All I know is that she certainly would NOT approve of that smell ya later shirt. Which is why I bought one and had it mailed to her house. JK, I didn’t.
Now that you have been made privy to my urological history, I suppose I can give you the recipe. Copy it down, as it’s a keeper.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Bombay Sauce
- 48 thin asparagus spears (2 1/2 – 3 pounds)
- 24 thin slices of prosciutto
- cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely julienned lemon zest
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons julienned fresh mint leaves (optional)
- Cut ends off of asparagus and trim to same length. In deep skillet, bring lightly salted water (enough to cover asparagus) to a boil. Add asparagus, and simmer until just tender (about three minutes). Remove asparagus from water and run under cold water. Pat dry and set aside. (Asparagus can be cooked a day ahead and kept in fridge if desired).
- Cut prosciutto slices in half. Wrap tightly around each asparagus spear. Arrange spears in spoke pattern on round, non-metallic tray. Sprinkle with lemon zest and pepper. Mix lemon juice and olive oil and drizzle over asparagus. Sprinkle with mint, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Bombay sauce (make this one day ahead of time for flavors to blend):
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons grated onion
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon horseradish
Combine all ingredients and chill. Serve in bowl in the middle of the asparagus dish for dipping. This sauce is also delicious when baked on fish.