For the third year in a row I will be missing Thanksgiving at home. I’ll be in Israel. Part of me feels bad about it, but just a small part. Festive family meals at home that we spend together are so important for our traditions, for our family bonding time and for relaxation. As my kids are getting older, I ask myself, “Have we done enough?” To bond, that is. Hard to tell, but no one seems too broken up about my absence. A tough pill to swallow, but they are distracted because my husband is planning an enjoyable road trip adventure for the rest of the family.
Three years ago, my daughter spent her post high school year in Israel, and I used Thanksgiving week as a chance to visit. Last year it was a son there, and back I went. This year, I am bringing yet another son to check out suitable yeshivot. So the family will again be separated on Thanksgiving, for the third year in a row. I have my plans, and the rest have theirs. And I suppose my youngest is looking forward in a few years to the traditional “Go to Israel with Mommy Thanksgiving Trip.” I know I am.
Yet, I have already been asked to cook a turkey for them before I go, so I’m not really escaping that aspect of the holiday. I guess where food is involved I will still be a participant, and therefore I remain an integral part of Thanksgiving. And isn’t it really all about the food anyway? My son and I, of course, will be enjoying some falafel or hummus or anything other than turkey.
Whether you are preparing for Thanksgiving, going away or participating as an invited guest, enjoy your time with whomever you are with, give thanks and appreciation for what God has provided (and for the good food and good company). If you are asked to bring something to contribute to the meal, this rice dish makes a great side, or stuffing, and is totally on point for Thanksgiving. I can guarantee that you will be appreciated. Be open to some untraditional ways of celebrating, make your own traditions, and be prepared to go with the flow. Or go to Israel. Sometimes.
Wild Rice Salad With Chestnuts
(adapted from Food Network)
- 1 cup white basmati rice, cooked
- 1 cup wild rice, cooked
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2-3 stalks celery, diced
- ½ cup shelled pistachios (salted and roasted would be great)
- ½ cup craisins or dried cherries
- 7-8 oz. cooked chestnuts (they come ready to eat in a pouch), broken into pieces
- Lemon juice from half a lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley, optional
Combine the cooked rice together in a bowl. Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onion and celery 3-4 minutes until softened. Add to rice with the oil left in the pan. Add remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine. Enjoy!
By Rachel Berger