Last week my son brought home a little project; paint a turkey, using his fingers to trace out the feathers, each feather listing something you’re thankful for. Getting out the paint and cardboard paper, we set about completing the task of getting a 4 year old to sit still long enough to do as instructed.
By the end, I would just be thankful in the ability to get the paint stains off the floor beneath us.
Yet, in the process of explaining the meaning of “thankful”, I caught myself staring at him. He’s eyes untouched by the ideas of hate, they sparkle with life and trust, unbeknownst of what is happening around him. Bright brown with flecks of gold, much like that of his mama. My eyes however, lack the effervescence of a life that knows nothing of the immoral rules of ignorance that weeds its way around us, grabs hold and seemingly never let’s go.
I’m just thankful to be alive.
We went with the typical answer, thankful for mommy, daddy, nana, his hot wheels and such. Ending with a colorful turkey adorned with two horns on his head and a button for his nose. My son is quite imaginative.
This lesson would stay with me, begging the question of what am I thankful for, feel the most gratitude towards.
To be alive.
Every morning my grandmother would get up early to read her devotion. By the time I’d made my way- sluggishly- down the hall, she’d be in full breakfast mood. This was even more of a feverish activity around the holidays.
She’d turn to me completely unbothered by my teenage angst and almost sing..
“Ahh, she’s alive.. God is Good.. It’s a great day to be alive.. Praise the Lord and grab that plate for these eggs”
It was ridiculous, the amount of energy she put into those words each morning, intentionally and honestly.
She was truly happy to be alive.
As I grew older, more experienced, more exposed to things that my parents sheltered me from, I came into a new understanding of just how steadfast she had to have been to remain so faithful. After seeing so much and living in a time when the fate of an entire race was in jeopardy, where unjust treatment was justified as the law.
To remain in a place where there isn’t a constant doubt of humanity that makes you hesitant in every step you take.
There are many things I should be thankful for.. I’ve recited them daily over the past couple of weeks. The past couple of months. This entire year.
Like some dutiful affirmation.
I’m thankful for the saltless school counselor that told me there are career paths better suited for “people like me”- I get to prove him wrong EVERY SINGLE DAY and so will my children.
I’m thankful for those kids protesting their right to be treated equally, standing firm on the demands that have yet to have been met since they were requested over 40 years ago. Shining light on the racism that is a daily aspect of the life of a minority on a supposedly “diverse” college campus.
This is not a new issue..Stand Strong.
I’m thankful for the teachers striving for the advancement of our children. That get up every morning and deal with inadequate supplies and unfunded programs. With kids that sometimes don’t listen, kids that sometimes are hard to teach in areas that people want to gentrify but send their kids (and their money) to private schools, while the area children around them suffer. Shout out to you for continuing to prepare our young leaders, especially when they are stamped as thugs, hopeless and unteachable.. Stay Strong
I’m thankful for my family, my mom and her request for Patti Pie this Thanksgiving- and forwarding that video that made me laugh when I couldn’t feel anything but anger.
I’m thankful for y’all who tune in and read my sporadic post.
I’m thankful to be alive..
For each breathe that I take, when there are those from Paris to Beirut to Kenya to right here on US soil that will never hug their loved ones again. No one’s tragedy trumpets the other. The argument over facebook flag profiles is petty and obtuse. We live in a world that needs repair, we live in a time where events of the past are reminiscent of the headlines today. Think about how insane that is..
When looking in the face of blind hatred and terrorism, the dislike and retweets over Starbucks cups makes me want to break something and sign off social media forever.
I wish I could wax poetically about this stuffing recipe, the combination of euphoria the sweet potato gives you in each bite, hints of spice float from chorizo slices. But I just don’t have it in me. The holidays are important because we get to reconnect with family. It feels needed more now than ever. Here’s something to add to your holiday menu repertoire.
Continue to walk forward my good people. Grab someone’s hand and pull them up along with you.
Sweet Potato Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing.
Prep Time: 30mins Cook Time: 40-45 mins (30 mins for cornbread) Yields 6-8 servings
1 lb day old cornbread, broken into ½ inch pieces (recipe to follow)
1 ½ stick unsalted butter
1 cup of leeks, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 lb chorizo, cooked, diced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups chicken broth
2 eggs, beaten
Aunt Mabel’s Cornbread Recipe:
1 ½ cup yellow cornmeal (not self rising)
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Directions For Cornbread:
Heat oven to 350.
Grease a 8 in baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Stir in buttermilk, eggs and butter until just combined. Batter will be lumpy.
Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 30-35 mins.
Directions for the stuffing:
Preheat oven to 250. Place cornbread pieces onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes to dry out the cornbread. Stirring occasionally and rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool, then add then add to a large bowl. (Needs to be large enough to hold all the ingredients to mix)
Butter a 13×9 in baking dish and set aside
In a medium skillet, heat the butter, add the onions and leeks, stirring often until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the onion leek mixture to the bowl with the cornbread. Stir in chorizo, sweet potatoes, parsley flakes, 1 ½ cup of the chicken broth, black pepper and salt to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining 1 ½ of the chicken broth with the eggs. Gently fold this into the stuffing mixture to incorporate all the ingredients. Adding more salt and pepper if desired.
Preheat oven to 350
Pour into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 -45 minutes. Stuffing can be made a day ahead.