Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Minnesota-less Thanksgiving

As I’ve mentioned before, this Thanksgiving is an unusual one for my family. Since I was 18, we have spent Thanksgiving with my mom’s brother’s family in St. Paul, Minnesota. Growing up in California, I didn’t have childhood memories of big holidays with my extended family, so it was really special to me to spend Thanksgiving with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. As it’s Thanksgiving today, I’m missing them, and our yearly traditions.

One of the things I love the most about Thanksgivings in Minnesota is spending time with my Aunt Susan and cousin Shelby. Susan is a great cook, and an amazing hostess. Every year she leaves a basket of treats in our room; chocolates, eye masks, inspirational books, and fun magazines, like you’re staying in a fancy hotel. She is incredibly organized and has a pages long list for grocery shopping and cooking schedules. She’s my Thanksgiving role model this year, as I prepare my first grown-up Thanksgiving dinner.

Shelby is my aunt and uncle’s oldest, and I have always felt a special connection to her. She reminds me so much of myself at her age; she’s silly, enthusiastic, and full of energy. Perhaps we get along so well because I am so in touch with my inner 16 year old. We have lengthy discussions about the merits of the latest Harry Potter books and movies. She was the first person to say the word “Twilight” to me. And she knew all about Darren Criss long before he started capturing Kurt’s (and my) heart on Glee. So, in honor of Shelby, and since we aren’t together this Thanksgiving, I decided to write a Glee-themed Thanksgiving post. 

Glee has surprisingly numerous connections to veganism. One of the shows biggest stars, Lea Michele, has spoken continually about the benefits of a vegan diet. In an interview with Women’s Health magazine, Lea is described, “talking passionately about her commitment to a primarily vegan diet. ‘My idea of heaven used to be relaxing at home with a cheese plate and champagne,’ she says. Then she read the New York Times best-selling diet book Skinny Bitch ‘and it slapped me in the face.’ An animal lover who has ‘always had a problem eating meat,’ Lea was especially shaken by the information on farming practices and decided to give up dairy too.” Lea credits her vegan diet with giving her the energy to get through her grueling work days on Glee where she sings, dances, and films until very early in the morning.

Lea’s vegan diet has translated to her character, Rachel Berry, who is now a vegan on the show. Rachel’s veganism has been highlighted multiple times on the show, both this season and last. A few episodes ago, Rachel’s boyfriend Finn mentions that the local restaurant Breadstix serves vegan meatballs, although “they’re not very good.” If only they had my recipe for eggplant meatballs! Just as the gay community has celebrated Glee’s portrayal of a young gay man in the character of Kurt, vegans should celebrate Rachel’s depiction as a healthy, energetic vegan.

Although today is not officially my Thanksgiving (we’re eating Chinese takeout for dinner), I hope all of you are having a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with your loved ones. I am getting ready for my vegan Thanksgiving extravaganza on Saturday, and looking forward to spending next year in Minnesota with Susan and Shelby, cooking to the Glee soundtrack!

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