It was one of those Thanksgiving celebrations served up for kids by the hundreds in the school cafeteria. The blond-haired, blue-eyed sprite wearing the construction paper Pilgrim's hat was having none of it.
At least none of the stuffing.
"I don't like this," she announced loudly to no one in particular as she scrunched her face and pointed to the brown, breaded heap with her plastic fork.
I'd have to concur, I'm afraid, being that the stuffing was of the easy-make, box variety that's mixed up with hot water and cooked in a pan on the stove.
A good and sensible option, to be sure, when you're hosting a crowd.
But nothing's better than my own family recipe; a more time-consuming blend with celery, onion, apples, fine seasonings and leftover bread ends that were tossed in the freezer these past months to be taken out come Thanksgiving and roasted inside the turkey. (For the proper amount of time and temperature, I might add, for all you salmonella fearmongers.)
It's a Thanksgiving favorite in my house, where our brood has mostly blossomed along with their taste buds and now range in age from 15 to 27. No one's dressing up as Pilgrims or American Indians in my house these days, but they'll be heaping giant spoonfuls of stuffing on their plate. I always have to make an extra batch to spread on the leftover turkey sandwiches, along with a hearty smear of mayonnaise and cranberry sauce.
Considering her tender years, I'm fairly certain the little Pilgrim wouldn't enjoy my stuffing or the leftover turkey sandwiches.
She'd probably spit it all out, just like my own kids used to when they were sprites.
And that wouldn't bother me a bit.
On the bright side, I figure there's always the teachable moment of things like table etiquette, proper napkin usage and the kind act of grinning and bearing something you don't really like. And while the young Pilgrim is likely to develop a more sophisticated palate as my own children have, it looks like there's more left for the rest of us in the meantime.
A "survival of the fittest" scenario, you could say, or at least survival of those with aged taste buds.
It's an evolutionary edge for elders, one I remember my father savoring when I was young and he would come home from work to find the stinky cheese left untouched in the fridge. That was a favored early evening snack for the father of five kids who were known to wipe out a half-gallon of ice cream, a bag of chips or a canister of Marshmallow Fluff in record time.
I wasn't a fan of the stinky cheese but I used to love those Fluffernutters; a northeastern favorite made with peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff, typically on white bread — though I've heard health-conscious parents have taken to preparing it on wheat.
It was so popular with the young set that over the years, the Massachusetts Legislature has spent some good time mulling whether to make the Fluffernutter the state sandwich.
How patriotic of them.
Even so, it's all too sweet for me now.
Which isn't a bad thing.
After all, while the future of things like jobs and Social Security are still unknown, it's likely there will still be something left in the food chain for aging boomers like me to survive on; maybe a slab of sharp moldy cheese, a jar of black Kalamata olives, brussels sprouts or even an extra gob of seasonal stuffing.
And that, I gather, is something to be thankful for.
Michele Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 869-6251.