Friday, November 23, 2012

Extended Feasting: Thanksgiving 2012

The problem with Thanksgiving is that there is so very much of it. Once the meal is prepared there is what the French call an embarras de richesses:  too many options.

With Bow, there is also the problem that he expects lunch to be served to him at exactly twelve noon. But it very seldom happens -- no matter how early we start -- that the turkey is ready at exactly twelve noon. Two o'clock is more like it. But Bow can be very belligerent if his expectations are not met, and some of the rest of us also grow a little cranky unless we eat something, so part of our Thanksgiving tradition is to have a light snack before the big meal.

In past years, when I was responsible for the snack, I offered decorated boiled eggs. But this year, my mother brought cranberry nut bars that she'd baked at home, before her trip to Missouri.

We all had some, and they were delicious!

But in Bow's case, I served the cranberry nut bars as part of a substantial snack, because he really does expect to have lunch at noon.

I served the plate of cranberry nut bars with a fork, because I wasn't sure whether one would be needed. But when Bow got his serving, he held the fork in one hand and the cranberry bars in the other. My mother explained to Sword that the way Bow was doing it was right, because if it's a bar, you are supposed to treat it like finger food. In this video, while Bow eats, you can hear my mother saying this.

When the turkey and stuffing were ready, I first took pictures of them in the kitchen.

My mother was the chief cook, and she prepared the turkey, the two kinds of stuffing and the cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes, and Sword baked the pumpkin pie. Everything looked nice in the dining area when it was first taken out of the oven.

But then we needed to transport everything to the pens.

When Bow saw the feast shaping up in the pens, he gave way to his instincts with great cries of joy. These cries are involuntary, and their natural effect is to alert others in the social group to the fact that food has been spotted. Even if a chimpanzee very selfishly wishes to keep an entire feast to himself, his nature betrays him, he cannot keep his joy a secret and he ends up having to share.

The first course of the feast for Bow was a turkey wing.

The second course he requested was cranberry sauce. He calls it "red".

Bow's table manners seem to grow worse with satiety, for he is less sloppy and more careful when he is hungry. The next course he asked for was stuffing. But he was not really hungry, anymore. He sampled some, sniffing suspiciously, and then he handed me the spoon. At first, I thought he wanted me to feed him. But then it turned out that he wanted me to try it.

He never finished the stuffing. And when five o'clock rolled around -- our usual supper time -- he didn't want me to prepare a meal. Instead, he wanted to go to sleep early. I put him to bed at 6:00 o'clock and that was our Thanksgiving Day.

It is good to have a feast in the company of family members when the food is so abundant we have more than enough, but Bow and I are also grateful for all the other days of the year, when we never get too full. Food is best enjoyed in smaller doses.


  1. Aya, what a joy to get to read this and watch the videos. Too sweet. I see Thanksgiving dinner effects us all in the same way - a good nap is always in order and any more food is totally unnecessary. Thanks so much for this wonderful post.

    1. Thanks, Frieda. Yes, it pretty much affects all of us the same. And, of course, we have leftovers enough for a week!

  2. I wish I had taken a picture of the turkey my mom made, but I was excited to read your blog because I see you posted some pictures of yours. I am glad everyone enjoyed the meal, including Bow.

    1. Julia, I hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving, too. It is always nice to get together with family and have good food and fellowship. My mom has left now, and we all miss her, especially Bow.