I don't know why it is that setting your teeth into a well-browned hunk of hog makes you feel good, but it works for me. For Thanksgiving and Christmas I want meat, and I don't mean a measley, puny, stunted portion, either. I want big, maddeningly fragrant mounds of steer, hog or bird, or maybe all three, drenched with gravy.
Holiday meats should be baked until all you have to do is gently nudge some critical joint, and the whole thing sweetly falls apart into neat little sheaves. This meat is not burned, it is charmed, and you can eat right through its coral bones.
I wonder what spiritual eunuch first banned "cooking odors" from the home? I want to smell that heavy hunters-and-gatherers food baking. Morning of the banquet day you put the standing rib roast or the big boss bird in the oven. If it's a turkey, you might dip a length of cheesecloth into a pound of melted butter and snugly wrap up that tom. He's now your big gilded turkey baby. In the next hour, ragingly delicious smells will expand in golden waves from the kitchen.
Then the best of times comes. You sit down with those you love to eat the food you love. A glass or two of crystal white wine or potent red goes well with this--wines that are the soul of grape and sun-drenched vineyards, so that they seem to kiss you back when you smack them.
At the end, there are berry pies nestled in buttery crusts. In our family, there's also a hundred-year tradition of serving candied nuts in the same gorgeous china bowl. I'm sure you know there are saints' bones that are handled with less reverence than we lavish on that bowl. Then everyone alternates sipping his or her dark, fine coffee and nibbling the brown-sugar-crusted nuts of the field. We look around the table and see these faces we love, and every single one of us (and we are very spiritually diverse) thanks someone in his heart: Lord Jesus or sacred oak tree, Blessed Virgin or earth goddess, corn maiden or Krishna.