Seasons are difficult to define. When does winter begin? Astronomically, December 21is the beginning. In my mind, winter begins at Thanksgiving when the holiday season begins.

Many of you will read this issue after the first of many holiday meals—meals that are usually filled with joy and pleasure but can also be times of angst and conflict. Holiday meals come with traditions passed down from generation to generation, family to family. For Thanksgiving, what kind of stuffing is in the turkey? Is the cranberry sauce smooth and gelatinous or chunky and runny? We all have our preconceived notions about what is right.

For me, there is another element that has entered the complicated mix of issues. Where did the food come from? Is the turkey organic? Was it locally and humanly raised?

These questions have created quite a conflict. I’m not the one doing the cooking and have no control over what is served. Should I pass up eating with friends to stay true to my current value system? Can I expect others to be as flexible as I might ask? How will I make it through what was once a very pleasant tradition?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I do believe that there has to be balance and compromise. The traditions and good will of the holidays are as much a part of food and dining as the ingredients in the dishes. So, I think this holiday season, I am going to fill up on the company of good friends, enjoy the laughter and let down my guard. These meals are few and far between and should not be forgotten.

Ilene Bezahler

WinterEdible BostonComment