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Happy Thanksgiving from the CvI trio ! Joyeuse Journée de Dinde !*

Happy Thanksgiving from Paris!  

From Ambarish Manepalli, director, co-writer
As I sit here, anticipating an honest-to-goodness Thanksgiving meal with a real Turkey in this land of ducks and foie gras, I cannot help but feel blessed.  We’re making a movie!  And I’m making it with two colleagues, comrades in arms, and brothers from other Mothers (I’m talking about Geoff and Chris here).  Without them, this project wouldn’t be anywhere.  And for that I’m truly Thankful.
Thanksgiving in St. Louis involves a gathering of family and friends at a common place.  It would be a huge affair nearly 40 or so people spread out over 2 Thanksgiving meals.  Yes, that’s right, 2 Thanksgiving meals.  It would transpire, traditionally, at the same family friends’ houses.
  The mid-morning lunch-time Thanksgiving was an inevitably vegetarian one, but oh so delicious.  Trays of vegetable pulao (a rice and vegetable dish) with at least a dozen curries would festoon makeshift tables scattered about.  We’d all grab paper plates and dig in to green been curry, or a yogurt based vegetable curry, or one of my favorites, chickpeas in a rich tomato, onion, masala sauce (Cholay).  We’d take our plates and settle down on any surface that would hold our haunches.  And we would eat.
And talk.
And eat some pie from Tippins (which I think went under) and then some homemade pecan pie, and against our better judgement, 1 more piece…. and collapse.
Then,  in the evening, it’d be Thanksgiving number 2.  Here there would be Turkey and a wild mushroom stuffing, alongside the vegetarian Indian dishes.  The “kids” (all grown up) would be watching football downstairs and catching up.  People would come into town from far and wide and it was the moment to get updated on what’s what.  We’d drink a bit and eat some more and then eat some pie and then realize our pants didn’t fit.
And then, invariably, the day after, we’d have to play some football.  Grab a few guys and girls and get out onto the field at Des Peres Park and go at it… for about 15 minutes.
Winded, we’d inevitably make plans to meet up for a movie at someone’s house or drinks out at a bar.    That’s Thanksgiving in St.  Louis for me.  I miss it.
But I’m excited to share my vision of it in Cowboys Versus Indians!
So Happy Thanksgiving, Joyeux Thanksgiving, from this side of the pond.

Happy Thanksgiving from New York!

Written by Chris VanDijk, co-writer

I have been writing about Thanksgiving for nearly four years and yet somehow, engrossed in the tale of our characters, I have had little chance to reflect upon the Thanksgivings of my youth save the remembrances of pick up football games and the feast itself.

Looking back now I am struck by the vivid memories that I seem to have locked away just for this post:  The snows of Utah blanketing the Salt Lake valley and the purple veins of the rock peaking out of snow covered mountains surrounding us, the crispness of frozen air in my nose and lungs, the emptiness of a ski slope on a holiday.

There are family memories, of course, most notably my Grandma L’s kitchen in Green River, Wyoming, where the red rock formations and flat plains blow and drift with snow, the Green River frozen to a crawl.  I remember my mother staying up with her all night making her famous stuffing.  As a teenager I would stay up late, just to get the first taste with them.  It is one of my three earliest food memories along with my Grandma V’s Dutch and Indonesian feast on New Years and my mother’s chicken and polenta.  It is what drew me into the kitchen and perhaps why I find myself there so often, crafting food infused with love.  It’s how I was raised.

I still stay up late, this year dissecting a turkey late into the evening.  A full turkey for a two adults and a toddler is overwhelming.  And also meals for weeks.  Thanksgiving is not only a celebration of overabundance, but a time to consider our humility and frugality.

I remember my cousins, their blond hair and pink skin so different from mine, and riding down the snowy hills on anything with a slick bottom that would propel us.  No helmets.  Nearly every Thanksgiving or Christmas was spent with them.

I remember Uncle D’s comb-over.  I remember staring at the beer steins in my Grandpa L’s cabinet, made of some kind of ceramic with hand written notes marking an event sitting next to his photos with the members of his mine rescue team.   I remember my Grandpa V’s photo in his Sherrif’s uniform in front of the Utah state capitol.  I remember aunts and uncles and distant cousins.  I remember the children’s table.

I remember antelope bounding in herds of thousands across the relatively flat lands of the Utah/Wyoming border.  Drive through there today and you’ll be lucky to see one.

I remember Johnny Cash on the television, my Grandpa V’s slippers, my father’s smoked turkey and my Grandpa L’s wool and leather winter hat.

I remember my first Thanksgiving with my wife’s family sixteen years ago, and it was awkward… we were just kids then.  I remember standing with my soon to be father-in law and not being able to figure out if the smoked turkey was done and having to call my father for advice.  We ate a turkey-less feast that year and then had turkey sandwiches later that night.  I remember introducing my eigh- month old son to my wife’s entire family, four generations, as we cruised the Caribbean and I chose to forego tradition and I ate lamb for Thanksgiving on the ship.

And I remember football.

I can remember every living room where we watched it on the holiday.  I remember playing pick up games in the street with friends and a nerf football in front of our home in Salt Lake.  And when that couldn’t hold us anymore we’d sneak onto a field, whether it be the windy field of Green River High School or the frozen, iced over Highland High School gridiron or the beautiful view provided by my alma mater, Judge Memorial High School.  We’d hop the fence, toss over a hard leather ball, put on our gloves and hats and play.  Our attire evolved as we grew up from four layers of thermals, ski bibs and parkas, to sweats and sweatshirts to the complex fibers of branded attire and therma-core-compression-wear-goodness.  

The last time I was able to play an honest to goodness knock down drag out was over ten years ago.  Although NYC is one of the great cities of the world, a pick up game on a field on Thanksgiving is not one of the things it easily affords.  And this saddens me.

My last game, I drove my truck to the field and geared up.  I’d pulled out my old h.s. football gear, my tacky receiver gloves, towels, wristbands and cleats and pretended to be Jerry Rice or Ronnie Lott, emulating the greats I’d watch later that day as I settled my stuffed self in for an afternoon nap.
It was slow motion smash-mouth.  We’d felt like giants.

Gods.

Driving home to my small apartment in the avenues.  I passed a 6’9, 250 lb. beast on a Harley Davidson, decked out head to toe in fringed black leather on his way home from an early morning practice.  I looked over at Karl Malone, still in his prime, sitting astride his bike at a stop light and we gave each other a wave and a nod – two warriors heading home to grab a drumstick and feast.

Today we create new memories: a toddler’s first turkey, the joy of decorating the house, making creations out of glue, fallen leaves and popsicle sticks, standing in the cold with hot drinks watching the Macy’s parade, walking through the red/yellow/brown trees of Central Park, trying to put a parka on a squirmy little one and tracking down a missing boot, making pumpkin and five spice or sweet potato and toasted marshmallow ice creams and sharing with friends, rediscovering holiday classics with family and realizing that I am the grown up and the traditions and the memories of my past are all flowing through me into this small person, teaching him lessons I learned long ago.

And curling up with him on the couch to watch the Lions and the Packers while he points at the screen and says, “ball?”

Yes, son, “ball.”

Happy Thanksgiving from South Florida! (?)

From Geoff Quan, Producer
I’m in South Florida right now, celebrating Thanksgiving.  Sure, it’s a little weird, roasting an enormous bird and cooking winter root vegetables in weather that in any other part of the country, at any other point in the year, would prompt you to get thee to a barbeque.  But all in all, I’m not complaining.  I mean, what better way to take that post-turkey stroll, but in flips-flops and shorts?It’s my first Thanksgiving in the Sunshine State, which means I won’t be home this year at my grandfather’s house, eating my way through the progressive holiday dining experience that starts at lunch with dim sum (Chinese style tapas) and will end some eight or nine hours later with turkey, sticky-rice stuffing, and a couple of homemade pies.  At my grandfather’s, everyone contributes or cooks something, and the result is a Chinese American mash-up that leaves us all in leftovers (the best part!) for days.  Like other families, we have a “kids’ table,” although many of the kids are now married and another is expecting a kid of his own in May.  At one point, when we were younger and less wise, we all couldn’t wait for the day when we could join the “adult table”, filled with secret adult conversation and seated with real, non-folding furniture.  But in the past few years, we “kids” have all realized that we like where we eat – we laugh harder and talker louder anyway – the furniture notwithstanding.

Holiday traditions are funny things, created from opportunities, coincidences, and happy accident, but important because we make them so (I mean, why else did my brother, my cousin, and I drink soda – that’s “pop” to Chris and Rish**  - out of my grandmother’s shot glasses for so many years?).  But all of these habits, games, and inside jokes, the unofficial activities that fill in around the turkey, are the best and often most important parts.  I’m thankful to be spending the holiday with loved ones, creating new traditions, and working with Rish and Chris to share the Thanksgiving of the Cowboys and the Indians.

Enjoy the tryptophan!
Geoff

* That’s Happy Turkey Day in French
** this is untrue… at least for Rish it was soda !

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