When it comes to Thanksgiving, there are two kinds of cranberry sauce people: the can people and the homemade people.
I come from a long line of can people. In my family, the canned cranberry sauce was an essential part of our Thanksgiving tradition, and I thought it was awesome. Unlike the homemade cranberry sauces, the canned sauce would not carelessly meander into the other food on my plate, disrespectfully tainting the sweet potato pie or rudely running into the turkey gravy. Additionally, since I was raised on the stuff, I actually liked the taste and had no curiosity whatsoever about how they were able to get it into a shape that continued to look exactly like a can when it came out.
I was not introduced to actual homemade cranberry sauce until I got married. My husband came from a traditional cranberry sauce family, and like most traditional cranberry sauce families, they thought us canned cranberry sauce people were heathens. Of course, they didn’t say that out loud. But when I looked around the Thanksgiving table at my first Thanksgiving dinner with them and asked for the canned stuff, I could see in their eyes that they were thinking it.
Wanting to fit in with my new family, I tried to be accepting of the homemade cranberry sauce, but to my canned-cranberry taste buds, it just tasted nasty. I preferred the artificially sweet taste and smooth gelatinous texture of the canned cranberry sauce to the tart, somewhat lumpy feel of the homemade stuff. I don’t think this made me a bad person … just someone with a preference for exceedingly fake foodlike items.
At first, I felt bad that I was the lone canned cranberry sauce person at the table. But then I realized it was a great chance for the canned cranberry sauce people and the homemade cranberry sauce people to meet at the dinner table and accept ALL the cranberry sauce options we had before us.
I considered all the other rival groups in history that had been unable to transcend their differences — the Sharks and the Jets … the Montagues and the Capulets … the Yankees fans and the Red Sox fans — and realized this was indeed an opportunity for the two cranberry factions to finally come together.
So, in the interest of peace, love and brotherhood, I decided to bring a can of cranberry sauce to my next Thanksgiving dinner with my husband’s family. While my traditional cranberry sauce brethren simmered their whole cranberries, sugar and orange zest on the stovetop, I unsealed my canned cranberry sauce with a can opener, smiled with satisfaction at the “slurp” sound it made coming out, gently slid it onto a plate and then sliced it into circles.
As I proudly set my plate of canned cranberry slices onto the buffet, I beamed at one of my nephews and offered him a slice of canned cranberry goodness.
He studied my cranberry sauce, and then, in the true spirit of the holiday, he looked up at me and said:
Tracy Beckerman is the author of the Amazon Bestseller, “Barking at the Moon: A Story of Life, Love, and Kibble,” available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online! You can visit her at www.tracybeckerman.com. To find out more about Tracy Beckerman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.