Yesterday my mother-in-law cooked some winter squash (nankin) for us because, apparently, one traditionally eats nankin on the shortest day of the year. “Why do you eat it today?” I asked, hoping for a more detailed explanation. “Because today is toji (the shortest day of the year),” she replied. Okay. Whatever. I suppose it has something to do with the Chinese characters that represent winter squash, a secondary meaning, or maybe there is a synonymous word that has some special meaning. If anyone out there knows, I’d love an explanation.
At any rate, we ate the squash, and in a week or so we will be eating o-sechi ryori, in which every morsel is weighted with meaning (fish roe for fertility and so forth). In the meantime, I am preparing a traditional American holiday meal that no one will appreciate as much as I will. Lilia and I made cornbread today. On Christmas, I will roast a small turkey which, according to the packaging has been killed according to Muslim law, and I will also prepare sweet potatoes in orange shells, mushroom stuffing – and pumpkin pie, if I can find a can of evaporated milk.