Heritage turkeys, cornbread stuffing, spiced pecans, cranberry relish and seasonal gelato the likes of Burnt Sugar, Cinnamon and Harvest Pumpkin. Welcome to Thanksgiving at Zingerman’s. The venerable food institution synonymous with its hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and especially famous for its huge corned beef sandwiches and deli sides, offers takeout and mail order for the holiday, and pies galore (Cranberry Walnut and Jumbleberry, for starters).
Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses with Paul Saginaw back in 1982, has no idea what he’ll eat for the holiday (hold the turkey; he doesn’t have a taste for it), but does know that the meal will be shared with his girlfriend—and delicious. He expects the day will be spent with his nose in a book or several (recent reads include Emma Goldman, Patti Smith’s M Train and Gary Snyder’s A Place in Space), writing a new one (he’s at work on the fourth installment in the Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading series, focusing on the power of beliefs in business) and going for a run, all activities that echo his daily routine.
“If you treat every day like a holiday, it’s not quite the buildup,” says the Chicago native. “But that doesn’t take away from an everyday sense of awe. Being appreciative is a huge positive contributor to my life.”
Weinzweig’s intimate holiday celebration isn’t intended to hijack what many consider to be the quintessentially American gathering (after all, he had a hand in creating Zingerman’s signature celery and sage stuffing more than a quarter-century ago), but it is an affirmation of the power and importance of beliefs. And a rededication to his own.
“When an introvert feels pressure to go to the meal, there’s the [commonly held] belief that you must be lonely and there’s something wrong with you and that you feel rejected and terrible,” says Weinzweig, whose own gut dictates otherwise: “I feel calm and centered.”
If you’re someone, who, given the choice, would choose to skip a big holiday meal, Weinzweig advises that you do just that. “Just say no. Try staying home, reading a nice book, making a nice salad, and enjoy your day. You’ll feel better: refreshed instead of exhausted.”
Of course, not everyone’s beliefs align. “Paul [Saginaw, co-founder of Zingerman’s] is the other way. He’s probably having 40 people over.”
The key, says Weinzweig, is to recognize one’s own beliefs, and if they’re not working, to take steps to reshape them. “Positive beliefs create positive outcomes. Negative beliefs create negative outcomes.”
Take note, nervous holiday hosts. It’s not too early—or late—to evaluate and tweak your beliefs about hosting a meal for many guests. Notes Weinzweig, “When you don’t believe you’re a good cook, instead of cooking something simple and delicious, you often try something complex, but you’re in over your head.”
Ari Weinzweig’s Recipe for Thanksgiving—and for Life
• Life is short.
• Appreciate every day.
• Appreciate every interaction.
• Treat every day like a holiday.
• Pay attention to your beliefs.
• Use great ingredients.
• Avoid bad food.
And, if you get sidetracked from a gratitude-based mindset, take a cue from nature.
“If you appreciate the leaves, they’re beautiful,” says Weinzweig, “If you don’t notice them, they’re just a pain in the butt, filling up the gutters.”
All images courtesy of Zingerman’s.