Thanksgiving Reflections

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  Family and friends gather to visit and give thanks, at least in my family.  This year I am going solo.  After changing jobs and moving, the usual family Thanksgiving seemed out of reach this year.

Growing up Thanksgiving was originally a trip to Charleston where my Grandmother cooked for twenty plus.  Turkey, ham, oysters, green bean casserole, rice and gravy,  dressing, squash, ambrosia, and apple pie were on the table.  I recall being taught how to polish silver and set the table as my contribution and wash the dishes after dinner.

Somewhere along the line we moved to Thanksgiving at my Mother’s.  We always attended a Moravian Love Feast on Wednesday night.  This was a community event with members of the church neighborhood participating.  The President’s proclamation was always read, coffee and a bun served, and there is one memorable sermon that I will always recall.  My Dad and I left the service under my Mother’s critical eye – as if we were both two.  The sermon used the refrain “over the river and through the woods”, unfortunately in my and my Dad’s opinion we went over the river one time too many.  Back home it was preparation for the big dinner the next day. Silver was polished, the table set, the turkey prepped.  The menu was similar to that in Charleston, after all my Mom learned from her Mom.  Ice box rolls and broccoli casserole were added at some point as an homage to my Dad’s side of the family and a coconut cream cake made an appearance.  Baked apples became part of the main course.  The family was slightly smaller and Mom served twelve to fifteen rather than twenty plus.

Then Thanksgiving came to my house.  Tradition is tradition. I’ve cooked for five and for twelve.  I have fried turkey and baked it in a bag.   The menu varies based on the number eating but is the one I learned from my Grandmother.   The silver is now handed down to me as is the china.  While I don’t have a Love Feast in my town, there is a community service that is reminiscent of those I attended growing up.

What I will always cherish is my family, gathered together for a few days.  The main dinner was delicious and fun.  Mom and Grandmom  were amazing cooks; but the turkey sandwich that followed our 2PM meal was as good, if not better, as it was with family.  It was at these gatherings that I learned about my Mom’s escapades growing up and how to cook.   I remain thankful for the many holidays with family who are now scattered near and far.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May your holiday be shared with those that love you.

Thanksgiving Dinner.

I’m southern and southern means large family dinners especially for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  Growing up we were either hosting the meal in North Carolina for my father’s side of the family or driving to Charleston to attend the family fete on my mother’s side of the family.

Regardless of the local, the table was expanded to maximum capacity with all available leaves inserted.  Silver was polished, the good linens ironed to perfection, and the good china and crystal placed on the table in anticipation of the meal. My grandmother would create a fresh arrangement of flowers and greens for the centerpiece.  Mr. Carson (the butler from Downton Abby) had nothing on my maternal grandmother who did not need a straight stick to spy an errant piece of silver not exactly lined up with the edge of the plate or a napkin incorrectly folded.

It was all work in anticipation of the big reveal when the turkey came out of the oven.  It was also much more.  It was family togetherness, working together, gathering in the kitchen to chop, dice, slice and catch up with everyone and what is going on in their lives. I also give an honorable mention to all the dishes that were hand washed before and after dinner.

The Thanksgiving menu for such a large group was long and varied.  Turkey, ham, oysters, jello salad, cranberry sauce, squash casserole, rice and gravy (Charleston was once a great rice producer and the tradition lingers on), dressing, green beans, homemade icebox rolls, and then dessert.  Somehow, I never remember dessert.  I think I was always so full of my other favorites that dessert never made much of an impression.  Coconut cake and apple pie I’m certain graced the table but the main event was the turkey and the sugar cured ham.  Served promptly at 2pm, we began with grace and then promptly moved to devour everything  lovingly prepared.

Over the years the family has shrunk and so has the menu.  I am now the host rather than my mom and I eagerly anticipate the arrival of family from out-of-town and the chance to visit and catch up over the chopping, slicing and dicing.  The table is a reminder of my heritage; set with silver from my grandmothers, china from my mother and my own crystal.  On Thursday my family will once again say grace and give thanks and remember fondly those who are no longer around the table.

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In anticipation of turkey day, I grocery shopped this weekend.  My menu is turkey, squash, green beans, cranberry sauce, dressing, squash, and rice and gravy will be on the table.  Dessert is an apple tart.  My to do list is long but I will be smiling and remembering those Thanksgivings past as I prepare our dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Blessings

October ended in a blaze of color with trick or treaters, jack o lanterns, and small goblins of varying sizes.  November ushers in Thanksgiving and the prelude to Christmas.  As I put my terra cotta pumpkins away for next year and started pulling out my glass pumpkins for the Thanksgiving table, I kept thinking about blessings.  I usually count my blessings on Thanksgiving, but I’m doing it early this year.

I count among my blessings:  faith, family, friends, puppies, a home I love, health, happiness, travel, work, and a love of life.

What do you count among your blessings?IMG_9245