When I was a kid we celebrated Thanksgiving in the traditional American way. Our family got together and prepared a delicious turkey dinner with all of the fixings. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but thinking back it was a complicated process that all of us engaged in. Think of an orchestra where every musician brings their special talents; knows what to play and when to play it in order to create a masterpiece!
Everyone had responsibilities and a role to play in order to feed the family not just the holiday meal but for the whole weekend. Thinking back, I am in awe at the preparation involved in preparing a holiday meal for 11-17 people. Everything we cooked was made from scratch. Think about it…
Mother Fran would prepare the grocery list a week in advance. Dad would do the shopping so everything would be available when the prep work began. Days before the actual holiday we would start peeling apples for pie, making pie crust, de-frosting the turkey.
On Thanksgiving morning, Dad’s job was to prepare the turkey and get it in the oven. Mom would make the stuffing and delegate the chores. The older kids would direct the younger kids to peel potatoes, snap the ends off of green beans, cut veggies and prepare casseroles. Some of us would be washing dishes while the rest of us were making more in the prep process.
The gold silverware that was kept in a wooden box lined with velvet would come out of storage to join the fancy tablecloth and good china on the table. Every place setting got a large plate, small plate, water-glass, wine glass, a cloth napkin, 2 forks, a knife and a spoon. The ice bucket, water goblet, gravy boat and serving spoons would come out of the china cabinet and find a place on the table.
Thanksgiving was always a meal to remember! Turkey and gravy, green bean casserole (with the condensed mushroom soup and crunchy onions), cheesy broccoli, mashed potatoes, creamed onions, stuffing, rolls with real butter. Apple pie, pumpkin pie and assorted other desserts.
Everyone would help prepare the meal. Everyone would eat too much. Everyone would help clean up. Everyone would play games after dinner. We would watch football, fall asleep in front of the television and laugh all night long.
As a kid I knew what to expect, I understood the dynamics and I loved every minute of it.
I miss being a kid.
For many years, I joined good friends for Thanksgiving and we celebrated a vegetarian holiday together. We would each bring a dish to pass and someone would make the Tofurkey. We would drink beer, talk, laugh and enjoy each others company. I even taught them to play games!
I miss my friends.
Then I started to work on Thanksgiving.
I don’t miss that.
As an adult with no kids of my own I no longer have traditions like the ones of my childhood to take part in. My big family is spread out and have families of their own.
Don’t get me wrong, I will still eat a yummy Thanksgiving dinner and spend the day with my honey and her family. But last year, I did something different and I don’t know what next year will bring.
I guess, I haven’t figured out the dynamics and I don’t know my role. But I know I can help out in way needed, I know my way around the kitchen!
I was lucky as a kid to have a wonderful family that I loved being a part of. I would climb the big white birch tree in the back yard and wait for my older siblings to arrive for the weekend. I liked spotting their car driving towards my house and running to great them. I liked cooking together, cleaning up together and playing games together.
Child #1 and her honey are out of town and I am watching the cats and taking care of the house. Promise you won’t tell them that the other night my honey and I prepared a yummy dinner for some friends at their house! After dinner we cleaned up together and then played card games before eating pumpkin pie for dessert. The evening was full of laughter and fun.
I think I am carrying on the traditions of my childhood in my own way. They are changing a bit with new players, new places and new games, but the roots of those traditions are alive and well. I still love to get together with people I care about, cook together, clean up together, play games together and simply enjoy each others company.
Maybe I love these simple pleasures because my family made them so special. While creating wonderful family and holiday memories, I also learned to cook good healthy food from scratch. I learned to plan my meals ahead of time because only so much would fit in the oven at once. I learned to work together on a team, to do my part in order to get the job done.
So today, I express gratitude to my parents and my siblings for so many wonderful Thanksgiving memories. It is because of you I love spending time in the kitchen chopping, dicing, peeling and creating yummy meals. It is because of you I love to play card games, watch football and enjoy the company of family and friends.
I am also grateful for old friends and new friends. I am grateful for my honey and the life we are building together. I am grateful for the new traditions we are creating from the old ones!
I wish everyone a wonderful holiday filled with new and old traditions, people you love and yummy food cooked from scratch!