Thanksgiving

 

          My, don’t we have a lot to be thankful for?  The recent rains that have returned our land to green, head our list of things to be thankful for.  We are thankful for our neighbors, our families, and our husbands and wives, and our children, grand children, and great grandchild.  And I am thankful for the memories of past Thanksgiving Days.

          Our daughter, Jeannette, arrives early and decorates the kitchen.  She unfolds a bright red spread for the table, and places a candle display in the middle.  She insists on using the best china; that we have been saving for company, which is proper.  Her decorating sets the scene for a festive day.

          Alice always puts the turkey in the oven the day before and let it cook all night.  She goes peacefully to sleep, but I fret all night fearing it will get too done, or not done enough.  She is always right; it comes our perfectly every time.  Alice also has been kind enough to learn to make my Mother’s sweet potato pie.  It is similar to the traditional pumpkin pie except it has grated zest of lemon for the favoring.  That takes me home in memory.  She also bakes a special pineapple cake.  I don’t know how, but she has it fall in the center allowing most of the pineapple frosting to flow to the middle.  Just to show how thoughtful Alice is, she will let me eat the juicy center first.  Our daughter in law, Vicky has become famous in the family for her prize winning chocolate pie, made with a homemade crust.  She usually makes two, but hides one for Greg and me for later.  While she is in the pie-making mode, Vicky makes an apple pie with that fancy lattice top, and everything.

          Well, as you can see all the work has been completed the day before.  Thanksgiving morning all that has to be done is to cook the mashed potatoes, make the brown gravy, open a jar of sweet pickles, brew the iced tea, make a green bean casserole, chop up oranges, apples, pineapples, grate some coconut for the fruit salad, and not forgetting the jar of Maraschino cherries, which I will sample as the day goes by. Some like giblet gravy, and someone usually makes it, but I manage to sit at the other end of the table to avoid looking at it. Did I mention cranberry sauce?  No?  And yeast rolls to sop in the gravy?  And make the after dinner coffee?  As I said, all the work is done the day before.  Except the corn bread stuffing.

          Alice has developed a way to make the stuffing into an easy task.  The day before Thanksgiving, she makes a large pan of corn bread to which she adds plenty chopped onions and celery.  With a lot of pepper and sage in the pan of corn bread  sure makes the house smell great.  Thanksgiving morning, the turkey is done, Alice adds the drippings and juices of the turkey into the crumbled cornbread.  Now this is the best part, she calls me to sample to make sure there are enough pepper, sage, salt, onions, and celery in the mixture.  It takes me several tries, but I get it right; sooner or later.  She then bakes this mixture in a granite pan and serves it as a special dish.  It always earns the blue ribbon of the day.

          But, you know, even without all the turkey, stuffing, pies, cakes, casseroles, hot rolls, Thanksgiving Day, with the family would still be my favorite holiday.

 

Hollis Baker  22 November 2009

             

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