Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving memories...

On our menu this year is:

Sweet Onion Tartletts
Vegetable Crudite with dipping sauce
Fruit and Cheese with crackers
Deviled Eggs
Smoked Turkey
Maple Glazed Ham
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Corn Casserole
Fruit Salad
Pumpernickel and Sourdough Rolls with Herbed Butter
Pecan Pie
Brownie Pie
Pumpkin Pie
And no, I'm not cooking it all myself. No one would be impressed with a stressed out woman so both the turkey and the ham are precooked and I need merely warm them. The ham is even being warmed in the crock pot during the day. Dad is bringing the corn casserole (I don't even really know what it is). Mom is bringing the stuffing (because she's picky and only likes her own). Two-thirds of the desserts are premade. I will be making the brownie pie so that it's fresh and warm. So, that's what's on our menu.
I love knowing what everyone else is having for Thanksgiving. I love the idea of all the tradition that is in the recipes that are passed down generation to generation.
Like, stuffing. That is a typical recipe that is very specific what people like... Honestly, I'd like to try out different recipes for stuffing. Stuffing. Dressing. I call it both, isn't that weird? Everyone loves stuffing so much -- why do we only eat it at Thanksgiving? That seems so silly. There are SO MANY different variations of stuffing out there. Some are cubed and kind of dry, some are soggy... some have sausage, some have mushrooms, some have chestnuts. There are so many different types I'd like to try. I think I'll go on a stuffing making frenzy in January just to find the stuffing recipe that I really like.
Frankly, I'd like to try my hand at making an entire turkey from scratch but I won't do that on Thanksgiving. I'll do it another time just to make sure that I know what I'm doing before I mess up a perfectly good holiday dinner!

When I was a kiddo we wouldn't have turkey and dressing (that I can ever remember), we'd have chicken and dressing (because my grandmother didn't really care for turkey that much). She had a TEENIE little house... seriously, it was maybe 1300 square feet. I'm guessing it was even more like 1100 or so. She had a tiny little kitchen and no dishwasher and she would cook an entire Thanksgiving meal in there for everyone. She was the most amazing thing! It would be chilly outside and it'd be so hot in her kitchen that the storm door would fog up. The smells coming from that tiny kitchen were a work of art. She would bake her pies from scratch. She would make her stuffing from scratch. She would make her gravy from scratch. One of these days I'll venture into an entirely homemade holiday but this year -- having Josh gone, Ben so young and Drew ready to play, it's more fun, to me, to be with my company than chained to the kitchen.

Thanksgiving is a time that I generally spend thinking a lot about my grandmother because it really was the holiday that made her shine. She was an amazing cook. I remember the last Thanksgiving we had with her. She was living in a nursing home at the time... they went to pick her up and bring her home to celebrate with everyone. I used her handwritten recipes to make Thanksgiving dinner --and most importantly -- her stuffing!

We all plated our dinners and bowed our heads. Uncle Norman led the family in prayer. We were reminded that we were ever so thankful for just the simple act of being all together at that very moment. You see, we knew her days were numbered (lung cancer). She was weak. She was on oxygen. She was deteriorating.

We made her a plate.. and everyone waited with baited breath for her reaction to "the stuffing." She took a small bite and chewed... looked at me and said, "too much salt." (I actually hadn't salted it at all... her taste buds were being effected by the medications she was on.) We all had a laugh and enjoyed that last time we were ever together as the whole Wesson clan... that was truly a Thanksgiving where I was thankful that she was present and a very real part of my life. She died early that December.

Since being married to Andy, Thanksgivings have been spent (all but two of them) at his parent's home but with the news of their impending divorce, that is a tradition that has met an untimely demise. Therefore, the torch has been passed to me... and it's time for me to start traditions of our own here at our home. This is the only way that I can ensure that the traditions are a constant for my boys. Traditions are sometimes corny, sometimes annoying but everyone really does look forward to them just because... well, it's tradition!

One of the traditions we're going to start this year is a joined prayer. I've written a prayer and am going to print out on cards verses to the prayer. Everyone is going to draw a card and read their portion of the Thanksgiving prayer.... even Drew.

Another tradition I'm starting this year is one I read about on the internet where you get a king-sized sheet to use as a table cloth and have everyone present sign a portion of it. Then, after the holiday passes, go back and embroider over anything written so you have a time-capsule, if you will, of who was there and their "mark" left... I can only see this as being a treasured keepsake in years to come.

I'm actually going to have the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on this year and get to watch it instead of being stuck in the kitchen unable to see it. It's honestly, something I look forward to very much every year!

Even with the many issues heavy on our hearts this year, we still have much to be thankful for and that will be the focus on my holiday.

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