Nov 28, 2013
I realized recently that every culture has a thanks-giving celebration with their family community/society to give thanks for what they have. A ritual communal gratitude for their connection to other people, their ability to eat, and to exist.
At least once a year, we all have an opportunity to be grateful. I’ll take mine now.
Thank you for the sun and the clouds and the beautiful artwork the two make in the sky. And for the trees that make air so I can breathe. And for my existence so that I was able to experience the miracle of my children. And their laughter. And for my fabulous husband who will always forgive me for not listing him first. And for everyone who loves, cares, and supports me because I am truly nothing without them. And for the really cool dinosaurs that came and left their bones for us to look at. Good enough.
Nov 27, 2013
I discovered from my Mom recently that when she was a child, she used to spend celebratory meals like Thanksgiving and Sunday Suppers,
with her Aunt’s family. They lived within the same block in their rural Missouri town. Many people have these sorts of memories.
Where I grew up, we didn’t have any family nearby. So I like to create the family memories for my kids.
Memories of cousins upon cousins and aunts and grandparents piled into a house to feast.
The clan celebrating itself, laughing and enjoying the overfed and captured audience.
Scene of and witness to the uncomfortable squabbles and unsaid shames that are family. Forgiving, accepting, and moving on.
This humanity riddled imperfect holiday gathering is a combined memory of a nation. Every nation has a Thanksgiving, a tradition
that is carried over by generations to the next and lives in their memories of long gone houses and people.
Now the holiday happens in the children’s homes. The same foods are being prepared In their kitchens.
New tales are being made to tell at the table to a new generation of children.
And the patchwork quilts of a family and it’s feasts are both created and shared. The keepers store the Thanksgiving quilt away
to be remembered again. Or to be forgotten.
Nov 26, 2013
I used to have another life involving another husband, another set of in-laws who hosted Thanksgiving at their house, and no car. Eventually, we stopped showing up for Thanksgiving dinner.
Divorce is sad but my happy memory is of making my own meals based on whatever theme I felt like experimenting with. And I continued to do this with Christmases and New Years days with my now husband. We do spend Thanksgiving with his in-laws and we own a car and a truck.
I have often thought fondly of the themes and the dishes I’ve prepared for these occasions. There was an Italian themed dinner that included homemade egg pasta, which I do and it’s not hard, and a Reinforcement salad, a pickled vegetable salad with a religious story behind it. I remember reading Italian Christmas dinners are usually really late after mass. I prefer to eat early.
There was the seafood themed holiday where I got to cook a lobster tail. The lobster was attached. There were probably oysters for an appetizer. I make a pretty mean oyster stew too. But I add diced potatoes and carrots. Sue me.
Talk of the feast always comes back to your favorites though, doesn’t it? My turkey day favorites include turkey with the cornbread stuffing incorporating any combo of sausage, apples, or chestnuts. Nuts or mushrooms too. It all makes me happy. Mashed potatoes and home-made gravy most definitely. We used to enjoy a cranberry jello salad called Junk. This one is close but maybe needs a ground up orange. I prefer whole cranberry sauce (recipe right on the bag of cranberries), love creamed spinach, and for dessert? I’m a pecan pie girl all the way.
I used to make this Oyster casserole dish below. Stopped because it was so rich. But found the recipe and thought to share as it’s an East coast classic. Happy Full Belly Day people.
I pint of fresh oysters…1.5 cups of crushed Ritz crackers, tossed in 1/2 cup of melted butter (use 1/2 cup for each layer in the recipe)…reserve 4 TBS of oyster liquor and combined with 2 TBS cream and the dashes of nutmeg, and Tabasco. Put a thin layer of crumbs on the bottom of a buttered baking dish that is about 8 inches square. Put on 1/2 the oysters Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on 1/2 the liquor mixture. Repeat, and top with remaining crumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F.