Feasts of Thanksgiving

While jotting down my Thanksgiving grocery list, visions of past turkey days floated in and out of my mind. My early memories of the November holiday include me setting the table while my mother worked her magic in the kitchen.

Sometimes, to free up oven space for Thanksgiving Day, Mom prepared the turkey early and put it in the oven to cook overnight. The next morning, the delicious aroma of roasted turkey drifted into our bedrooms, waking us with the promise of the feast to come.  

Due to the miles between here and there, we seldom traveled to share Thanksgiving dinner with extended family. But gathering around the maple table with my parents and brothers was no less special.

My small self didn’t pay much attention to the kitchen wall clock—how its hands continued to turn. But turn they did until I stood in a matchbox-sized kitchen in Alabama preparing the first of many Thanksgiving dinners in my future.

It mattered not that I cooked only for my husband and visiting in-laws that day. I read my mother’s recipes over and over, shed chopped-onion tears, and anxiously checked and re-checked the turkey. I wanted that meal to be perfect.

The distance between Alabama and West Virginia kept us south for the next three Thanksgiving holidays. Those Novembers we celebrated Friendsgiving with, well, friends. We feasted on a parade of favorite Thanksgiving dishes. That’s when I was first introduced to Green Bean Casserole.

Upon moving back to WV, Gary and I did what most young married couples without kids do. We ate Thanksgiving dinner with my family and then raced across town to his grandmother’s house to do it all over again. By evening, we lived the definition of “stuffed.”

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz…. Those were Alka Seltzer moments I’d gladly live over again.

When our children entered the picture, we stopped speeding across town and hosted Thanksgiving for both sides of the family—at the same time. Nothing compares to the laughter of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins echoing from one room to another throughout the house.

Tomorrow, Gary and I will gather with our children at the home of the Mauldin’s, our daughter’s in-laws. We’ve been rotating the hosting of Thanksgiving dinner with the Mauldin’s for a few years. Regardless of who hosts, Kristen’s mom-in-law (Amy) and I pretty much shoulder the responsibility for the food.

The difference is that the host gets first dibs on what she wants to cook. This year, we’ll have Amy’s sweet potatoes and stuffing—her kids’ favorite. Next year, I’ll make the sweet potato casserole and stuffing recipes my children grew up with.

“Grew up with” are keywords. I’ve come to learn that one recipe doesn’t outshine the other. Trust me, everything on the Mauldin’s table tomorrow will tantalize our tastebuds to “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” heights. That Amy’s adult children prefer her stuffing and my kids prefer mine is more a matter of tradition than taste.

It’s kind of like my mother’s singing voice. She would never sing in public. She would tell you she was not blessed with the gift of song. My adult self was shocked to learn this. Yet, I still believe that no singing voice compares to my mother’s.

That’s a long, roundabout way of saying, “No moms and dads do anything as well as our own moms and dads.”

Tomorrow, we’ll get together with family and friends. We’ll play games, half-watch a football game, and feast. Hopefully, we’ll pay particular attention to the love around that table and give thanks.

While Thanksgiving traditions may change, the reasons we celebrate do not. And maybe, just maybe, we should gather to give thanks more often.

Everyday Life Friends & Family

VievesVine View All →

writer, blogger, columnist

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