Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, but in truth it was the night before that I truly loved. Each year after school (although the tradition probably started before I was old enough for school) I would set off for my Grandma’s house to spend the entire night cooking in preparation for the next day’s feast.

The very first dish I ever learned to make was the Thanksgiving dressing. Standing on a chair and hovering over a huge silver tin, I put my tiny hands to work crumbling cornbread and biscuits. Grandma would add the chopped onions, eggs, giblets and seasonings and I would shove my arms elbow deep into the pan combining all the ingredients, laughing and talking while the smell of the poultry seasoning filled our noses. Before even being asked, I would step down off my chair and position myself at a safe distance as I watched Grandma pour in the still hot turkey broth. Wait, wait, wait for it to cool and then the real fun began as I plunged back into the very gooey mixture to incorporate the broth. Time for tasting…a little more salt…needs more poultry seasoning…that’s perfect! My grandma would then pull out two huge sheets of tin foil and we’d wrap the pan to sit overnight in the fridge before cooking it the next day.

As the years went by, I no longer had to use the chair or step away when the hot broth was making its way from the stove. My Grandmother patiently taught me how to peel an egg worthy of being deviled and how to use the ugly ones for the potato salad. She taught me how to chop cucumbers small enough for the macaroni salad, how not to burn the fried onions atop the green bean casserole and how to make pumpkin pie.

As I got older we started the tradition of me trying out one new dish each year. There were successes like my pumpkin bread, failures like my German potato salad and then the triumphs like the tedious and time consuming homemade crescent rolls that I was doomed to cook year after year. Eventually, I took over more and more dishes until I could practically cook the entire meal save the sacred sweet potatoes.

Thanksgiving Day would start early and within a few hours my aunts, uncles and cousins would arrive bearing their own tin foil covered dishes, crowding the kitchen, poking their noses into pots and vying for my Grandma’s attention.

It was okay though. We had had our time together, just me, my Grandma and all the love and warmth that filled her kitchen as we prepared for the holiday.

I called this morning knowing the time difference would mean I would catch Grandma in the kitchen. I could hear her wooden spoon stirring pots as we talked and I wished so much to be there next to her, elbow deep in the gooey dressing, laughing and talking as the smell of the poultry seasoning filled our noses.

It’s tough being so far away during the holidays, but along with so many blessings, I’m thankful for the memories.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day. Happy Thanksgiving!

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