11/4/09

Ah the Memories

I tend to spend a large part of my time reminiscing about events in my life. Thanksgiving happens to be one of the holidays that floods my mind with never ending memories. It is without a doubt my favorite holiday mainly because it has always been a time when both family and friends come together to enjoy at least one day of unselfish sharing and giving both of spirit and nourishment.

Our entire juvenile lives, my siblings and I spent Thanksgiving day watching football with Dad and/or assisting Mom (getting in her way) with dinner. I learned at an early age how to make the most difficult dish of the mean - mashed potatoes - and have spent years perfecting my most delicious recipe that includes real cream, maybe a bit of sour cream or mayo and other "secret" ingredients that even my own mother has lost track of. I progressed from mashed potato duty though I never gave up the duty of "official potato masher" into deviled egg duty. Those too are some of my now family favorites.

I can still feel the heat in the kitchen combined with the aromas of turkey, sage dressing and broth. I can feel the steam as, once again, I checked the potatoes boiling to make sure they were not too soft yet. I can hear my mother telling me how profoundly great I was at such a duty -one of her many ploys to maintain full participation. Sometimes when I feel the steam coming from a pot of potatoes I hear my father and brothers cheering and jeering in the living room as their favorite team plays out one of their games.

My freshman year of college marked a change in our festivities to some extent. My sister in law was pregnant with my first niece and they came to stay with us during the holiday. So, we had an extra guest and my brother had to behave a little more during the football game. She sat in the kitchen and visited with us as we talked about the day and worked on all the recipes. I got the potatoes and the deviled eggs ready and then, we discovered that Mom had once again forgotten to turn on the oven. The turkey sat there, still half frozen...waiting for something to be done to finish the meal. Not to be outdone, Mom made my very favorite meal - spaghetti - and we rescheduled "Thanksgiving" for the next day. All's well that ends well.

I have always been a person to bring home strays and Thanksgiving was the greatest day for "stray gathering" ever. Once I got into college and met people from other countries, states and towns, I managed to always collect a good carload of strays for Thanksgiving day. I never noticed our old country home was not some nice dining parlor, I just drug them all in and we always had a great day. Once, I believe most of the Canadian contingent of our college hockey team joined us for the meal. That was fun as none of those guys had ever had a southern Thanksgiving before. Not to mention, my Dad was very vocal during the football game and they had a blast just ...being Canadians...and making noise right along with him. I think by the end of the day he had become bonded with a couple of the guys. My little sister had become quite attracted to them as well. Yeah, I had my fella, but he wasn't one of them...they were just friends who had nowhere else to go. I wouldn't dare let them not have Thanksgiving - it is a treasured day!

These days, I cook at home for my own family. Still...the tradition continues. My turkey is always too big for my family, my ham is too much and I make too many potatoes for us to ever indulge in. So, we end up with a bunch of strays or with plates in a box to carry to people who are working at the local stores, our police dispatchers or just about anyone else we can think of. The dogs and cats get quite a feast as well.

I usually end Thanksgiving with putting up and lighting the Christmas tree. That was a joyful thing for us when we were younger. Christmas is glorious with the lights, the gifts and the month long celebration of our Savior's birth. But Thanksgiving - that's when people can just love one another - and eat like there's not tomorrow.

Yeah...Thanksgiving is one of the greatest holidays ever invented. I wonder if those pilgrims and those Indians ever realized just what a great tradition they had started.