ANN BAILEY: Thanksgiving is a great time to make lasting memoriesThis week we celebrate Thanksgiving, one of my favorite days of the year. Though it officially still is a holiday, in some ways it seems to have become a non-event that is sandwiched in between Halloween and Christmas. Black Friday, the shopping day with mega-sales, gets more attention than Thanksgiving.
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, one of my favorite days of the year.
Though it officially still is a holiday, in some ways it seems to have become a non-event that is sandwiched in between Halloween and Christmas. Black Friday, the shopping day with mega-sales, gets more attention than Thanksgiving.
I think Thanksgiving deserves more than that. It should be a holiday in its own right, one that will create great memories for ourselves and for our families. I recently read an article in a women’s magazine that quoted a chef as saying that for children, seeing their parents in the kitchen creating a house that smells amazing teaches them what warmth smells like.
“It’s your gift to your children to keep the memory alive of you, what you stand for,” Tyler Florence, Food Network star told Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
I can relate to that. One of my most vivid Thanksgiving memories is of waking up on Thanksgiving morning to the smell of the turkey and stuffing roasting in the oven. By that time my mom had already been up for hours and had prepared a variety of side dishes including tomato juice salad, creamed onions and sweet potato casserole.
Though I’m sure my mom was tired from the late night-readying of the house and pre-dawn rising, she greeted each of us with a cheerful “Happy Thanksgiving” when we wandered into the kitchen for breakfast. She didn’t chide us, either, when we snitched some of my grandparent’s home-made stuffing as we grabbed the milk for our cereal. The stuffing, left over from what didn’t fit in the turkey, would be cooked later that morning along with the side dishes.
Throughout the morning, the smells of Thanksgiving intensified as my mom’s culinary creations were added to the oven and mingled with the aromas other dishes. They culminated in the spicy, sweet scents of the pumpkin, mince meat, pecan and apple pies my cousin brought, fresh from the oven, when she arrived with her family.
Family, of course, was the most important ingredient in the Thanksgiving celebration. It usually consisted of me and my brothers and sisters, our parents, cousins, great-aunt and uncle and my grandparents. One of us would lead a table prayer of Thanksgiving, and then we’d sit down to eat.
After dinner, my brothers and the men would watch television while the women visited over dish-washing. If the weather was warm enough, one of my cousins, my sister and I usually headed outdoors to play or ride horse back.
The cool air and exercise combined to make us hungry again, so when we got back in, we’d often eat another piece of pie or make a turkey sandwich. Everyone would visit some more, then the guests would leave and my mom, exhausted by that time, would sit down to rest or take a nap. She didn’t have to worry about feeding us because the leftovers were nearly bursting out the refrigerator door.
Although it’s been more than 15 years since my mom hosted Thanksgiving and about 40 since I was a child those memories are as vivid as if they had happened yesterday.
Making new memories
This Thanksgiving, like the past dozen or so, my husband, Brian, and I will host Thanksgiving. We expect about 20 family members will gather around our table to eat turkey, cranberries, stuffing and some of our favorite side dishes made with my mom’s and grandma’s recipes.
Many of the people that I shared Thanksgiving celebrations with as a child are no longer with us physically, but will be there in spirit. Though my children have never met many of them, they are kept alive through the stories they hear.
Meanwhile, Brian and I are creating Thanksgiving memories for our children by hosting Thanksgiving dinner. A 20-pound stuffed turkey will be roasting in the oven long before they wake up and throughout the morning, we’ll add side dishes to the oven. Just before dinner my sister-in-law will arrive with fresh-baked apple pies.
And then, after saying a prayer of thanks for our family, friends and food, we’ll sit to enjoy dinner together. After we finish washing the dinner dishes, we’ll head outside to work off some of our Thanksgiving dinner by going for a walk or play football with the children. When we get back inside we’ll probably eat some more , and then our guests will leave and Brian and I and our children will reminisce about the day.
I can’t think of any better way to spend the day than by celebrating our blessings by gathering with family and friends to share a meal. I hope someday my children’s memories will prompt them to pass on that gift to their own families.
Best wishes for a Thanksgiving that is filled with memories in the making.