With Thanksgiving this Thursday, Barclay and I thought we would start a tradition of writing our own recollections. After all, in this first year of publishing http://www.revisionistretirement.com, we want to celebrate with you. To our followers in Mexico, Canada, and elsewhere in the world, it’s the spirit of being with people you care about over a meal that you are fortunate enough to have on your table. You are all family now since you know far more than you ever wanted to about both of us!! I like to call it blog catharsis! I digress…
I love Thanksgiving, always have. It’s an innocent holiday, no gifts, no high expectations (I hope the mashed potatoes come out fluffy. I hope the turkey isn’t dried out, …) but rather traditions passed down from generation to generation.
Muriel, my mother, labored over Thanksgiving every year. She ironed the bedspreads (I’m lucky if I make the bed at all!) went down to the Lower East Side to buy nuts, prunes, dates and marshmallows that she made into a confection stacked with a toothpick. She took that recipe from her mother. She had to climb on a ladder to get the “good” dishes down from a cabinet in our kitchen too tall for any human being to reach without help. Linen tablecloths and napkins passed down from my great grandmother to her daughter (my grandmother) to my mother with monograms. A bygone era of formality and manners.
The most important tradition was the chestnut stuffing, no recipe, but passed down by observation. It started with 2 day old white bread, scoring chestnuts, roasting them to sweet nuttiness, and the addition of chicken broth, sautéed onions, celery, salt, pepper, paprika, touch of sage, onion powder, and if a bit dry, a touch of oil. I can’t give you specifics because they are in my head and only passed on to family members! This one recipe was the hallmark of our family celebration, coupled with watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while my mother ironed the bedspreads and attended to last minute details before the 3:00 planned feast.
Traditions are wonderful to pass down to our children, make them your own and value them. The generation they came from will live in the foods you prepare, as well as the smells in your home unique to your own family history.
Peggy was not big on holiday fanfare. I will have to consult my brother on this, but I don’t recall any Thanksgiving feasts or Christmas stockings. When we moved to Florida she didn’t bother with a Christmas tree.
So when I became a mom I was determined to go to the other extreme.
The only problem was that I was not much of a cook. My mother in law, Rosemarie, had to resuscitate many a parched turkey or salvage many a side dish of dry stuffing or limp green beans. Sounds appetizing I know!
For dessert we eventually just turned to Bakers Square since my pie creations were not exactly award-winning.
But we did have FUN in the kitchen and around the table. Our neighbors would come over for cocktails and appetizers and we’d be a happy group by the time dinner was served around 4pm.
We loved playing games as well. After dinner, a card game of Hearts would be in full swing while football played in the background.
Joy is right about the innocence of Thanksgiving.
Just family, friends, and togetherness. A tad drunk – chewing on a dry turkey!