My daughters, and my niece, and a host of friends and relatives are serving dinners today that will astound and delight their guests. Not me. I’m a lazy cook. And I don’t have a standard oven, just a portable convection one. Our menu is pork roast (crock pot), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (plain, baked in the microwave), steamed broccoli, salad, stuffing (from a package), sweet corn (steam pack), hot rolls (frozen from someone else’s kitchen), homemade ice cream, and turtle pie (Mrs. somebody). I know, I know. Pitiful. But my son is our only guest and he is fully aware that this is not Grandma’s house. If I thought for a moment that he was coming here for the food…I’d check his temperature.
What I hate to tell my culinary queens is that in another five years no one will remember what stuffing they served. No one will remember if they served turkey or ham, or both. What they might remember is that little David snapped the wishbone with Aunt Opal. Or Aunt Louis wore her new mink. Or Uncle Thomas didn’t live to eat the next Thanksgiving dinner. Barbara helped wash the dishes for 45 people while the rest of the women talked and the guys watched the game. Chloe announced she was adopting a child. Betty introduced her new husband to the clan. All memories from my past.
Oh, I’m not saying we don’t remember the food of Thanksgivings past in glowing visions of ecstasy. But they are usually vague, generalized memories. My grandmother’s food was always wonderful. She made the best bread! And Bigg’s pies were legendary. But most of us don’t remember specific menus or dishes, unless something went wrong. I remember the year Aunt Ann ruined the turkey and we couldn’t eat it, but I’d be hard pressed to recall the year Grandmother made ham instead of turkey, or mince meat pie instead of pumpkin. I challenge you to recall your Thanksgiving menu from 2005.
What we recall instead are our experiences with the other people at the table. We remember gathering with friends and relatives and neighbors. We remember little nieces and nephews and grandchildren. We remember saying grace together. We remember laughing and talking and sharing. We remember the precious times when, for at least a few hours, we are a family.
Our family has always been scattered. Even in my grandmother’s generation her siblings were in Nevada, California, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Maryland. So family gatherings were treasured. Anyone who made it to the table might not be seen again for another year, or ever again.
So enjoy your fabulous food today. It may be talked about for months to come. But don’t neglect your family and friends. Get out of the kitchen and find out what they are doing. Leave the dishes for later. Play Scrabble with your nieces and nephews. Watch the game with Grandpa. Ask Aunt Josephine what she’s doing these days. Tell someone you love them. Make some memories. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
BTW- That lovely turkey has long since done his duty for mankind, but he was an entertaining guest one year. He belonged to my dad and he loved to tap on the sliding glass doors and “talk” to us. Hope loved to hear him gobble. He was also the fierce ruler of his little flock and often got into fights.