Hello, everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been very social for the past few weeks. My day job’s been very demanding recently and I’ve had to choose between work, sleep, writing and social media. Unfortunately, social media and sleep have gotten the short end of the stick. But things have eased up a bit this weekend, so I wanted to be social again, especially with Thanksgiving so near.
Thanksgiving has always been a day of traditions in my family. When I was little it was the one holiday my father didn’t have to work (he worked shift work and always traded to work Christmas so he could get paid double time). So Thanksgiving was the one day in the year my parents and I could be together all day, and especially to sit down and eat together. Therefore, a lot of traditions grew up around this day.
I’d get up to watch the Thanksgiving Day parades while my mother finished getting the dinner ready. We always ate at the stroke of noon, so her morning was very busy. The menu remained the same throughout my childhood, another tradition. My father had a garden during the summer, so Thanksgiving was a time when all that bounty showed up on the table: fresh butterbeans, snaps (green beans), squash, potatoes for the potato salad, sweet potatoes, and collards. There was also deviled eggs, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, hot brown ‘n’ serve rolls, pumpkin pie, and the turkey of course. Quite a feast for just three people! (We ate leftovers for days!)
The dinner table was always set with one particular linen tablecloth and cloth napkins, dishes and glasses only used at that one meal, and particular silverware only used on this day. I can see that table in my mind’s eye and it always makes me feel like I am home.
I must say an additional word about two dishes: the cornbread dressing and the collards. The dressing, or stuffing, was my father’s mother’s recipe and was a two day affair. You had to cook the cornbread with onions and celery the day before, then use that as the basis for the cakes you made on Thanksgiving day. Yes, the dressing was made into little cakes using the cornbread mixture, Peppridge Farm stuffing mix and water from the turkey plus spices and baked. I can taste the sage right now.
The other dish that says Thanksgiving like nothing else to me is collards. My father made the best collards that anyone has tasted. He grew them in his garden and froze them, so we had them year round. He cooked them originally in a steel pressure cooker that no one was allowed to touch but him. They were seasoned with smoked hog jowls and came out so tender they would melt in your mouth. Eventually, the pressure cooker became so old the gaskets for it were no longer available and he adapted the recipe to the crock pot, cooking the collards on low for 24 hours. Still tender and mouth-watering. It’s the one dish of his I learned to make and now at family gatherings (like this Thanksgiving) I am looked to to carry on the tradition of my father’s collards. It is a task I take with great seriousness and look to with great anticipation (and appetite!).
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with friends and family, and traditions of your own. Please share a Thanksgiving tradition if you like. I always wonder what other folks do on this day devoted to family.