Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We're All Pilgrims

Howdy, “Pilgrim!"

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I’ve been pondering a lot lately about family and the holidays this week. (Where has the time gone?)

Here in the Deep South, southerners are gathering their harvest like little worker bees. Pumpkins, squash and collard greens cook in pots on just about every stove (not mine, thank you very much!). I’m into Bing Cherry Salad, Oyster Dressing, Cornbread stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, ROLLS and more ROLLS! All homemade! When we gather at my FIL’s, the food isn’t what you see above. No, though the meal is a treat, the company more than makes up for the loss of my favorite foods on the ‘day of all days’ itself. Instead, my family must celebrate our Hooville feast later in the week. That’s when I get my wish. In that moment I’m transported back in time to dinners provided by my grandmother. Roasted bird, a most plump bird, succulently glistening upon a beautiful platter. On the sideboard… pies! Pies all around! There will be Pecan, Cherry, Apple, and Derby Pie (Derby gets its name from the Bourbon cooked inside it, mixed with chocolate chips. Woo-Hoo! Anyone who knows this pirate can attest I have a love affair with chocolate chip ANYTHING! ~pleasurable spasms~)

But I digress… my most heartfelt apologies. Let me offer you a tempting morsel. ;)

My grandfather, Grandy, always placed little cups of mixed nuts at each place setting. Oh! No service was left untouched. Grandmother made this wonderful apple/peanut butter salad or she’d serve the Bing Cherry Salad, mentioned above, on a separate plate, each beautifully formed mold sitting upon a bed of lettuce. Heaven!

Grandmother was a northerner, born and raised in Quincy, IL. She brought northern traditions with her to Texas and passed them on to my mother and me. (Here's where it gets good. Dad's mother was a purebred Texan, born and raised.) Cut to the point direct, as they say in Regency England. Do I go to all the trouble Grandmother did? The answer is plain and simple. No! Why? I’m not sure. Could it be that in the process of moving all over the world, and taking in other traditions, that I neglect to bother? Or am I simply lazy? If you guessed ‘lazy’ you’ve probably hit the nail on the head. People just don’t go to the trouble these days of serving others. I have beautiful China passed on to me from a Great Aunt. Do I use it? Not often enough. Why? It’s too much trouble to get it out, clean it up, and then make sure I don’t become a nervous wreck thinking someone will break an heirloom piece. Oh, and there’s also the hand washing afterward. You guessed it. The word I'm looking for is lazy!

Now that my kids are grown, breakage is mostly likely a part of the past— unless you count my disaster prone habits or my grandsons (boys will be boys!) Isn't it high time to bring out the molds, China, and tablecloths? Certainly by doing so I will be honoring my grandmother's memory and making her proud. ;)

Pondering holidays, recalling childhood memories, reels like a movie trailer in our heads, reafirming to us what we should be thankful for. Time passes quickly. Today is here. Today is now. But tomorrow and the next day, and the next, will be here in a matter of unconscious breaths. Take the time this Thanksgiving to inhale the aroma of roasting bird or baking pie. We all should do a classic study on the tempting beast, roasted and stuffed (I admit my northern roots creep in here). And when, at last, the feast is served, no matter how loving or ridiculously obnoxious a relative may be, we need to make an honest attempt to serve with thanks. By doing that, we'll be honoring family tradition, and through that, ourselves.

The pilgrims were indebted to Squanto and his tribe for showing them how to harvest nature’s bounty. To celebrate their newfound independence, knowing they wouldn't have to face another winter without starvation, they set a large table, putting aside their differences in race and religion, sharing the spoils of their labors, together.

Holidays are a time when families are forced to endure each other’s presence (aka Cousin Eddie on National Lampoon’s Vacation).

They are a perfect time for Vampires and Werewolves to set aside hundreds of years of grievances on The Vampire Diaries (LOVE IT! Damon, oh! Damon!).
Though I do love the macabre, I won’t go so far as to say, Thanksgiving is a time to invite Zombies from The Walking Dead to the table. That show scares the gourds out of me! (Y'all know I like to read a twist on Jane Austen or the Brontes, but it would be insanely stupid to welcome that lot to the feast. They wouldn’t be craving the bird for a treat.) Zombies!

Yikes! Cousin Eddie sure has changed! ;)

Long and short of it… this is an ode to Thanksgivings past. (Raising a cyber mug of Sparkling Hot Cider and saluting everyone under the Tulip tree today. Y’all know I'm verklempt. :D

So, making a long blog longer, everyone is welcome at Okay, Listen Here — even Cousin Eddie. Can you lampoon Thanksgivings past? Is there a Cousin Eddie lurking in your closet or is that just John Wayne chomping at the bit to say: “Howdy, Pilgrim!”

As an addendum: As one of John Wayne's 'Pilgrims', you have the right to protect the innocent. Nothing you do or say under duress while feasting with relatives lessens your worth in our eyes. Just please promise me one thing… don’t invite the Undead to your Hooville feast.

May the peace of the roasted beast bless your table!


  1. We're combining Thanksgiving meals with our friends. I wasn't going to make my usual sweet potato casserole because my friend's husband wanted to make his recipe. Well, when Darling Daughter heard that she said I had to make our recipe, too, and bring it! Now we are having a Sweet Potato Casserole throw down LOL. It's quite funny. I've never had cornbread dressing so I'll enjoy theirs, but I am bringing Stove Top for the girl child. Haha.

    I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving with your family :-)

  2. Kathy, your post made me think of all the Thanksgivings when I was a little girl when Granny cooked for days and we cousins all ran wild!
    It's no wonder the moms all had nerve pills!

  3. I can understand why DD wants her mom's recipe. Thanksgiving is a day to be comforted. And there's nothing more comforting than tried and true favorites.

    Thanks for posting, Christine! Wishing you a fabulous day with friends and family.

    Wishing you the best and most memorable Thanksgiving yet! ;)

    Stephanie, aren't those the best memories? I've tried to imagine why. Is it because those were simple days? We didn't have to generate the menu, cook the food or worry if the turkey was done enough. We spent the day playing and then when called, sat down to a splendorous feast. Good times! ;)

  4. I like to make things nice, but I faced a while back that the holiday table will never be perfect. Some where along the way, there were people standing between me and my good serving dishes and it occurred to me, it's the people who are important. I used what I could could reach. What good is a holiday gathering if everyone is tired and all the dishes have to be washed by hand?

    I've been known to use my crystal and silver with the best that Chinet makes.

  5. This year I bought a bunch of pressed glass plates at the Pottery Barn, complete with salad side plates, to use instead of paper plates. Like you Jean, I can't use the good china because of all the hand washing (who wants to do it?) I do bring out the Waterford and the good silver. The clear glass plates sitting on gold chargers look just fine!

    My fondest memories are of standing in my Bigmama's kitchen while she cooked enough food for Cox's Army. She never got frazzled and was always kind. Although I have her recipes, nothing I cook tastes as good as hers. Maybe it was the love she put into it.