As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been reflecting on how the way that I have celebrated Thanksgiving has changed through the years. Each year has been enjoyable, but there have been a few changes along the way. When I was a child, my parents would pack my sister and I into the car and we would have a mid-day meal at one grandmother’s house and an evening meal at our other grandmother’s house. Both grandmothers lived in the same city which was near the town that we lived in, so the traveling was not a big deal. The food that was served at each location was slightly different.
I remember that my mother’s mother used to put out a relish tray and celery stuffed with cream cheese and green olives as appetizers. There was also a “horn of plenty” filled with nuts in the shell, with a nutcracker alongside. The meal included roasted turkey, 2 kinds of gravy (giblet and non-giblet), stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and southern-style sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. There was red wine at every place setting, with tiny little glasses for the kids. Dessert was a trio of pies – apple, pumpkin, and pecan, as well as pizzelle cookies and anisette cookies. You may have guessed by some of the items on that menu that this grandmother was Italian. She was also an amazing cook, and helped to inspire my love of food and cooking.
My father’s mother had more people to cook for – she had six children, and when my sister and I were young children, there were four other cousins about the same age. The meal was no less spectacular, and included ham in addition to the turkey. There were also scalloped potatoes, and delicious desserts. After my father’s mother passed away, the celebration moved to my aunt’s house and continues there to this day. Last year was the first year that I did not make it there to celebrate, as I live three and a half hours away and my son was less than a week old.
For the past eight or so years, I have also enjoyed Thanksgiving with my in-laws. Sometimes we have the meal at their house, other times at my brother-in-law’s house. My husband and I have not yet gotten to host it at our house. Believe it or not, we want to host it, it’s just that the others “call it” before we do each year. We do bring some of the food, though. This year, I’m making pecan pie and my husband is making a pumpkin-espresso cheesecake. In years past, we have done a lot more of the cooking and I actually miss not doing it.
One of the many things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving is that my parents are understanding about not seeing their grandson for every holiday, and that my in-laws are likewise understanding. I hope that all of you are looking forward to a wonderful holiday with family and friends. I am looking forward to helping my little guy, who just turned one, eat his first “real” Thanksgiving dinner and to sharing good times and memories that will last for years to come.