My Best Thanksgiving - Nov. 24, 1977

It was Thanksgiving Day and also my parents wedding anniversary.  I had proudly as a young wife planned to host the family for Thanksgiving dinner in our tiny off campus apartment as part of the combined Thanksgiving / Anniversary dinner.  As it turned out, it was also the day after the worst snowstorm in mid Michigan that year and also the day after my young med student husband had to take his anatomy and physiology exam after having stayed up all night with a laboring wife. (He swears he doesn't remember taking that test but he did get an 'A' on it.) Needless to say, there was no turkey, no dressing, no pies and cakes on that Thanksgiving in 1977.  But there was the arrival of this dear sweet boy who became the first of three overwhelming loves of my life.

 November 24, 1977 at 11:09 pm I was delivered of my first child, a son, Reggie II.

Happy Birthday Sweetie. You were my Best Thanksgiving Ever.


My Second Best Thanksgiving Ever

My second favorite Thanksgiving was when I was a junior in high school.  It began when my sister Jo and I were doing our homework after dinner a week before Thanksgiving. Our mom was sighing loudly in the kitchen about how she wasn’t ready for the upcoming holiday meal and how she was tired and was not looking forward to getting out, doing the shopping and putting it all together.  Almost at the same moment my sister  Jo and I spoke up and said “We’ll do it.”

Surprised, my mother turned, gave us a grateful but almost pitying look that said we were misguided to think we had any idea of how to put together a holiday meal for a family of nine plus guests. “Thank you, but no.” she said. “It’s a sweet thought but you two couldn't handle it. It’s too much.” Jo and I looked at each and frowned wondering what in the world our mother was talking about.  “It’s my own fault,” she sighed, “I never taught you how to pull together something like this.” 

“Oh Mom, pul-leeze” I said, a little insulted,(I think Jo rolled her eyes) “We know how to stuff a turkey. We’ve been in the kitchen with you every Thanksgiving for our whole lives. How could we not?”

My mother gave us her signature “Oh Really” look, sat down at the table where we were doing our home work and proceeded to quiz us on the finer points of putting together a turkey dinner. We were ready for her. It was a matter of honor now.  We got a piece of paper and wrote out the menu, the shopping list and the order in which each aspect of the dinner was prepared. We proudly answered every one of her questions and enjoyed immensely the change of her expression from dubiousness to incredulous. 

“You really do know.” She said slowly. 

It was our turn to give her the almost pitying look and sigh. “Yes Mom, we really do know. So can we do it?”

 She hesitated. “Let me talk to your father first.”

We finished our homework as she went into the family room to have a hushed conversation with our dad.  Later I wondered if Mom was trying to get Dad to give her a good reason to say no. About fifteen minutes later she came back in and said tentatively, “Are you sure you can do it? Are you sure you want to?” We nodded yes and she said, “ Well, your father said if I was sure you could it would be ok with him.” Needless to say, we were tickled to death that we were going to get to show off what we could do.
Long story short, early Saturday morning we got the keys to the car and the grocery money from our dad and took off to buy the preparations for the feast. I know it was all our Mom could do to not go with us and she was waiting impatiently for us when we got back 90 minutes later. She carefully inspected what we bought including the 20 lb butterball turkey and reluctantly gave us the go ahead to move to the next stage. Part over me still thinks Mom might have been thinking better of letting go of the reigns of one of our signature holiday celebrations. Too bad. That year, Jo and I were definitely in charge.

Over the weekend and those Monday and Tuesday nights we chopped and diced onions, celery for the stuffing, along with walnuts and apples for the Waldorf salad.  We baked cornbread for the stuffing, peeled potatoes, made a cake and a couple of pies and if I remember correctly, Jello fruit salad for dessert.  We prepared the turkey, stuffed it and about 1:30 in the morning shoved it in the oven to roast slowly (in the traditional brown paper bag, mind you) over night. It was just like she did it. We were confident in our preparations which of course we should have been. We did everything exactly the way we has witnessed our Mom do it over the years. I still wonder why she was so surprised that we had picked up so much from helping her out in the kitchen. After all, it was exactly how she learned to cook from her mom.

Everything turned out great and we were very proud of the compliments we received all around, Jo and I for the meal and my mom for having trained her daughters well in the homemaking arts. I’m not sure how much rest she actually got because she hovered over us the whole time but it was worth it. We were proud to be able to give our mom a true day off. The only thing Mom had to do with the cooking was make the gravy.  (The process of making gravy and I are not friends to this day.) To this day it is my second favorite Thanksgiving memory. I’ll tell you about my best Thanksgiving Day ever next Thursday.


To Our Men and Women in Uniform

In one of my favorite movies "A Few Good Men" Demi Moore's character is asked why she likes the Marines she is defending so much:

To my Father, my friends and family past and present, my two granddaughters in ROTC at Tuskegee Institute and to all of those how have put on the uniform to serve...

Thank You for standing on that wall.  



A little poem crept into my mind when I opened the curtains early this morning and saw fog whisping along our street for a second day in a row:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.*

Amazing the things you remember from high school English class.  It made me homesick for November in Michigan with the turning of leaves, the cool damp mornings and my mother's kitchen.  It triggered off a nesting instinct in me which meant that the first thing I did today was to put on a pot of soup.  


In the fall and winter, I nest in my kitchen.  Cooking and baking are two of my favorite things but I had gotten out of both as my sons grew older and moved out onto their own. Picking up something fast for one on the way home after a long day at work was much easier than trying to think of what to cook for dinner. Since I’ve taken off work to return to school this last year, I find I have more time to pick back up the things I’ve let fall by the wayside and cooking for myself is one of them.

I used to make soup at least once a week when the boys were little, making full use of a very large, very well used crockpot.  Many times I would put all of the ‘fixins’ in it at night before bed on the lowest setting and be awakened the next morning to the most wonderful savory aromas. More than once on a cold morning my sons went off to school after insisting on a breakfast of homemade soup.

In the spring and summer I go for lighter broth based soups like chicken vegetable but I’ve recently been turning to heartier soups like split pea, navy bean or a hearty Italian vegetable. Today I’m making a spicy pinto bean chili which I learned from helping my mom (a great cook) in the kitchen. Mine is a little spicier than hers (I love spicy food) and I use ground turkey instead of ground beef. I still make a big pot but now I freeze a couple of individual serving for later. To go along with the chili there is a pan of homemade cornbread which I also learned to make from scratch from my mom.  Very little of that goes into the freezer because I jump on it as soon as it’s out of the oven.  

Mmmmm…warm cornbread.

I’m glad I started cooking for myself again. There is nothing I love more than the comforting aroma of a pot of soup wafting throughout the house. No matter which variety it is, it always smells like home. Does this time of year trigger a nesting instinct in you? If it does where is your favorite place to nest? I’d love to hear about it and I’d also love to hear about your favorite soup. Feel free to share the recipe.

*Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems (1916) "Fog"
  US biographer & poet (1878 - 1967)

*Linked to:  33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesdays