When I was in grade school, I used to think that we continued the tradition of Thanksgiving each year to keep the memory of the first one celebrated by the Pilgrims alive. Now that I am older and look back at the Thanksgiving celebrations I’ve shared over the years, I can see that Thanksgiving has become more than just getting together to thank God for our bounties. It is Thanksgiving evolved—not just how I think about it, but also how my family celebrates our blessings and connectivity with one another.
Growing up, my mother used to get up at midnight every Thanksgiving morning to start the turkey and fixings, often prepping much of it for days before. Every year our meal was ready by twelve noon. Mom would work diligently, often with little to no help, even though there were eight of us children to pitch in, if we were asked.
The meals my mom would make were a feast that could compare to that of royalty. In addition to the turkey was the usual sides of dressing and gravy, mashed potatoes, corn (sometimes corn on the cob), homemade rolls, cornbread, broccoli and cheese casserole, cranberry sauce, green beans, and more. Every recipe was her own fine-tuned adaptation of a loved ones tried-and-true family heirloom, or of those found in a favorite magazine, many often becoming her secret recipes.
The best part of the meal, and what everyone would look forward to, was the desserts. My mom is a great cook, but she is an even better baker. Her recipes were divine. From pies of cherry, pumpkin, apple, and mincemeat to other variations like pumpkin chiffon sheet dessert and cherry dump cake, her desserts had everyone at the buffet line serving themselves a sampling of each. And, that doesn’t even include the fudge, brownies and chocolate chip, sugar, peanut butter, and her most famous pan de polvo cookies and equally famous pound cake.
Over the early years of my marriage, I never tried to compete with the perfection of my mom’s cooking and baking. Living away from loved ones, we would often travel to our families for the holidays. I would pick one or two sides to take that I only hoped would be liked. Amazingly, my sweet potato casserole became the most asked for item, giving me the feeling that maybe I had inherited some of my mom’s cooking and baking genes. It consisted of freshly boiled sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped pecans, marshmallows, and the secret ingredient of pineapple that I can no longer eat.
For the last few years, my mom has shared her cooking skills with some of our family and her close friends where she lives, and we have joined with our son’s family at his in-laws to celebrate. The meals are different but just as good. My mom is older now and doesn’t cook or bake as much, but insists on doing the main dishes—turkey, gravy, dressing and mashed potatoes. Her dressing and gravy have always been my all-time favorite of anyone’s, including Luby’s or Marie Calendar’s.
As we join our son’s family for Thanksgiving this year, all wearing masks and socially distanced as best as we can be, we will provide the rolls (not homemade), salad, and a favorite Crawford family recipe of banana pudding. I have many food allergies and can no longer eat what I thought I could. So, our hostess will provide a few dishes I can enjoy, and I will refrain from eating what I should not be indulging in. Well, I will try!
As I contemplate my blessings this year, I am grateful for all of the memories along the way. Without these treasured moments, I would not know how to appreciate this year of 2020 that has brought so much. The pandemic. One year’s notice on my current job. A new job title. A published first book and a second one in draft form. And a renewed goal to get in shape for my future as a new author and living in a new place.
I am grateful most of all for my husband who has seen me at my best and at my worst. I am grateful and so appreciative for my mom and all she has given me and sacrificed in her life for me. I am grateful and blessed for my son and his wife, my grandchildren, my sisters and brothers, my friends and acquaintances, my readers and followers, and my puppy, Sammie. I cannot imagine my life, as it currently is, without each and everyone of you with me on my journey. I am forever grateful, heart overflowing.
My wish for you, as you enjoy this holiday of Thanksgiving evolved, is that you also embrace those moments that remind you of what is important in life. May you rise above the inconveniences of Covid and find a way to truly appreciate and celebrate this season of thankfulness. May you see that it is in the small things, cozy settings, and bank of memories that we evolve into and find ourselves… being grateful… being loving… and being loved… wherever we are at.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours…and keep smiling!
As we embrace being thankful for all that we have, consider checking out my book, “HONOR ONE ANOTHER: The ABCs of Embracing Our Spirit Within,” for more on growing and evolving….at Amazon by typing my full name, Virginia Alice Crawford, into the search bar. Thank you and God bless.