Friday, November 23, 2012


It's the day after Thanksgiving and boy, I need some more sleep!

Just took my morning Blood Sugar reading and it was a nice, low 95 -which is pretty darned good considering all I ingested yesterday. I was pretty sure it would be elevated today what with having had the usual goodies for supper -turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower with nacho cheese sauce, baked beans, lots of gravy and pumpkin pie -followed later with a feast of the sugar cookies my neighbor dropped off yesterday too! Then, late last night I polished my day off with a cold turkey sandwich with mayo and a little bit of the homemade cranberry-orange relish I had made that really sets a cold turkey sandwich off in the right direction.

Our Thanksgiving Meal is a direct reflection on the years we spent Thanksgiving Day as well as Christmas Day at the home of my Dad's youngest sister. For 27 years -from 1979 thru 2005 - we were always at her house for those two very important days. Up until the late 90s, my aunt-who was by then in her 80s -always fixed everything herself but then I started doing more and more and bringing various things to her house until the last 5-6 years, I was cooking all but the potatoes at my place and transporting virtually the entire meal to her home to be served.

Holiday meals, in my Aunt Mike's opinion, were to be occasions that were shared with family and also, often with various friends of hers who she knew would otherwise be dining alone that day. She stressed that to me and to my kids and they (and I) all looked forward to those dinners with her. She was not just a very good cook but also, as the Matriarch of our family, when she said she expected us for dinner, she meant be there OR ELSE! She would guilt trip anyone who missed those meals for ages afterwards.

Although my kids were still fairly young the first time we went there for Thanksgiving in 1979 -my son was 6 and younger daughter not quite four, the whole event left quite an impression on them as to what Thanksgiving was truly all about. At that particular meal, it was the last time my Uncle Arch and his wife were present with us and they, along with my other aunt, provided what my kids came to regard as great comic relief on that occasion.

My other Aunt -Lizzie -had made her specialty -plum pudding for dessert and on the advice of her daughter, she had soaked said plum pudding in whiskey or brandy and planned to ignite it at the table. However, you know the old expression I'm sure about the best laid plans of mice and men and that plum pudding absolutely refused to ignite and burn. She tried again and again to get it to light but no success which prompted Uncle Arch to tell her, after virtually each attempt, "Pour a little more whiskey on it, Lizzie!"

My kids absolutely loved that comment from him and it has stayed with them now for over 30 years as rarely does a family meal here take place that someone doesn't make that comment -even through it never actually applies to us having plum pudding -or anything else, for that matter -ever being served in the "flambeau" style! They just love saying that and I think it is probably the only memory they have too of that particular Uncle of mine.

Good times, those meals always were. Often Aunt Lizzie's son and his wife and their family would also be there for dinner -which always made my younger daughter very happy as their daughter was the same age as Mandy and the two of them then always got their meal served at a little card table at the end of the dining room so they felt they were really the princesses of the family as they got special service and their own private table then.

One year I recall, my cousin Mike's son, cooked the dinner for all of us. He was attending culinary school at that time and it was one of the few occasions when we didn't dine on Turkey and trimmings but rather, we had roast duck with some kind of vegetable/rice stuffing. I do remember he also made fresh onion soup for our first course and then the duck and stuffing but I don't recall what else he had prepared. I also have to say that the onion soup and the duck and stuffing were quite awesome dishes though! (He's now a chef at some restaurant down in Florida someplace.)

There are a lot of other memories my kids and I hold very dear from those dinners too -not just all the great food we always had but little things that made those occasions so very special to each of us.

I think the fact that those meals were pretty much regarded to be a command performance type thing by our aunt that was what galvanized the idea that family MUST be together for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas Dinners if at all possible. Regardless of the weather, we were all expected to be there and on time too! However, my older daughter often paid little to no attention to the time set for our meal to begin so that eventually, my kids and others would have a pool where anyone who wanted to participate could, for a quarter per guess, put a time on a little slip of paper and then, whoever's guess came closest to the time of older daughter's arrival would win the pot -usually consisting of about a buck and 75 cents at most. It was a fun little game to play until older daughter got wind of what was going on and got a trifle hot under the collar about it.

We still, on occasion though, revive that pool and gambling over what time she's going to arrive at various family functions but just don't do it every time. (We could go broke donating a quarter a clip some times, ya know.)

And so, because of the way I grew up with respect to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners -always as a child, there was extra family present for both these occasions except that then it was always aunts, uncles and cousins from my Mom's side of the family whereas later on, it became a special dinner shared with relatives from my Dad's side. One great result from that is that my kids then learned more about my Dad's family growing up than I had had opportunity to do.

Yesterday after Maya gave the blessing of Grace prior to our being seated, once we began to eat, Kurtis as almost everyone around the table a question. "What are you thankful for?"

I was really surprised initially to hear him put that question out there but he sat and appreciated answers he got from those he questioned and was very pleased with himself over the whole thing. This showed me that as his age he is already understanding and giving value to the meaning of being thankful not just for food on the table that one meal but always, every day, and also to the value of sharing this with family and friends as well.

And today, I really think that our turkey must have had an extra portion or three or more of the tryptophan because either that or something else unknown or unsuspected by me is apparently giving me a severe case of the "drowsies!"

I think I'll slip away quietly while the kids enjoy watching some Christmas videos this morning with Kurt's TSS and catch a few more winks and dream of days gone by when Thanksgiving was always shared with the best family groups ever!

Hope you all had as great a Thanksgiving as I had yesterday and that you too also have memories to call up and replay of those dinners now long since gone into the annals of family history.


Debo Blue said...

I was surrounded by memories yesterday myself Jeni. Most of them from happy Thanksgiving meals, some...well, there's always some crisis or fallings out when family gets together, right?

Anyway, your dinner sounds wonderful and I'm glad to hear Kurtis' question. The answers may help him keep things in perspective for a long time. I also really like the background of your blog, it's festive.

Maybe I'll change mine after having the same format and color for more than five years.

Travis Cody said...

Pam and I shared stories this year of some of our past holidays with family. We have developed some great traditions for ourselves, and brought along some we remember as kids.

It's nice to blend our pasts with our present as a little family.

terri said...

I love to read about your memories and traditions. I think that's what these holidays are all about... reminding ourselves of all the blessings in our lives and carrying them on with our favorite traditions. I'm glad you had a wonderful holiday, Jeni!

Suldog said...

Love posts like these, Jeni. Memories of good family times are big on my list of "Things That Always Make A Good Blog Post"!