My mother never complimented me on much when I was young. I was a very scattered brained child but once she told me how I had written a paper about Thanksgiving and she had loved it so much that she had kept it. It was about my reaction upon waking on Thanksgiving morning. I know that paper is long gone but my memories of my childhood Thanksgiving still float through my mind and that is why Thanksgiving means so much to me still today.
My bedroom was on the third floor of a tri-level house and on Thanksgiving morning I would wake up to the smell of roasting turkey with homemade stuffing. I remember how the buttery crisp smell of the turkey combined with the herbs in the dressing would rise up the stairs and into my bedroom to tickle my nose and coax body awake.
My mother and father would wake up early to "prep" the bird. They would wash it, clean it out, stuff it with homemade dressing and tie the legs up and pop it in the oven. This was always a joint effort that brought about some arguing on how things should be done but in the end, the bird was perfectly placed in the baking pan and ready to go. This was also a special ritual of love between my parents. At the time I didn't see it but now being married, I understand how cooking together can strengthen a marriage and show love.
From there the smells just got better. My mother would make mashed potatoes with gravy using the drippings from the turkey. Sometimes the gravy was lumpy but the great taste made up for it. I loved that salty sweet gravy poured over creamy buttery mashed potatoes.
Then there was the string bean casserole which was a simple recipe my mother had found: canned string beans, mushroom soup and onion crisps on top. She took advantage of our microwave for this dish. Microwaves became the big rage during the 70's and my parents had one of the biggest and heaviest one I had ever or have ever seen to this day.
Finally, she had steamed carrots and whatever other side dish she decided to try that year.
Now the dessert was my Aunt Betty's pride and joy and that was her homemade pecan pie. Oh, I just LOVED that pie. I think it is because of her pecan pies that I prefer pies over cake any day. I wish I had her recipe because I haven't found any as good to this day. They were just the prefect sweetness that would melt in your mouth. She would drive all over Detroit to get fresh pecans for those pies. Needless to say, she would bring two and there would be none left when it was time for her to go home.
I miss those days of family and food. My parents and my aunt are gone now and my cousins and I have gone in different directions in life and have lost touch but the memories of Thanksgiving food, laughs, and love will live on.