Nov. 22, 2011 — Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that reaches far back into my childhood.
I still can’t believe anyone will ever cook a turkey as well as my mother or present such an appealing holiday spread (I see many other heads nodding in agreement about their mothers out there in readerville).
Mom always got up early to get the meal’s many projects rolling.
First came the stuffing she packed into the bird. I understand stuffing a turkey with dressing has become something of a health concern these days, but back in the good old days of my youth in the 1950s, no one ever worried about such things.
Mom always stuffed the bird with giblet-less stuffing to accommodate those family members like me with more discriminating palates, even though she was a proud Texan who found a way to use each and every turkey part.
Believe it or not, some people, including my dad, believe a boiled turkey neck is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
The dutiful son of a southern mother, I tried one once, and I’m not afraid to tell you it wasn’t an altogether happy experience.
So the giblets went in a second pan of stuffing, and then (in the 1960s after my dad’s death) there was even a third pan of carcass-free stuffing for my vegetarian stepfather.
Golly gee, once that magnificently packed and covered in aluminum foil Meleagris gallopavo hit the oven, mom watched it like a hawk, basting it every few minutes with a giant turkey baster that had yellowed significantly over the years.
Mom was always proud of her moist and juicy turkey.
We knew the bird was nearly done when mom crumpled up the foil and let the skin brown to perfection.
Of course, we always had loads of buttery mashed potatoes, turkey gravy thickened with flour, cranberry sauce, sautéed green beans with bacon, yams or sweet potatoes, biscuits or rolls and pumpkin, chocolate or lemon meringue pies for dessert.
Hey, what can I say — we were just a big family of pie eaters with differing tastes!
We’d all gather around grandma’s old mahogany dinner table while dad cut the turkey and mom loaded the feast on grandma’s turn of the century china that seemed as fragile as fragile can be.
After a few words of thanksgiving, we’d dig in to the best feast we’d had since last year.
We’d eat and eat and eat until we were ready to explode.
There were a lot of kids around that table, and if we were lucky, there might be some turkey left over for sandwiches.
To tell the truth, those turkey sandwiches were pretty darn good, too.
I, like many of you who are my age or older, miss those holidays from the past horribly.
What I wouldn’t give to spend another Thanksgiving with all the dearly departed members of my family sitting around that big old table enjoying a meal without a care in the world.
In a way, I really envy the younger families who are just now experiencing the kinds of times I’m remembering.
I hope each and every one of you will remember to give a humble and sincere thanks for the bountiful blessings God has given us this Thanksgiving.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t say thank you nearly enough.
Make a bunch of new memories today. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
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