Musings on The Ghosts of Thanksgiving Dinners…Past…

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Musings on The Ghosts of Thanksgiving Dinners…Past…

Musings on  Thanksgiving dinners from years past have been mulling in my mind this morning in less than the brightest colors, I’m afraid.  Memories of time-honored dishes like the lumpy bumpy  mass of congealed mush (which certain relatives called cornbread dressing) bring back quiet horrors of my childhood days. I believe I was permanently scarred by these experiences…. (Yipes!)  For years, I never ate dressing if I could avoid it because the thick mass of stuffing and the heavy flavor of sage had always made me gag. The murky, slightly thickened liquid with the nameless parts of the less delectable remains of the turkey (otherwise known as giblets) floating in it, which was to be poured over said mushy dressing,  was always a little nerve wracking for me to swallow. Eating this gravy was, as a small child, something akin to Russian roulette: Any bite might result in a mouthful of turkey liver--I sometimes feared to take the next bite. How I despised the horrid pungent taste of liver! 

But to be fair..better, more ‘hallowed’ memories come to mind too…. The delectable, melt in your mouth taste of heavenly, buttery whipped potatoes, piled in bowls in snowy white drifts, bring back phantom hunger pains even now….40 years later. I had decided, even as a child, that it was not feasibly possible to make too many whipped potatoes—experience with my own family has proven this to be 100% true. No matter how many pounds of potatoes I peel, cook, and whip, they are always gone by the end of the day. Green bean casserole and golden slices of juicy roast turkey only added to the delightful pain of an overfilled stomach. But the pain was always worth it, I can assure you! Out of respect, we won’t mention certain overly dry pieces of white meat; quiet evidence of turkey roasting gone awry. After all, no one, not even Grandma, is perfect--Rest her dear sweet soul. 
 mom's blog 020

As I recall, it took at least one tediously dreary TV rendition of a football game, and a good  rousing romp in the back yard with the cousins holding rock throwing wars, while our grandparents dosed noisily in their lazy boy recliners, to digest our long awaited repast.  Then came the crowning achievement…the pies! Pumpkin(so-so), pecan (my favorite!), apple, peach, and even chocolate pies appeared from cupboards and atop refrigerators and were spread out along the counter top with a triumphant flourish…all ready to be generously dolloped with not so healthy doses of fresh whipped cream.  I can tell you, it was never hard to say thank you to the Lord for such a bountiful feast, even if it was laced with cornbread dressing and giblet gravy.
cute apron freckled bug I do hope the ghosts of Thanksgiving past, otherwise known as my dearly departed grandmothers , will forgive me these belated complaints as I certainly admired most of their cooking. It wasn’t their fault that my young and inexperienced taste buds were still too sensitive to appreciate the strong flavors of sage, or that my overactive gag reflex just couldn’t tolerate the pasty texture of liver and stuffing.  I’m certain too, that giblet gravy was made with all the proud housewifely gusto of frugal kitchen queens down through the ages. Somehow, the fact that every last speck of turkey was gone when dinner was over (or at least by the next week) made the giblet gravy a crowning work of art to the grand accomplishment of Thanksgiving dinner, (Their motto,  “No part left behind!”) …not to be repeated…until Christmas… a mere month later. I'm convinced that our poor mothers, of years past, took at least three months to recover before attempting to repeat one these sumptuous and breathtaking affairs, on a smaller scale, for Easter.


Knowing that Thanksgiving dinner is a major undertaking, and requires many years of practice to perfect, I have decided to post a blow by blow description of our traditional Thanksgiving dinner down to the hour-- tomorrow morning. You will notice that the gravy is missing the requisite lumpy bumpy parts: It’s just pure golden bliss.  And the stuffing comes from Stouffer's, because I don’t know how and don’t want to know how to make stuffing. I leave that to my foodie friends.  (Feel free to recommend a recipe.)  I have discovered that I actually do like bread long as it isn't mushy of course. Keep in mind that my next post is supposed to be about dinner for BEGINNERS or moms like me who are  either too tired or just too busy to spend hours, days, or even weeks working in the kitchen for a meal that will be over in one hour or less.  But I do want my kids to grow up with some special memories of delicious dishes…so I’ve included them in my tutorial tomorrow.
Lena eating
Though it will make my foodie friends cringe,  I’ve unscrupulously suggested store bought pies (heaven forbid!), for my busier readers, partly because they are so easy to ‘doctor’ up.  (Thanks for the tip, Grandma!) Besides, I made wonderful pies from scratch for YEARS only to discover that my dear hubby thought I had been buying them from the store all along.  I was crushed! All those years of hard work and he never knew!  So don’t kill yourself over this dinner. It’s about friends and family as much as it is about the food..and more importantly, Thanksgiving is a day to remember, with gratitude, all that our heavenly Father has done for us…and sometimes an overfilled belly can cloud our thinking. And, of course, we don’t want to get so stressed out about the ‘perfect Thanksgiving dinner’ that we can’t enjoy celebrating with our nearest and dearest. Thanksgiving, is, after all, about giving thanks. 
Donna Quilting2 
How about you? Have you got any nostalgic Thanksgiving day memories you’d like to share? I know we would all enjoy them immensely! Why don’t we have a little linky party of favorite Thanksgiving day musings? Just because the department stores have forgotten Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean we have..right?

And Be sure to come back tomorrow for Part II: How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner…for Beginners

and Happy Homemaking!

PS. To any dear relatives reading this..I did really LOVE my grandmothers' cooking! (All except for the stuffing and giblet gravy. :o)


Kelly said...

Hi Donna. Great post. You are such a talented writer, very descriptive too! Thanksgiving is a small holiday for my family as it's just me, hubbub and our boys where we live. My Hubbub makes the best Turkey... and since he does I have NEVER even attempted to make one! Isn't that crazy? We will have a bigger Christmas as Hubbub's parents are coming for a visit! Yay!
I do encourage you to continue with your writing.
Hugs and many blessings to you Donna

Millicent said...

Well, I think you know it goes without saying that the pies at our celebration will most certainly be homemade, since that's what my hubs specializes in making. I'm so disappointed that you don't enjoy dressing/stuffing like I do. We had giblet gravy with ours, and I do say this is the only time I eat it, but I do love it. I don't eat liver either, but the small pieces my mother cut it into didn't bother me. She also had some turkey shreds in there too. My dad was from LA, so we had sweet potatoes at our dinner. My mother was not about to have dressing, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes at the same meal, so I didn't grow up with mashed potatoes. But, my in-laws do have them, so my kids want them. Enjoy your turkey day!

Donna said...

Dear Millicent, I know that Paul makes the best pies ever. No doubt his would not have been mistaken for store bought. Ha!

I'm so happy for you that you love giblet gravy and stuffing.

The strange thing, this Thanksgiving, is that for the first time in my memory, I'm NOT cooking the whole to bottom.

My mom said she really didn't need me to bring anything. Wow--she's a great cook, so I guess I will just sit back and enjoy...I'm getting a Thanksgiving vacation this year. :O)


Debby said...

I actually got the linky thing to work.
Thanks for your suggestions. I love what you are doing. Those sleeping bags will be so much fun and useful.
If they have ruled everything out about your husband heart wise, consider a gastroenterologist (sp.?) He may have a problem with his esphogas problem. I have been hospitalized twice for chest pains and it was my esphogus. Very painful and scary. I will say some prayers for him.
Happy Thanksgiving.

meg said...

Thanksgiving when I was a child meant a trip to the movie theatre! Mom and Grandmom cooked without children underfoot, Daddy spent time on one of his few days off with his daughters and we all reunited for a great dinner. My Grandmother's stuffing was a meat-based bread stuffing and we fought over it! She always made a huge batch because we HAD to have some for the leftover sandwiches the next day. Now I make it and I've yet to find anyone who doesn't enjoy it. Unless they're just being polite!

Donna said...

I would love that recipe Debby.Amazingly, years later I discovered that what I disliked so much was CORNBREAD stuffing. Bread based stuffing is awesome. In fact, I had a friend, whose husband made the best stuffing ever, with meat and nuts in it. He loved to cook regularly from Bon' Appetit' magazine. That's when I discovered that not ALL stuffing was bad, just congealed cornbread types. I know some people like it, but for me the texture was pretty grainy and mushy and jelly-like. Fluffy bread stuffing with the right spices is delicious. My family loves it!


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