Thursday, December 6, 2012

Traditions: Things that Don't Change...much

It is Thanksgiving at the Williams home.   My youngest son knows to come home from college with his own favorite blanket, quilt and pillow.  He knows that there might not be a bed for him at the inn.  And he knows if there is a bed it probably won't be his.  In fact he doesn't know who might be in his bed or put it another way he does not have a bed in our house that is his own.  Some things never change.

A week or two before the holiday I have the traditional meltdown because  my husband has just suggested we ask a few more people to the table.   The melt down is part of the tradition.  In the end  more is always the merrier.

I arrived home late Tuesday evening to find the house neat and clean and well stocked with all the trimmings.  Never mind that the 20 pound turkey clearly marked "five days to defrost" had about a day and a half to get un-frozen.

And so began the turkey coddling and care...cold bath for a few hours, daring to set it out on the kitchen table for a few more, back in the frig just in case the turkey has a melt down.... too early.   All that tension about how everyone at my table is now going to die of salmonella.  Part of the tradition.

I have just found out that my niece and nephew are now vegetarian and vegan...well some things do change but "don't worry Auntie".   So I didn't, mostly.  At least THEY would not be taking the food poison challenge.  But really did I NEED a twenty pound-er?

As it turned out that partially frozen bird was done early.  You could hear my shriek across the street.  That little plastic sucker in the turkey breast never pops up on time and this year the little red circle appeared early?  I COUNT on the turkey being late.  Tradition.

The mashed potatoes were gooey and lumpy.   I have learned not to cry over lumpy potatoes.

As tradition dictates, the gravy was too thin but I have my own secret...the traditional packaged gravy mix...just add cold water.

And yes like every other year there was one dish left in the oven and never missed at the table...this year we found the extra pan of stuffing a day later.

The squabbles over which kind of cranberry sauce, smooth or whole berry or homemade?  What you do or do not like in your stuffing.  Not enough eggnog, the lumpy potatoes and thin gravy, the favorite dish that is missing this year...It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without.

My son who lives in Taiwan now still says it was always his favorite holiday...."That was the day when the  house smelled good and warm.  We all sat at the table and ate and you could take a nap(I thought he was just lazy and now I find he was relishing the holiday) and wake up and people would still be eating...then we all walked in the park...and ate more, right?  The late night turkey sandwich...better than Christmas."

When I was growing up the turkey had to be killed that morning...thus I do know that turkeys are not born with pop- up timers.  My Grandmother was dictator of the kitchen and the special down- home southern stuffing had to be just so. I regret that I never learned the recipe but not the loss of stress that went with getting it just right.  After dinner the women in ruffled aprons washed and dried dishes in an assembly line while the men snored on couches in front of Football.  Until...we children jumped on them begging for a walk before desert.  Adults told stories around the linen white table and we children listened even if they thought we didn't.

Now at our house we have guitar music and singing and poetry.  It has become part of our tradition.

We always have a few new faces at the table and miss those who will never be with us again.   The table shrinks and expands with family and friends who grow up, join us with new family or move on to new adventures....Now a-days we SKYPE family who could not make it.  

We are always Thankful to be together with whoever comes to the table and for the food lumpy,  too moist or dry or otherwise... in abundance.

Thanksgiving.  Tradition and memories.  And make no mistake, the cook always gets her own bed in her own room whenever she is in town.


Barbara O'Connor said...

A lovely, lovely post. Your family is awesome.

Richard said...

So vivid! It felt like if we were there! Knowing your great heartfelt hospitality, this is certainly one of the most joyful events around! Thanks for sharing this with us! We're looking forward to seeing you and Steve and all the family again, one day!
Love and hugs!
Richard & Chantal

Leslie Davis Guccione said...

Can't get enough of this one. XXXX

gail said...

makes me miss the crazies!! and laughed about the turkey - there is always a story with those giant birds isn't there? I had a meltdown cuz mine didn't come with the pop up thingy and I wasn't really sure if the thermometer I had to run to get at Bashas wasn't really touching bone somewhere in the thigh :) anyway, LOVE your blog and this one reminds me of home.