Thanksgiving was a very special time this year. In recent years Rock and I had been entertained at our oldest child’s home, but this year I wanted to do the entertaining again, and so, the ritual of preparing for Thanksgiving dinner all came back to me. It’s more than just a Big Meal, it’s all the memories that go with it… all pleasurable.
For starters, on Monday of that week I finished the grocery shopping and mixed up the yeast rolls. It’s a refrigerated dough that will be baked on the Big Morning. The moment I measured the salt I smiled. Salt is measured in a cupped hand at my house. Decades ago, as a girl I had seen my grandmother do that when measuring salt for a pie dough. “You didn’t measure it,” I complained to this lovely, endearing grandmotherly type. “I don’t have to. I just know by looking.” She was a sweetie, with rosy cheeks, white, white hair, full matronly figure and never wore a pair of slacks in her life! Always had on a housedress. Boy, could she cook!
Tuesday I prepared the mashed potato casserole that also would be refrigerated until the Big Morning. Several mashed potato moments came back to me, but mostly I remembered the first time I tasted this recipe. It came from a good friend who was in a women’s study group with me. The group was having a Christmas gathering at a new member’s house. We all took dishes to share and most of us arrived in two cars at about the same time. My friend was driving one and she pulled into a driveway, climbed out of the car with her casserole and approached the front door. We all followed. The woman who opened the door was certainly surprised to see eight of us standing there with dishes of food. It turns out our hostess lived on the next street. We spent that evening laughing at the look on her neighbor’s face as she looked out at two carloads of strangers bringing food!
Wednesday I made a cranberry Jell-O and two pie crusts All went into the refrigerator, the later were unbaked. Again, they would be filled and baked on the Big Morning. The turkey was moved from the freezer to the refrigerator. I grimaced at that overloaded appliance and wondered what in the world I would serve Rock for dinner that evening. Something quick!
On Thursday morning the day began early. I filled the pie crusts and while they were baking I kneaded, rolled out and shaped the dinner rolls. My thoughts drifted back to many earlier Thanksgiving mornings. When I was growing up our tradition was to have the big meal at noon then head off to the football game against our school’s long-time rival. My brother was six years older and finally, by the time he was a senior, was big enough to play football. But, he had been exposed to tuberculosis and though he didn’t have it, he was not eligible for the team. Nevermind, he had played in the marching band for years and now, as a senior, he could sit in the back of the bus (going to the away games) with the older boys and the cute girls. But that year the band was very small and some junior high kids plus two sixth graders who were taking music lessons were enlisted to swell the lines, even though their music abilities were not yet up to par. I was one of those sixth graders. I’m sure my brother thought I would tell mom if I saw any hanky-panky going on in the back of the bus. l would have, too. Poor brother! Still, the memory brought some chuckles.
As the yeast rolls came out of the oven that morning I brushed them with melted butter. I had rolled the dough into two circles and cut twelve wedges in one and 13 in the other. The 13th wedge was for our youngest. Oh, how she loved sopping up the last of the butter on that hot roll. I ate it for her, since she was on the other side of the country. Another smile, another happy memory.
I had been missing revisiting those and other happy memories that come with preparing the Big Meal. I think Rock and I will host Thanksgiving dinner again next year.