Posted tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

November 23, 2017

Today is a beautiful day, just chilly enough. The sun is bright and sharp. The leaves flutter a bit then the limbs swing back and forth when the breeze becomes a wind. I’m watching the parade.

My sister and I spoke this morning, and we remembered our mother waking up early to get the turkey in the oven. Why it was so early neither one of us remember. While my mother was in the kitchen, we were all sitting in front of the TV watching the parade. The snacks every year were the same: M&M’s, tangerines and mixed nuts. We used a silver set to crack then pick out the nuts. Years ago I bought a set exactly the same. I fill it with nuts and put the bowl, the crackers and the picks on my dining room table. Tangerines were the best as they were so easy to peel. Only seeds marred their perfection. The M&M’s were first to go. My father always went with my grandfather to the football game. It was Stoneham versus Reading. My father had no connection to the high school. He never went there and neither did any of us. It was football which drew him.

When the parade was finished, my dad took over the TV. He watched football until my mother called him to the table. We stayed in the kitchen until we set the table. We had turkey, gravy, sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and another vegetable or two. The cranberry sauce was always the one from the can. The sauce had can ridges which gave it a bit of a decoration. I always wondered why it was called a sauce when the cranberry was jellied. My father ate quickly, all the better to get back to his games. We lingered far more, just sitting and talking. Clean-up didn’t take long. After that were the pies: apple, my dad’s favorite always eaten with a chunk of cheese, blueberry and lemon meringue. By then it was late afternoon. Supper, if we had any room for more food, was leftovers, usually a hot turkey sandwich, the meat bathed in gravy. That meal was the official end of Thanksgiving.

I have so many things to be thankful for a whole day is not enough. I am thankful for family, for the connections between my sisters and me. I have been blessed with the best of friends, my other family, and I am thankful for them. I am also thankful for my Coffee friends. When I started this, I never thought people I hadn’t ever met would become such close friends. Most of all, I am thankful for the joy and wonder of each new day.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”

November 19, 2017

The rain started last night. That just added to the misery. Gracie wanted out every couple of hours. The second time we went out, around three, it was barely raining, but once we were outside, the clouds opened and the rain was heavy. Gracie and I got wet. She didn’t mind as much as I did. When I heard Gracie panting around five, I braced myself but was surprised to find the rain light. It was also quite warm. From then on, we all, Gracie, Maddie and I, slept until 10:30. Gracie was wedged between me and the back of the couch. One of my legs was hanging off the couch. It was then I got up and my morning began.

Sunday is game night, but the game is different tonight because the Patriots play at 4:30 so we’ll watch and cheer on Tom and the boys. My high school team, from the school where I graduated a long time ago and where I worked for 33 years, won big time on Friday. They are 11-0 for the year and have one game left: the state championship, the high school super bowl.

All the cooking shows are giving their slants on Thanksgiving. I save many of the recipes, but when I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, my menu changed little from all the other Thanksgivings we had when I was growing up. To me, Thanksgiving dinner is filled with family traditions. There’s my grandmother’s date nut bread, my Aunt Bunny’s squash dish, my Dad’s favorite creamed onions, my mother’s sage dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. My mother also cooked another couple of vegetable dishes; sometimes it was green bean casserole and one of my favorites, turnips. There were always apple and lemon meringue pies. I was talking to my sister the other night, and she’s making a lemon meringue pie.

When I was driving home the other day, all of a sudden, the image of my Dad at Thanksgiving jumped into my head. My mother’s table was round but somehow where my Dad sat seemed the head of the table. His back was to the kitchen. In from of him on the table was a dish of asparagus just for him, canned asparagus. I remember the spears were like wilted flowers, their tops hung over. He’d fill his plate with mashed potatoes dripping with gravy, creamed onions and a turkey leg. I still can picture him munching on that leg.  It is one of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving.

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”

February 24, 2017

I was shocked when I went to get the newspapers. It was far warmer than I expected. It’s a deck day, a winter deck day. I’m going to finish here and get outside to enjoy the warmth before it disappears.

I am very late because I went to buy Chinese food for lunch. I had a hankering. After Gracie and I got home, I had to eat before my food got cold. It was totally delicious which is a good thing as that Chinese food, now a leftover, will also be my supper.

I have favorite leftovers. My chili is better on the second day so I make it a day ahead. That means, stay with me now, we are eating a leftover, a sort of leftover anyway, the first time I serve it. It is the same with my sausage cacciatore. I figure the tomatoes are what makes the dishes better the second day. They get to meld with everything else overnight. Dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers is almost as good as the original meal.

When I was a kid, a dinner of all the Thanksgiving leftovers was almost as good as the original meal. I know the turkey generally outlasts its welcome and is sometimes greeted with groans of not again, but for a few days after Thanksgiving, the turkey appeared in every meal except breakfast, and we never complained. The turkey sandwich was my favorite. On the toasted bread, I piled turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing. I used mayo.

I made meatloaf a couple of weeks back. I had it with mashed potatoes and peas, my favorite combination. That was my dinner for two nights then the leftover meatloaf became an always delicious sandwich for my lunch. I use mayo.

I know people who won’t eat leftovers. Their reasons are seldom rational. The favorite answer is,”I don’t eat them because I don’t like them.” A why don’t you like them never gets an answer.

I bought dog food yesterday and I also bought 2 boxes of girl scout cookies. A friend at Agway stores the cookies for her daughter. My favorite used to be thin mints, but now I buy tagalongs which are peanut butter and chocolate, known elixirs for what ails us.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

My mother always got up at the crack of dawn to stuff then roast the bird. My sisters and I figure she must have the biggest bird on record to roast it for so long. She’d then be in the kitchen most of the morning peeling and then cooking potatoes and vegetables. We’d be in the living room watching the parade. That never changed even when we were adults. The turkey got smaller and we helped prepare dinner, but we still watched the parade. We added mimosas to the morning and the beginning of the celebration.

My father was glued to the TV and football games. He’d only take a break to carve the turkey and eat dinner. I can still picture him munching on his turkey leg, and I remember his plate always had a mound of mashed potatoes covered in gravy. My dad wasn’t big for a variety of vegetables but he did love his asparagus, always canned, never fresh, and creamed onions. For the rest of us, the table groaned from the number of dishes filled with vegetables. My contribution was sometimes a Waldorf salad, and I always brought date-nut bread, my grandmother’s recipe. After dinner my father returned to football. The rest of us would sit at the table and talk for a while then my mother and I would start the clean-up.

Dessert was served later. My mother usually made pumpkin and lemon meringue pies. I brought apple pie, stacked high. My dad loved dessert. He’d eat his apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese and cover a piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

The evening was quiet. If any of us got hungry, we’d have a hot turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce on the side.

Our Thanksgiving was family, food and football.

 

NOTE: I found Tuesday’s posting. It was in drafts but it didn’t appear when I looked. It is now posted under the picture for Tuesday.

Last night I almost hit a deer. It was crossing the street and was right in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes so hard I skidded a bit sideways. It was the proverbial deer in the headlights for what seemed like forever. The deer, out of fear, lost its footing and was scrambling in front of the car. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the deer got control of its back legs, got up and ran. It took me a while to calm down.

“There are many reasons to celebrate, but National Mustard Day just isn’t one of them.”

November 21, 2016

This morning I got to thinking. Thanksgiving is a day, one single day of family and food. For most of us the menu is the same. Turkey has the most prominent spot on the table. It generally arrives uncut so we can ooh and ah at the beauty of the roasted bird. My dad, at the head of the table, did the carving. He’d fill a platter with slices and then tear off a leg or two to complete the dish. He was the only one who loved a leg. The rest of the meal depends on family traditions though I suspect they’ll be gravy and mashed potatoes on many a Thanksgiving table. We always had a squash and carrot dish which originated with my aunt but was tweaked by my mother who substituted butternut squash, far more seasonable, for the undefined squash in the recipe. That was always the favorite vegetable. My father got his canned asparagus. None of the rest of us ate it. My mother would cook a few more vegetables, sometimes peas, creamed onions and a new dish or two. Cranberry sauce came from the can. One year my mother made a wonderful orange cranberry sauce and served it in oranges. It wasn’t a hit, especially for my father who seldom liked anything new for the holidays. I loved it and was glad it was packed in my doggy bag.

Okay, I majorly digressed. What I was originally thinking was Thanksgiving is a single day, while it is the Christmas season, many days. I know it seems to come earlier each year, but we do have 4 Sundays of Advent, the start of the season for me. During that time there is so much to do and most of it fun. Cookies have to be made, and best of all, they have to be decorated. The house gets decorated. I alternate decorations year by year, but the tree never really changes. New ornaments are added but the usual appear every year. Cards need to be addressed and sent. I love buying Edward Gorey cards and found 2 wonderful sets of them this year. I know people sour on having to buy gifts, but I love shopping for just the right ones. Years ago one of my friends said she loves anticipating what I give her as it is always so neat which is why I love to shop. Just because I’m older (not old, older) doesn’t mean I forget the joys of the season. We decorate gingerbread houses. I play Christmas music and always sing along. I sit in the living room just to look at the tree.

Thursday is close. In the morning I’ll watch the parade, crack nuts, eat a few tangerines and some M&M’s just the way I did when I was a kid. My friends and I are going out for dinner, a new tradition started last year. I’ll probably cook a small turkey so I can have a mini Thanksgiving complete with leftovers. On Friday I’ll let everyone else shop, but on Saturday I’ll finish my list. Saturday night I’ll put my feet up, enjoy some egg nog and a Hallmark movie, and I’ll not wonder how it will end!

“Air, I should explain, becomes wind when it is agitated.”

November 15, 2016

Today I am accomplished. The first load of laundry is in the washer. I finally got tired of walking around the overflowing laundry bags in the hall.

The wind is blowing. When I look out the windows, I see brown leaves falling almost as frequently as snow falls. The weather feels chilly because it is damp. Rain is predicted for today, and the cloudy sky makes it probable. It is getting darker.

Maddie howled again last night. It is from loneliness. When Gracie and I slept downstairs, she slept the whole night. I feel so bad for her and wish she would join Gracie and me upstairs. She knows Gracie won’t chase her as she stands on the couch beside the sleeping dog when she wants to be patted. Gracie doesn’t even notice.

When I was a kid, I never got all that excited about Thanksgiving. There was no countdown like for Christmas. It sort of it just arrived. In school, we colored turkeys and wrote down why were thankful. I always said my mother and father. I was probably thankful for them, but I was even more thankful for knowing what to write down. The short school week was also a blessing but not one I mentioned.

Even though every week was the same when I was a kid, except for holidays, of course,  I never really tired of the day to day. I ate the same breakfast every morning unless it was so cold my mother felt the need to make oatmeal to insulate us for the walk to school. We walked the same route to school every day. It didn’t take us long, maybe 20 minutes or so. On cold days we walked a whole lot faster both to keep warm and to get to school sooner.

I remember walking backward against the wind on days like today. My clothes would sometimes billow, especially my skirt. Every now and then I did need peeks to make sure I was walking straight on the sidewalk and to know to face the front when I reached the curb to cross.

I need the lamp lit to keep the darkness away. It was the same when I was a kid. I was never afraid of the dark, but it wasn’t good for reading, my favorite pastime when I couldn’t go out to play after school. I remember lying in bed, comfy and cozy, with the lamp lit behind and above me and an open book in my hands. It felt perfect, almost like paradise.

“I’m thankful for every moment.”

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving is the least adorned holiday of them all. We don’t buy each other presents or decorate the house. There are no new outfits in spring colors. The highlight of the day is dinner and being together around the table as a family related by blood or friendship. Of all the holidays, it is the one in which we share so much in common. Traditional dishes unique to each family are served but so are turkey and mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy and all those pies. It is the time for us to remember the people we love who are no longer with us and to appreciate the ones who are. We give thanks for the good in our lives, the food on our tables and the glory of every day. We talk together and laugh together at dinner. We pass the rolls, the green bean casserole and the canned cranberry sauce with the ribbing. We eat until we can eat no more, but we leave plenty of leftovers. They are one of the best parts of thanksgiving. We finish by doing some cleaning up then relaxing in the living room until we have some room for dessert.

On Thanksgiving my sisters, who live far away, and I are connected not just by family but also by tradition: by my mother’s squash dish, a recipe she got from her sister, which was on our Thanksgiving table very year. It was passed to us and now had passed to a third generation. My mother’s recipe for stuffing fills all our turkeys. As for the pies: my mother made apple pie for my father. He always ate it with a slab of cheddar. The Lemon meringue was my favorite. Blueberry rounded out the pie selection.

I have baked my traditional offering: a chocolate cream pie, requested every year. Coincidentally my sister made one. It is not uncommon we are in the same wave length.

This morning I will watch the parade, the same as I have done as long I can remember. I’ll talk to my sisters to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. I won’t dress fancy for Thanksgiving, none of us really do. I’ll sit with my friends and enjoy every part of the day. I am thankful for the life I have been lucky enough to live, for the people I love and the people who love me. 

I am thankful for all of you, my Coffee family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!!!”

January 17, 2013

Yesterday it poured all day, but off-Cape had snow so I’m not complaining. Miss Gracie and I did a dump run, and I didn’t even bother to change out of my flannel pants and sweat shirt. The dump was pretty empty in the rain.

The mouse count is now 14. Two got caught yesterday: one in the plastic trap and one in the have-a-heart. I have a story. The one in the plastic trap was making so much noise scratching and banging that it woke me up. I wanted to sleep in peace so I decided, despite the dark and the rain, to take it outside. I walked across the street, my usual deportation spot, and was about to open the trap when I heard, “Hello.” I just about jumped out of my skin. I turned around and all I saw was a light, not a flashlight but a bigger light. “Who is it?” I asked. “Billy,” was the answer. It was my neighbor carrying the light, an umbrella and a huge cup of steaming coffee. He was walking Cody, his dog. I asked the time. It was six o’clock. He wanted to know why I was in the rain, in the dark at six o’clock. I told him about my mice. He said he was sorry.

When I was a kid, I never did see much wildlife where I lived, maybe a skunk or two but that was about it. We saw cows at the farm and animals at the zoo but nothing exciting in the woods. Here on the Cape I’ve seen deer, rabbits, foxes, wild turkeys, coyotes and the common skunks, raccoons and ugly opossums, though that last one is redundant. I didn’t mention the spawns on purpose. The coyotes are common but usually at night or early morning. I used to see them on my way to work. They all looked healthy. I know one is around here when the rabbits disappear and when I can hear the horrible screams of the prey when the coyotes hunt. I never worried about Gracie as she is too big to interest a coyote. A friend once saw a coyote dragging her small dog by its hind quarters trying to take it. The dog was crying and scratching the ground in an attempt to get some traction to run. My friend saved her dog who only had a few bite marks. Another friend’s dog, another small dog, was attached to an overhead line in the backyard. The coyote grabbed the dog in its mouth and ran. When they got to the end of the line, the dog popped right out of the coyote’s mouth and was saved. The wild turkeys are the most fun to watch. They travel in fairly large groups, fluff their tail feathers as they run and make all sorts of noises. They’re now pretty common, but the first time I saw them I stopped my car to watch.

Wild turkeys can fly unlike the ones on WKRP in Cincinnati, a program I used to love. I’ll never forget the program entitled Turkeys Away. In a Thanksgiving promotion the station decided to give away turkeys and to drop them from a helicopter.

“It’s a helicopter, and it’s coming this way. It’s flying something behind it, I can’t quite make it out, it’s a large banner and it says, uh – Happy… Thaaaaanksss… giving! … From … W … K … R… P!! No parachutes yet. Can’t be skydivers… I can’t tell just yet what they are, but – Oh my God, Johnny, they’re turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they’re plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, the humanity! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Not since the Hindenburg tragedy has there been anything like this!”

 

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”

November 22, 2012


Thanksgiving

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway —
Thanksgiving comes again!

~~Old Rhyme.~~

Thanksgiving morning my mother woke up very early. She’d make the stuffing, always a sage stuffing, fill the turkey and get it into the oven. Her pan was in a huge oval shape and had a cover, but I don’t remember my mother ever using that cover. The pan was blue with tiny white spots on it, and my mother cooked her turkey in that same pan every year. Now and then my mother would open the oven to baste the turkey with its own pan juices. I remember the whole house was filled with the aroma of that roasting turkey. I can still see the kitchen windows covered in steam.

We’d be in the living room watching the parade and eating the snacks my mother always put out for us. I remember the bowl of mixed nuts, the silver nutcrackers and the silver picks. There were tangerines, and there were M&M’s. They were always  special on Thanksgiving.

I wish all of you the most wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”

August 10, 2012

The morning is dark and humid with thunder and lightning storms possible tonight and tomorrow. Everything is still and quiet. Today is a favorite sort of morning. From the deck, I can even smell the ocean.

I clip recipes from newspapers, magazines and even grocery flyers. I keep them in a folder bursting at the seams. Periodically, while watching TV, I go through the folder looking for something new to try. I make piles of the possibles: appetizers, meats, sides and desserts. This summer I’ve tried different appetizers and just about every one of them was a keeper. It’s fun for me to read the ingredients and imagine how the food will taste and how well dishes will go together. I’m going to be working on movie night’s dinner today.

While growing up I was never interested in anything having to do with cooking or sewing or any sort of handwork like knitting or crocheting, and my ineptitude was of little concern or consequence. My mother did it for me; however, that changed when I got to college. I had to be inventive. I learned solutions for all sorts of problems. Lose a button? Use a stapler. A hem falling? Use tape. Need to make dinner? Open a can, and I was not alone in a total lack of housewifery skills. My friends shared the same ineptitudes as I did and none of us really cared.

The first time I ever did any real baking was at Christmas time in Ghana. I made cookies. They were delicious so I expected a parade celebrating my new skill, but, alas, there wasn’t one. I had to be content with eating and sharing the cookies. The next year I even made pies for Thanksgiving, paw paw pies. I made my own crust for the very first time and rolled it out using a beer bottle, a Star beer bottle, a make-do innovation. The pies were delicious. I was hooked on baking. It seemed I had a hidden talent now brought to light by circumstances like no super-market.

It’s been a long time since then, and I have honed my cooking and baking skills. I can make almost anything and make it well. I love trying new recipes and have enough confidence to make them for company. As for the other housewifery skills, I still need a stapler and tape for those unexpected sewing problems. They’re in my sewing basket, my very large sewing basket.