I had a long drive into my office today, due to the first seasonal weather (read: a bit of snow, ice, rural roads, and drivers who were taking it easy). I put in a full day working, and only returning home thought much about Thanksgiving. (To be sure, some thoughtful folks at the office make sure to wish us Yankees Happy Thanksgiving, but somehow it’s not the same as having a day off . . .)
But now, in the solitude of our home, I can reflect on Thanksgivings past. Before I moved to Canada, my daughter & I lived in Baltimore, in a grand old rowhouse. It was the site for several years of Thanksgiving celebrations, about the only time of the year that I really cooked and baked. My mother, daughter, family & friends were amused. What a feast!
Looming large in these productions was my Mom. She’d come up a day or 2 early, often bringing her home-baked whole wheat raisin bread. But unlike other visits where she’d bring all the food we’d need for the duration of her stay, at Thanksgiving she knew that she needn’t bring much. I’d try to take off 1/2 day on Wednesday, and would start to make salads and pies. Mom would ask how she could help, but as it was MY show, I wouldn’t let her do much – perhaps chop some onion, or clean some lettuce. But there was one thing that made it so much easier: she was my clean-up crew. As soon as I used a measuring cup, a spoon, a spatula, a bowl, a pot, Mom washed it and it was ready for its next use.
I think she got a kick out of her decidedly un-domestic daughter making pie crust (which she always complimented, I think sincerely), trying to do a lattice top of a cherry pie, preparing 7-layer salad, custard, stuffing. She loved the fact that we’d use good china and silver, and she’d always iron the linen tablecloth and napkins.
At some point, generally later than we’d anticipated, we’d sit down to a wonderful meal. But as family & friends seemed to come & go throughout the late afternoon/evening, after the initial serving, other rounds would be served. Then came the divying-up leftovers for my sister and my nephews.
The gathering rarely lasted late. By the time most of the company left, the kitchen was in good shape (my sister always took the lead in cleaning up after the meal).
Mom loved seeing her family together. It pleased her so have my sister, her sons, their respective significant others, my daughter all sitting around a table talking of what we were up to in our lives. Mom loved entertaining, and enjoyed my friends, as well. Those Thanksgivings created such sweet memories for me.
I missed being able to talk to Mom today, and to make her laugh by singing her the goofy Thanksgiving song that I’d sung to her every year since kindergarten. On the other hand, on this Thanksgiving Day, I’m so grateful for all the Thanksgivings that we did share.