I've been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving lately.
The love in cooking my great grandmother's congealed cranberry salad, my grandmother's Southern cornbread dressing, my Maderia wine basted bird and my single side of oyster-crawfish dressing just for me. Having too much wine prior to my mom's arrival the years she comes this way. :) The little table tents created some 8 years ago by my kids with handwritten bible verses of thanks and decorated with assorted leaves, that serve as place setting cards to this day. (A little worn, but even more special with each passing year.)
For a few moments I felt sorry for myself because I am not going to be able to indulge in the joy of cooking a feast seeping in tradition and love this year in the comfort of my own kitchen. *Damn cancer.* But with a little more thought, I realize that my most memorable Thanksgiving to date, didn't have those things at all ~ no cranberry salad, no dressing, no Maderia soaked bird, no wine and besides my kiddos and me, no other family close by . . .
Thanksgiving 1997 I found myself newly single and a mom to a three year old and two almost-two year olds. I was hell bent on making it fun and somewhat easy, with just my boys and I. So we decided we would 'duplicate' the first Thanksgiving and pass a GOOD time.
The plan was to have a picnic down on the Concho River, just a couple of blocks from our home. We roasted turkey legs underneath one oven element (the bottom one had given up so that took awhile.) And we roasted other stuff like corn on the cob, sweet potato fries, and maple syrup glazed apples for dessert ~ and packed cubes of cheddar cheese, assorted fruit and a can of whipped cream just for fun. Finger food.
Of course, period appropriate clothing was in order. I gave my boys of a choice of being an Indian or a Pilgrim. And you can only guess what all three of them chose. I painted them up for war (no sissy peaceful Indians at our house) and we created Indian head dresses for each. I was the token Pilgrim with my large construction paper gray hat with a yellow buckle. And at about 3 o'clock (remember the slow cooking with one oven element) on a sunny Thanksgiving afternoon, three hungry little Indian warriors and a mama Pilgrim marched (with an occasional skip or two) a couple of blocks to the banks of the Concho River, our basket full of finger food and four turkey legs, with my biggest little warrior trying to manage carrying an old quilt of my great grandmother's upon which we would have Thanksgiving dinner.
What a sight we must have been.
It was the most precious Thanksgiving Day ever. And with that memory, I am inspired that this year will be just as creative in Temple, Texas. When you get right down to it, Thanksgiving is not about the food and the annual ritual. It's about being with family, whether it's one you were born into or one you've created for yourself, and being so incredibly thankful for them and all of God's blessings, no matter where you might find yourself. Location? That's just geography.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody!