Aunt Eunice here. Halfway through November means Thanksgiving is on the horizon. As I make plans for the holiday I can help, but take some time to think back over the past year. I look at the good, the bad and the ugly and then focus on the good. Some years, as you all know, that can be harder than we’d like it to be. Health, wealth, family, a home, a job are some things that top the list. Being in a comfortable place spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically is quite a blessing. Thanksgiving is of course a time we give thanks for them.
Thanksgiving has been a traditional holiday in the U.S. for a while now. Check here for a timeline. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863. Since this date, Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States. In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a law establishing the day of Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November.
A good deal of my joy in Thanksgiving stems from the fact that so many family members and friends are all under one roof. There is also all the delicious and traditional foods. Our dinner’s food selections have changed since my childhood. Turkey and mashed potatoes with giblet gravy, baked sweet potatoes with oranges, oyster stuffing (a must for my father) and my mother’s homemade cranberry relish. Some years there might also be Gwaltney ham served and always home baked biscuits and pies. As we children got old enough to demand some changes, my cousin Paula’s cheese-ball became a regular appetizer. It of course became know as the Paula Ball. My Aunt Nell began bringing a yummy jello salad that we christened Nello salad. Obvious choice! I asked my mother to make stuffing without those yucky oysters and I began making cornbread with pepper-jack cheese in it. We also introduced green bean casserole to the menu. Old or new, nothing could beat my mother’s pecan pie, a favorite of most! Perfectly gooey with a flaky crust made with lard and a nice layer of whole pecans on top. Probably 500 calories in one small slice. Oh, well.
Now a days new food choices have been added and they have become standards. Mashed turnips in addition to mashed potatoes are served at our house as that is traditional for my daughter-in-law and her brother. We also make a sweet potato casserole using a recipe from the mother-in-law of my oldest daughter which has become everyone’s favorite. We have a turkey that is brined, though not everyone is a fan. Green bean casserole is still retaining its place on the table. Some adjustments have been made to accommodate a number of food allergies and other dietary issues. Four lactose intolerant, three organic only, two gluten free , one diabetic, and a grandson allergic to non-tree nuts! Sound like a song? Hmmm.
The new foods joining into the holiday dinner mimic the blending of new with old taking place in the family tree. Parents, aunts, uncles moving on to that great feast in Heaven, children get married, grandchildren are being born, things changing is sometimes the only thing that stays the same. At least my mother’s pecan pie is still present on the Thanksgiving sideboard!
As this special holiday arrives, even if you are struggling to find something for which to be thankful, know you are being wished the very best. Happy Thanksgiving, folks!!
Take care, Aunt Eunice