Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Holidays Are Upon Us

Thanksgiving is over for both the U.S. and Canada, which means that the holiday season is officially off and running. My husband and I had our traditional vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner with a friend who has no family locally and doesn't object to eating Quorn turkey roast. We have been doing this for years. It has become our ritual. for the past many years, our Christmas ritual entails a giant brunch with another friend who invites several family-deprived persons over to her house on Christmas morning. We are happy with the holiday traditions we have developed over the last quarter-century.

But it was not always thus.

Every family has its holiday traditions, and it is always a wrench the first time you are separated from your ancestral table and are forced to eat something that your mother or grandmother would NEVER have served. But even in your old age, you look back with fondness on the Thanksgivings and Christmases that you had at grandma's house, and all others pale in comparison.

Of course I'm not talking about the Christmas or Hanukkah where your uncle and brother-in-law got into a fistfight over politics or the Thanksgiving when grandma was too drunk to finish the turkey and the kid had an allergic reaction to the sweet potatoes.

I'm talking about the many Thanksgivings and Christmas dinners I had at Grandma Casey's house. The ones where she started cooking the turkey the day before, and when the hour came to eat, the bird had practically fallen off the bone. My aunt always brought a Jello salad, which was really a casserole dish full of diced apples and pecan halves with just enough red Jello to hold it together. The stuffing was really stuffed in the bird, but no one died of salmonella. Grandma put something different and interesting in the stuffing every year. She liked oysters, which tasted like rubber bands to me. I really liked the roasted chestnuts, though, and the years she used walnuts or pecans. Oh, and in Boynton, Oklahoma, the dressing is always made of pure cornbread. No soggy wheat bread for us.

And it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the pies. My mother always made a pecan pie (lots of native pecans in eastern Oklahoma.), always a fruit pie, and a couple of pumpkin, naturally. Pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream. I do mean lots.

My late cousin Craig is the one who began the more-whipped-cream-than-pie ritual in my family. It didn't take too many years before it became tradition to always serve the pie in a bowl, the better to hold the cream. So here's to you, Craig, and to all the family rituals that we simply cannot do without. It wouldn't be the holidays without them.


Unknown said...

Pie in a bowl! I love it! May I come to your dinner next year? In the far north our usual holiday meal was moose or grouse. One year there was no game so we had beans. Pumpkin pie, however, was always a given: pumpkin from a can, of course. If we put all our holiday food memories into a virtual pinata and gave it a whack, what marvelous goodies would come showering out!

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Oh, your Grandma Casey sounded a very adventurous cook! What fun festive meals! Here in our house in Edinburgh, I make the Xmas meal much as my mum did: Turkey plus all trimmings, Xmas pudding and/or the Xmas cake and Xmas crackers and paper hats. Everyone helps with the preparation and it's a lovely family day - its a thing to go for a walk while the turkey is cooking. I don't put "silver sixpences" in the pudding any more though – I became too worried someone would choke on one. When I think of Xmas, I especially think of my mum. She went to such lot of trouble to make the day special.