Thanksgiving is a day when we traditionally gather with family or friends and enjoy a large meal. The Thanksgivings of my childhood are different than those I have now.
As a child we would travel “up north,” which meant to grandma and grandpa’s house in Traverse City. The men (my dad, uncles, adult cousins) would go deer hunting and then come in from hunting for the meal. The women did the preparations which included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and of course pumpkin pie. I remember my grandmother also having mincemeat pie. I tried it as a child, hated it and have never been able to bring myself to try it again. I don’t even know what is in it, I don’t like the appearance and I remember hating the taste.
When I got married my husband and I would juggle from year to year traveling to either my parent’s home in Eaton Rapids or my in-laws home in Boyne City. At the home of my parents the meal was similar to what I had grown up eating except my mother would have 2-3 fruit pies in addition to the pumpkin, but no mincemeat. The gathering would be my parents, my husband and I with our kids and my sister, her husband and their kids.
When we traveled to my in-laws in Boyne City the size of the gathering could vary greatly depending on how many of the kids were coming home. My husband was one of five and there were eventually 13 grandchildren so the gathering could be quite sizeable. My mother-on-law was a wonderful cook and baker, so the meal had all the traditional foods plus duck, and she always made both the pumpkin and pecan pies.
My introduction to the family was the first Thanksgiving after my husband and I started dating. Quite a few of the family members were home. My father-in-law was at the end of the table and asked to have a roll passed to him. My mother-in-law, who was seated at the opposite end, picked one up out of the basket and threw it to the end of the table. I was shocked. My family was much smaller and never did those type of things. Now don’t get the wrong impression. These were very well mannered people enjoying an informal family setting. It was fun and relaxing whenever they gathered for any holiday or event.
Now I’m the one that does the cooking. Our parents have all passed away, and our children come with our grandchildren to spend Thanksgiving with us, though they only have to travel a mile down the road, not several hours. The meal has the traditional turkey and stuffing, plus mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with pumpkin pie for dessert.
My Thanksgiving meal differs from that of my childhood or those prepared by my mother-in-law. I don’t have a regimented menu. I mix it up a bit from year to year. I don’t do everything from scratch. My pies are generally purchased pre-made, my rolls are sometimes from a mix, sometimes brown and serve. This year my three main side dishes are being prepared in a triple crock pot to keep it simple.
However you do Thanksgiving, I hope it is a happy one. Enjoy time with family and friends. If you are on your own take yourself out to a restaurant and enjoy a traditional meal or look for a soup kitchen to volunteer at. Enjoy the day regardless of whether you are with family and friends or making someone else’s day a bit better for them.