This would be my peeps, as in people now and then around me for Thanksgiving. Without further ado (I have cooking to get to), let’s dive in!
The old old days
The maternal side of the family has longevity issues. This is a rare discussion between my sister and me, as we wonder which genes we have more of, but there it is.
My maternal Grandma died before I was born. My Grandpa from that side died when I was in college. And my Mom died way too young a little over a decade ago.
But we did get some Thanksgiving dinners, along with plenty of other holiday time and those memories are forever.
Mom was an excellent cook (and baker, too, as my annual birthday strawberry shortcakes can attest). Because of that, we had awesome spreads of food for Thanksgiving. Multiple meats. Multiple multiple veggies. Multiple different types of potatoes.
And of course, multiple desserts. It’s probably where I learned to overcook for all my BBQ’s and holiday parties.
It’s tough to pin down a “specialty” of Mom’s. I just recall liking everything (even the candied yams). I fondly recall the crunchy green bean casserole. Sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. Awesome stuffing and thick gravy – with mushrooms!
Those were special times. Just as special, though, were those last couple of Thanksgiving, after the diagnosis. By that time, I had a little personal prosperity and paid for prepared dinners, but there is not enough money in existence to value those final holiday memories.
Grams and Gramps
On the paternal side, we had the classic battling duo. Not with each other, but Father Time. In the end, Gramps would go at 91 and Grams at 98, but the Grim Reaper surely knew he was in a tussle with those two.
Grams had a specialty. I’ve mentioned it here before. I mention it to anyone who I mention her to and I mention it many times over. Grams made the best soup.
What was in the soup remains a hot topic of family discussion for…what would it be now…the last 40 years? She never said exactly what she put in the soup, but it was pretty much “anything that was handy”. It had a rich dill broth base and yet also had hints of chicken and/or the rest of the kitchen.
She would also throw in some marrow bones. I don’t know if anyone cooks with these anymore (or remembers them), but these bones still contained marrow and afterwards, provided great gnawing enjoyment for our dog.
Of course, being a Jewish Grandma, the table was overstuffed with food. As I was a skinny lad back then, Grandma spent most of the time off one shoulder of mine or the other, trying to shovel more food on my plate. Grandpa would gruffly call out, “Sophie, leave the boy alone!”, but, like most of his guff, she just ignored him and kept shoveling. I must assume my fast metabolism is the only reason I’m not on Weight Watchers today.
The later years
We had a period where no one was having Thanksgiving dinners. Mom was gone. Grams was gone. My Stepmom was from Europe, so the underpinnings of Thanksgiving weren’t as ingrained.
During that time, my friends decided I was lonely. I don’t think I was, but I did miss family holiday dinners. In any case, with nowhere else to go, I agreed to the invites.
The traveling dude
Yes, I said invites.
As much as I was flattered and warmed by my friends’ concern for me, their interest created a massive guilt trip. In order to partially assuage this (and them) I began a process of going to one friend’s home for a while and then heading out to catch the dessert portion at another’s friend’s home.
This had a surprising benefit – I could never stay at any one home long enough to wear out my welcome. I’m sure I must have seemed like a much more acceptable friend during this period.
It’s also where I began the tradition of different cooking items for different peeps.
Return of the family
For the last several years, my Sister has reinstated Thanksgiving dinners. Having two daughters probably made this seem more natural now. Of course, with both nieces working this Thanksgiving (sheesh!), I’m not going to see them today. On the other hand, a surprise acceptance by my Dad and Stepmom means I get to pick them up and bring them with me.
That’s the first time in a long time they’ve agreed to attend a holiday dinner. Perhaps my Halloween BBQ, where everyone from the family was actually in attendance, made them a bit more sentimental for family get togethers.
In any case, I’ll be whipping up two loads of mac & cheese for the dinner (my youngest niece – the vegetarian – has already put in a request for me to “save a big piece” for her).
However, this year, the timing is just not right to visit some friends for their Thanksgiving feast. With them eating at the same time we are and with me still having to bring back my Dad and Stepmom, it looks like no visit to them later in the day.
While that saves on hectic running around, now I have no reason to cook up my noodle kugel! Nobody is going to say thanks about that loss!
Let me end my holiday ramblings with this message to all you peeps: take a second of your hopefully treasured holiday get together and think on this – everyone, democrat, republican, north, south, left and right all look to do the same thing on Thanksgiving, have a happy and healthy time with the family and friends they love.
If nothing else, we all share this same thing in common. Remember that when the day is past and politics or whatever heats up once again.
Happy Thanksgiving all!