Thanksgiving, for me, is almost just as wonderful as Christmas because I had a grandmother who was blessed with the ability to cook a meal that would make your eyes close with your first bite of anything on your plate. She was born in 1902, the daughter of German immigrants, and one of nine children. And more than anything else I remember about her is that she made the most wonderful food I think I will ever taste in my life.
My grandparents lived just a couple of miles away, so once a week she would make supper for our family, which my dad would pick up after work and bring home. One week it would be meatloaf, another week it was spaghetti and meatballs, Chinese chow mein, pot roast with carrots and potatoes, roasted chicken . . . the list goes on. And with every meal she would include her sides of cheesy cauliflower, home grown lima beans, homegrown green bean casserole, peas and onions. She is the reason why I love vegetables. When my grandmother cooked them, she made them taste like candy to me. I always looked forward to Thursday night “Grandma supper”, complete with dessert like angel food cake with icing or blueberry pie.
But Thanksgiving . . . oh, Thanksgiving. It was a day I couldn’t wait for. My family of four would make the five-minute drive to my grandparents' house Thanksgiving morning and arrive just in time to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while my mom donned an apron to help my grandma in the kitchen. The moment we walked into the house Thanksgiving morning, we were met with the wonderful smells of all foods Thanksgiving. And every single thing was made from scratchm from the bread stuffing inside the turkey to the dinner rolls. I wouldn’t be surprised if she churned her own butter–it was that good–except they didn’t have a cow. And she made it seem effortless. She was always happy–happy to be cooking for all of us because it was what she loved to do. Happy to have her family around her enjoying her food and enjoying each other.
If I close my eyes, I can still see my dad in the kitchen, swiping pieces of turkey from the platter while my grandma was carving it. I can see the beautiful dining room with sunlight streaming in from the windows while we ate. I can smell how the house smelled. I can still feel how happy everyone was.
After dinner, we would play lots and lots of games, watch football, and take naps. When it started to get dark, my grandma would pack up leftovers in a big tub for us to take home and eat before we went to bed.
I don’t think I ever told my grandmother how much I appreciated her and how she gave me her love for cooking . . . the right way. Somehow, I feel like she knows. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my memories and the inspiration they give me to carry on the tradition of cooking a beautiful meal with love and care for those I love and care for the most. Thank you, Grandma. You made an impression.
Here is a photo from her handwritten recipe book, which I cherish.