Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
This is the Thanksgiving song I learned as a little kid. There are other verses which drifted away over time. I’m pretty sure I always sang it as Grandmother’s house, which is weird since we actually went to my Grandfather’s house for holidays. The whole song was weird to me when I think about it. We certainly never had any snow and therefore no horse drawn sleigh to ride through it. But I imagined it pretty clearly, all bundled up in a brightly painted (red) sleigh, the horses wearing bells which jingled as they stepped through the sparkling snow. I can still picture it in my mind.
But my Thanksgiving has never been celebrated in that way. The day starts/started with my mother or me or now my daughter getting up and stuffing the bird and getting it into the oven. If they ever stop making Pepperidge Farm stuffing or Jimmy Dean sausage we will be one VERY unhappy family as they are the 2 key ingredients to our stuffing. Other dishes are started as the day progresses. As people have joined the family it seems that the number of carb dishes has risen significantly. First it was just stuffing and dinner rolls. Then my daughter required mashed potatoes. My sister-in-law requires rice and now my son-in-law requires macaroni and cheese. By end of the day we all suffer from carb coma.
As the early cooking is going on, we watch Miracle on 34th Street, a movie about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The original one, in black and white, with Maureen O’Hara and Edmund Gwenn. We still watch in horror as they try to prove that Kris Kringle is not the real Santa Claus and applaud when he is declared so by the United States Postal Service. We follow this by watching the actual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Final cooking picks up as some football game is turned on (clearly I am not a football person). Then midday (somewhere in the 2 to 4 range) we eat! My essentials are turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and string beans. As long as I have those things I am good. Which is not to say that I don’t taste other dishes. I do. More importantly, I over do.
We try to make the dinner last a fair amount of time, since it takes so long to prepare. So we linger at the table, talking and teasing and laughing. Hopefully extended family is with us or we are with them and for a while we all stop driving each other crazy to enjoy good food and wine and conversation. After we slip into the above mentioned coma, we slink into the family room to “watch” another game. Sometimes there is snoring.
The evening is filled by watching White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kay. I love the songs, I love the dances, I love the costumes, I love Danny Kay! My nieces, my daughter and I sing all the songs, loudly, to the annoyance of my brother and son-in-law. My sister-in-law is neutral. We all laugh when Bing and Danny lip-synch to the song “Sisters” (as we sing with them). And then I finish my day of eating with Pumpkin Chiffon Pie – a light and fluffy spin on the traditional variety, topped with real whipped cream while sipping some warm tea.
It is always a day I am thankful for.
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