All I need for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner is turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce. My Dear Husband makes a delectable, moist turkey! He took over the job from my father. Some day we expect one of the sons-in-law to take it over from DH. I make the dressing and the fresh cranberry sauce. Both are now as good as my mother’s were, if I do say so myself. :) All the other foods that cram themselves onto our table the third Thursday in November are there because someone else needs them or wants to make them. More about this later. (Called a tease. :) )
I’ve never written a strictly holiday book, but I should probably take a stab at it. Holidays play a big role in VERMONT ESCAPE, my first book released by MIU in July 2013. My heroine compares a Fourth of July in Woodstock, VT to the celebration in Texas. They are similar in fireworks displays, but they take place in such different temperatures they could be on different planets!
Then there’s a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the Woodstock Inn she shares with her grown children, and Christmas dinner at the home of the hero’s mother with all the family and friends gathered around. And of course, beautiful, soft, quiet flakes of snow falling gently from the grey skies. The scent of fireplaces and fresh pine greenery feel the air. Just lovely.
TRUTH BE TOLD, my second book coming out from MIU Spring/Summer 2014 is set in Fort Worth. The majority of the story takes place during the two weeks of Christmas and New Year’s. I’ve lived over forty years in Fort Worth. We’ve had snow on Christmas Eve only two times, and it’s always gone by mid-afternoon. But I love snow and since it’s my book, I had it snow on Christmas Eve. What fun writing those scenes. :)
Now I mentioned a teaser above. Every family member has a food they must eat to make it a memorable Thanksgiving meal. Both sons-in-law think we need to have mac and cheese! What’s with that? We’ve already got dressing (Not the cornbread kind. Please!) with chestnuts that are the hardest thing in the world to crack. None of the different ways I’ve tried for shelling are very efficient. But my parents put chestnuts in the dressing, and I think they need to be there.
Somebody wants sweet potatoes. Back in the day, a great aunt made those. Now we use a recipe from my mother’s Georgia niece. My older daughter makes it using fresh sweet potatoes. Somebody else insists we have mashed potatoes. By my count now we’ve got four starches! Yikes. Plus rolls! Mother never served a special meal without rolls!
My younger daughter remembers me making green bean casserole when they were little, so she’s taken over responsibility for this dish.
Mother always made coleslaw. I think this was her effort to have something relatively healthy to counteract all the starches. However, we make it with real mayo, and add a bit of sugar, a tad of S & P, a couple of drops of vinegar, and a drop or so of milk to get the right consistency. Oh, and celery seeds. A must have. Notice I gave no measurements for this. She just threw it all together in a mayo jar, shook it up, and tasted, so that’s what I do. :)
One special great aunt always brought sausage balls and “Christmas Munch” as snacks before the meal. The older daughter has picked up making sure we have those. DH is very grateful! Our younger daughter makes fake sausage balls because she doesn’t eat meat. Actually, these are pretty good. :)
And finally, we get to dessert! Pumpkin pie, of course. My mother’s was the best. I took this over when she was no longer able to cook. It’s funny. I follow the exact recipe, and I say just what she always did. “I don’t think this is as good as last year’s.” We have high expectations for pumpkin pie in my family. LOL
And then the year arrived when all our family but Auntie had passed on. Both girls were going to their in-laws for Thanksgiving. The first time we’d be without them. My husband and I drove over to Dallas and took Auntie to her favorite cafeteria. The food was good, and I discovered lots of people eat out that day. Who knew? Good friends asked us to join them and their family when we returned. It was lovely. My friend had recently redone her dining room. (Not the picture above!) She had a fantastic table that easily sat fourteen. You could’ve expected to see photographs of the room in one of the home decorating magazines. Perfect setting, great friends, and good food, but it wasn’t our food.
And that’s why we serve so many different items at Thanksgiving. Everyone needs to eat for this one holiday whatever it is that tells them they are loved and with family—however that family is defined.
What are the couple of things you must have for it to be the perfect Thanksgiving meal? Care to share a recipe? I'd love to hear from you. Belated Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian friends who've already celebrated my favorite holiday.
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