I love family traditions- new ones, old ones, and it all starts this weekend. I grew up with a large extended family that got together every year for the holidays in New York. Thanksgiving Day was usually at our house- I remember my Mom setting out loaves of bread to get stale on top of the refrigerator for stuffing, and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while eating pumpkin bread for breakfast. Being told not to make a mess in the house that morning- it was all cleaned up and waiting for company. Back then I was the potato peeler- and let me tell you, that was alot of potatoes to peel!
Setting out bowls of nuts with a nutcracker, black olives and Mom’s famous onion dip with potato chips. Mom would send us out to find some nice fall leaves and pinecones for a centerpiece (or was that just to get us out of the house?)
The wait for my cousins to arrive was endless- Grandma would always arrive first with her aluminum pots filled with creamed vegetables- creamed onions, creamed spinach and creamed carrots and peas. When she passed away I took a few of those pots, and last year I brought the creamed onions to my sisters house in it. I love that.
Last to arrive would always be my cousins that were my age- I remember calling them to find out when they were coming, and they’d be waiting for Uncle Howie to take a bath. TAKE A BATH?! Come on already, it’s Thanksgiving!
Finally they’d all be there, and the fun would begin. The kids would all be down the basement, having pile ons, playing pinball. Our house was pretty cool, my Dad used to take me and my sister to auctions for old pinball machines and fix them. We had a regular arcade going in the basement. We older cousins would be hanging out in my room, listening to Marshall Tucker or Led Zeppelin music. Usually someone would get to stay and spend the weekend, which never included anything called black Friday. It usually meant going to the movies or roller skating, playing monopoly until late at night. One year my cousin Danny brought us all a stomach virus- one by one we went down with it over the long weekend. It was bad enough I still remember, yuck!
Things have change over the years, but some things remain constant. Now that we’ve moved to Florida, it’s a different crowd. I miss my cousins and we usually talk to them at some point on the phone. It’s still quite a crowd, I think my sister said 25 this year. Now half of them are relatives, and half friends. The more the merrier for the holidays! I bake pumpkin bread and we have it while we watch the parade. I’ve been in charge of pies for the last couple of years, and usually someone sleeps over the night before to help me bake.
I bought a bag of mixed nuts in the supermarket this year, but I don’t think I have a nutcracker. Oh well.
Last night while we were baking the apple pies I found a fossil of a baked potato way in the back of the oven- I had company for dinner last weekend, I must have had too much wine and didn’t count them when they came out. That’s a new one for the story collection of Thanksgiving past!
Most importantly on Thanksgiving no matter who is there or not, there is an overall feeling of welcome and love in the air- the kids are enjoying themselves, running around in a gang, the grownups are all milling around, enjoying drinks and hors douvres, talking about what they brought, plans for the holidays, and the kids. I love being able to share these things with Carlitos, this being part of a family.
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, full of love, laughter, turkey, mashed potatoes, and whatever your family traditions are!