The Thanksgiving Torch

fannie   (This picture was taken of my paternal great-grandmother, Mary Francis Ruth Campbell and several of her children.)

There’s nothing better than spending a holiday spent with family, food, and remembering to thank God who is the giver of all good things!  I try to never take for granted just how blessed I have been!

In my 31 years of marriage, this will be the third time I have been in charge of the Thanksgiving feast.  Many years ago, we decided to stay home every Christmas and begin our own family traditions with our children.  However, Thanksgiving was the holiday where we traveled to see my family in Missouri or my in-laws in West Virginia.  When I think about the food, I think of my mother-in-law’s absolutely beautiful pies, my mother’s mashed potatoes that were nearly a foot high in a serving dish, everyone stealing a deviled egg before dinner time, and my sister’s delicious side dishes.

KyraMy great-niece is ready to dive into those potatoes!

But time passes and families change.  My parents have now both passed away.  My father-in-law has now passed away and my mother-in-law moved from her home of 50 years to live with her daughter.  My only sister moved 4 hours farther away (which makes it now a 11-12 hour drive).  So the torch has been passed to me.  I would love to be spending time to be cooking with and for a house full of extended relatives, but that is not to be.

There is so much more to food than just sustenance or even enjoyment.  Like smells, food evokes memories and can transport us to different times and places in our lives.  We associate a particular dish with the one who first introduced it to us or the one who made it the best.  I will always remember how my mom made my favorite fried chicken and potato salad on the first night of every visit to her house.  I will always associate banana bread and macaroni salad with my mother-in-law who introduced those recipes to me.

I remember my mother talk of how she loved to come home from school on Tuesdays which was her mother’s “baking” day.  With 11 children, there was plenty to be done!  She recounted how her mother made ridiculous quantities of chicken & dumplings, cinnamon rolls, and fruit cobblers to feed her brood.  Those stories were shared with great affection and admiration for the work and the love that went into the preparation.

IreneMy maternal grandmother Irene Campbell with 10 of her 11 children, plus a couple of sons in law and grandchild (in back).  There would still be one more son born to them.   My mom is on the right side in front by her mother.

I want to pass down food memories to my children.  I want them to remember how every year I asked them for their Thanksgiving and Christmas food requests and fulfilled every one, even if that means I end up with 20 (yes, your heard correctly) dishes on the table.  I want them to remember the “Easter Feaster”, Christmas Eve “Appetizer Buffet” and of course the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.  I also want them to remember coming in the door on a wintry night to the smell of a loaf of bread baking  or a pot of potato cheesy soup simmering on the stove. Buffet

Here I am working on the “Appetizer Buffet” in 2006.

One day (much sooner than later), I will pass the torch to my children.  It is my hope that they pick it up and pass it on to their children with all the love that was passed from their great-grandmothers, to their grandmothers, and then to me.

Yes, God has blessed me beyond measure!  Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

PS.  Here is what will be on my Thanksgiving table this year!

  1. Turkey
  2. Dressing (2 different kinds)
  3. Noodles
  4. Mashed Potatoes
  5. Gravy
  6. Applesauce
  7. Sweet Potato Casserole
  8. Deviled Eggs
  9. Cranberry Salad
  10. Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad
  11. Cherry Salad
  12. Fresh Green Bean Casserole
  13. Corn
  14. Best Broccoli Rice Casserole
  15. Golden Macaroni and Cheese
  16. Homemade Rolls
  17. Toll House Pie
  18. Pumpkin Pie
  19. German Chocolate Cheesecake