Sunday, November 23, 2014

Leftovers to savor

Betty's baked beans. Aunt Welma's butterscotch pudding. Mom's roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pies. Food filled the counter tops. Aunt Bess was a fantastic cook and worked side by side with Mom. My job each Thanksgiving was to tear toast into small pieces. Mom did not buy croutons. She put her youngest next to the toaster with a full loaf an bread and set her to work. The big, white dishpan slowly filled with toasted pieces of bread doomed to be devoured. Mom boiled giblets and chopped onion, adding them to the toast. She broke an egg into the bread mixture then chopped the giblets and bits of chicken tossing them in, too. Next she added enough broth to the stuffing, or dressing as we called it, to make it very moist. When the Loxley girls got older, we tossed in some chopped mushrooms. The dressing we remember still. Leftovers to savor.

Favorite memories of Thanksgiving always seem to focus around the food. When I was older and had my own family, I hesitated to go away from home for that big meal for very selfish reasons. I wanted the leftovers. Cold dressing and chicken sandwiches, leftover pumpkin pie and mounds of my special mashed potatoes. In fact, I think perhaps the leftovers were better than the meal. With leftovers, I savor every bite.

The meal around the table. A puzzle in the living room. The men watching football or talking in the kitchen. The activities of the day seemed to hinge on the refrigerator door. Kids played pool or ping pong in the basement while babies played in the toy box. Thanksgivings over the years back the lane on Neff Road.

As time passed, so too did the traditions. The family scattered and many family members had passed. The traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas changed. Children stayed home to have their own holiday celebrations with their families. Mom and Dad celebrated with Junior Shuff at their table. They were not ones to visit their children on holidays. I learned a lot from that. I decided that I would be with my children in any way possible rather than sit at home where old memories pulled at my heart. I would enjoy new holidays, watching new memories take shape. My special mashed potatoes are still on the table. Sometimes cousin Betty's baked beans appear. The pumpkin pie has changed to the family pumpkin cake. The old blended with the new.

Someday I will cook all the foods I miss from my childhood. I will stand next to the toaster, remembering a little girl whose small hands tore the bread into bit-sized pieces. I will look forward to leftovers the next day...and probably the next day after that. I am thankful for those Thanksgivings from the past and those that have been added with my children. I am thankful for being raised on a farm where most of the meal came from that place back the lane. And, I am thankful for you, my readers. May God bless your Thanksgiving. May peace come to those of you who find this time of the year difficult. May your day of thankfulness be filled with laughter and love. Happy Thanksgiving.

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