Thanksgiving Traditions

If your home looks like mine, colorful fall leaves have found their way to every room of the house, my one annual, frivolous expense, a yummy smelling pumpkin spice candle is more than half-way used up by now, and the hall closet has been ransacked by kids hurrying to find a jacket to take to school on unexpectedly chilly mornings.  I love it!

With Thanksgiving next week, I am scouring Pinterest and my familiar cookbooks to decide what to make for “the dinner.”  We share this holiday with extended family, and it’s just so fun to have everyone bring their family’s favorite dishes to share.

One dish that represents our clan is pie.  No, I’m not a great pie maker.  I’m not sure I’m even a good pie maker, but the story behind this pie is what has made it a family tradition.

Several years ago, I was in the kitchen, with the other women folk in the family, and we were cooking up a storm.  Every burner was hot, the oven was roasting, and every last inch of counter space filled was with cutting boards, knives, vegetables – you name it.  I was totally in my element.

In the background, the Macy’s Day Parade played with my husband and kids narrating every float so I could run into the family room to see our favorites.  The sun was bright, the air crisp, and Thanksgiving smells filled every room.

While I was busy chopping, dicing and slicing, my firstborn, barely double-digits, walked into the kitchen.  He came over to me and said, Can we bake something?

Um, huh? I thought as the menu was set and every minute leading up to the glutton-fest was allocated for demanding recipes already in progress.

A bit confused, I asked him, Like what, Honey?

I was thinking pie.

Pie? I asked.  I don’t really know how to make a good pie.

I’m sure we can find a recipe, or just make one up, he insisted.

Hmm.  I’m not sure we even have the ingredients and the grocery store is closed now, I answered while stirring pots and checking oven thermometers and whisking and blending and chopping.

I love to cook with my kids.  But, now?  It had to be right now?  I was obviously a little busy at the moment.

How about an apple pie? he suggested.

Welll, um, I began.  At that moment, my mommy’s eyes caught his gorgeous hazel eyes and I saw the sincerity in his request.  He wasn’t asking to make more food to eat.  He was asking to be a part of what I was doing.  He wanted time with me.  He wanted to do something special with me on Thanksgiving.

I gazed at his tenderness and saw just how young he still was, and the longer I looked at him, the more I realized my children won’t be little forever.

I put my cutting knife down, rested my hands on his shoulders, and said, You bet.  Let’s bake an apple pie!

He got so excited, but I didn’t know where to begin.  Putting everything on simmer, I abandoned my cooking projects for time with my son.

We combed through The Joy of Cooking cookbook and found a basic pie crust recipe.  Everything we made had to be scratch because stores were closed.  I am so glad they were, because otherwise I never would have know what an awesome pastry crust maker my son is!  He kneads that dough until you can almost see your reflection!  I am way too impatient to stand there and work it, but he loves it.

We found 2 apples, but a decent pie really needs at least 4, so we found out in our quest.  Thinking hard for something else we could add, I remembered my mother-in-law made a grape pie once that was really good!  I never would have thought of using grapes in a cooked pie, but it was delicious.

My son foraged through the refrigerator and sure enough we had exactly 2 cups of grapes. Perfect.

We assembled the apple & grape pie, and with a little leftover pastry dough we cut out a single turkey shape using a cookie cutter and placed it on top of the crust.

The Great Turkey Pie was born!

Not only was it delicious, but we had the time of our lives making it together.

Holidays can quickly become a nightmare when the stress of expectations steals our joy and the true meaning of the season is buried under futile projects (many of them self-imposed).  For that Thanksgiving, and every one since, I am truly thankful I have children who want to be with me, do fun things together, and aren’t afraid to ask and not assume Mom is too busy.

I never want to be too busy for my kids – especially on the holidays.

Every year when my son and I make this special pie together, it is time I so look forward to, because he’s getting older.  I want to make life promise me that he and I will always make this pie together, perhaps even with his children helping us one day, but life won’t make that promise.

What I do have is this Thanksgiving, Lord willing.  Whatever else is swirling around on the holidays, The Great Turkey Pie is my reminder to love, cherish and enjoy my family right now.  Here’s the irony – I have no idea what all of the other food I made was now!  All that hard work with no memory now whatsoever!  The perfect turkey or impressive side dishes, cute homemade place cards or a magazine-worthy table setting doesn’t come near to equating making memories with my family.

Yeah, I’d love to have a table and trimmings that look like something out of Pottery Barn or Sur La Table.  But, I’ll take committing to fewer bells and whistles in order to have more of myself to give my family.

More than a gourmet meal, my son wanted to spend time with me.  Me!  A regular wife and mom who constantly questions whether she’s getting this parenting thing right.  His desire for my attention told me how much he loved me, and stopping my agenda to be with him told him the same.  Fun times now.  Cherished memories tomorrow.  I am blessed.  I am thankful.

4 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Traditions

  1. I loved this story and shared it with many family and friends. Thanks for reminding us what is really important! Miss your smile!

    • Thanks so much Suzanne! I miss you, too. You are so easy to talk to and are a lot fun! Hope all is well with you and your family. Happy Thanksgiving!! 🙂

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