Friday, November 19, 2010

Flashback Friday - Gobbling Up Memories

I can't believe I left off a crucial question: Do you call it dressing or stuffing?

What was Thanksgiving like when you were growing up? What days did you usually have off from school? Do you remember any Thanksgiving activities at school, such as a play or a meal? During the Thanksgiving weekend, did you travel to spend it with relatives or did you stay home? Or did relatives travel to you? What was your family's day typically like? Did you watch the Macy's Parade or something else on TV? Have you ever attended a Thanksgiving parade? Was football a big part of the day? And of course, we have to hear what your family ate! Were there any traditional foods that were part of your family's meal? Which of your growing-up traditions do you do with your family today? And if you are married, how did it go merging your two traditions/expectations?

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Some of my earliest memories are of smelling the turkey cooking while I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Our typical meal when I was little was turkey (more on that later), dressing (cooked on top of the stove, not baked), homemade cranberry sauce, a vegetable, and our traditional family dessert. When we moved and my mom had a bigger kitchen, she sometimes cooked rolls as well. I had never heard of having both dressing and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving until I got married, and I always thought that was a bit strange--way overkill on the carbs! When I was little I always got a big helping of cranberry sauce and hated dressing; now that I'm an adult, I love dressing and just take a dab of cranberry sauce!

I love turkey. Which is a bit of an aggravating memory for me. My brother and his family alternated Thanksgiving between her family and ours. On the "off" years when there weren't as many of us, my mom would often bake a chicken instead of a turkey. I have never liked baked chicken as much as turkey, partly because it is too moist. (I know I'm weird; most people prefer moist meat, but I love me some dry turkey breast!) I would campaign for turkey instead of chicken, but she would rarely give in and she often said, "_______ (my sister) likes the chicken better." Hmmpff. My parents never favored one child over another, and this really bugged me. I didn't expect her never to fix chicken, but I figured she shouldn't ignore my desire either! Years later after I was grown, I asked her about it. And she said, "I didn't think you were able to tell the difference." (Um, remember that question from this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge about being underestimated?!) I never understood why she figured my sister could have a preference but I didn't. Part of being the youngest, I guess.

Our dessert was unique to our family. My mom "just didn't see the need" for all those pies and cakes that most other people fixed. Plus, she just didn't have the time or kitchen space to do it all. So we had fruit salad for dessert. But it wasn't just any fruit salad. There wasn't anything unusual about the fruit itself; she combined apples, oranges, a can of crushed pineapple, and bananas (added when it was served so they wouldn't discolor). My dad would serve our bowls and then the best part began. We would all "doctor" our salad the way we wanted, adding pecans, walnuts, coconut, and/or miniature marshmallows. Everyone had a little different preference. Then we'd pass our bowls back to Daddy, who would spoon freshly whipped cream over the top. It looked like a snow-covered mountain! Of course, we had to "fight over" who got to lick the beaters and the bowl it was whipped in. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

We always had our big meal at lunch, usually around 12:30 or 1:00. Then in the afternoons, the TV was always on with college football games. The big game, of course, was the traditional shootout between The University of Texas and Texas A&M. (Then for a number of years they moved the game to Thanksgiving Friday.) I still remember the first time I went to my then-future in-laws. My FIL was a hard-core (and hard-Corps!) Aggie, and there I was from a very orange-blooded family! I just sat there very quietly!

I don't remember there ever being a Thanksgiving meal at the school. But since I bought my lunch, I might not have noticed. It definitely would not have been something where parents came and ate with their kids like so many schools do today. I have only two memories of commemorating Thanksgiving at school, and I probably remember those because I think we did them every single year! One is making the construction paper turkey from a handprint. And the other, which was my favorite, was seeing how many words we could find in the phrase "Happy Thanksgiving." I was a word geek even way back then, and my competitive streak made it that much more fun!

One of our poetry books had a Thanksgiving poem in it that I memorized as a child. I'm not sure if I had to memorize it for school or if I just read it so many times I memorized it on my own. I can still say all but a couple of lines in the middle of the poem, and it was fun getting out our old poetry book yesterday and looking it up. And the book pretty much fell open right to that page!

The Pilgrims Came
by Annette Wynne

The Pilgrims came across the sea
And never thought of you and me
And yet it's very strange the way
We think of them Thanksgiving Day

We tell their story old and true
Of how they sailed across the blue,
And found a new land to be free
And built their homes quite near the sea.

Every child knows well the tale
Of how they bravely turned the sail,
And journeyed many a day and night
To worship God as they thought right.

Some people think that they were sad
And grave. I'm sure that they were glad--
They made Thanksgiving Day--that's fun--
We thank the pilgrims, everyone!

We're usually with my man's family on Thanksgiving. For most of the years, it was a joint effort, with one sibling hosting and everyone bringing something. Last year for the first time we all went out on Thanksgiving, and we are going to the same place this year. The good thing about it is that there's less of an opportunity to overindulge. The bad thing about it is that there are no leftovers! The relaxing morning is nice, too.

Since this is potentially a big topic with lots of memories, feel free to divide it two posts, one for this week and one for next week. Since Thanksgiving is next Thursday, I won't post an official prompt, but I will have a linky on Friday for anyone who wants to post. Or if you prefer, next Friday you can "flash back" to the day before and share about this year's Thanksgiving!

Share your Thanksgiving memories and link up here!


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Jim said...

Linda, I think I called it both! I missed our cue, sorry.

Sounds like yours was a very traditional American Thanksgiving. Even to the point of when the folks get old then eat out. Buffets preferred.
You wrote it up very nicely. Thank you for sharing.

Joyce said...

Wait til you read about dessert in my post : ) It's funny!

I say bring on the carbs! I do mashed potatoes, dressing and usually a sweet potato casserole of some sort too. But I have just a little dab of each. Except the dressing-that's a big dab!

I like my turkey moist but you and my fil share a love of dry turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving! This was fun!

sara said...

my daughter just called and said "i need sleep while I am home mom, but I will be up for the Parade on Thanksgiving day" tradition!

I can't have Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes AND stuffing (corn bread stuffing stuffed IN the bird!)


This was fun and you and I have a lot of commonalities when it comes to was easy to follow your prompt and replies.

Lyn Cote said...

Dressing, stuffing--I don't care. I just eat it!
Unique dessert idea by your mom. But I'll be baking a traditional pumpkin and an apple pie for dessert!

Barbara H. said...

I mentioned those hand-print turkeys, too -- must've been the thing to do back then!

That's so odd that your request didn't register with your mom. I know there are things my kids think I brushed off that I don't even remember -- I hope not too much of that happened, though! Maybe she just didn't want all the extra meat from the turkey without the extra people there? Seems like she would have said that, though. But I am glad you have some great memories.

bp said...

I love the fruit salad idea. My Mom usually makes it too but we don't add anything to it...just fruit.

My husband's family has gone out the past few years. I think I'd miss the leftovers! Of course my Mom is the one who does almost all the cooking, I think she likes it though!

Kathy said...

I enjoyed your Thanksgiving memories. That fruit salad sounds delicious--what a neat idea to add your own embellishments!

Kim said...

I would give ANYTHING if we could go out for Thanksgiving this year! I love my in-laws, but they are about to drive me CRAZY this year planning everything and griping about what they planned and changing the plans .....GRRRR!!

Karen said...

Enjoyed your memories. I've been looking for a good poem to share with second graders. This one is simple and lovely.

Robin Lambright said...

What would we do with out the Macy's day Parade????

My grandma used to make a fruit salad very similar to that only the whipped cream was already stirred in, it was more like a congealed salad but it was fruity, fluffy and very delicious!

Happy Thanksgiving

quilly said...

I forgot about the fruit salad -- like a dessert but served with dinner for us. And I forgot to even mention the pies. My aunt always had pumpkin, cherry, apple, and mince meat. She baked them all the day before Thanksgiving.

We always did the turkey made from a handprint thing, too. I think it is a rite of passage. I never mentioned it because I thought you meant "special" type things.