My grandmother Helen was a wonderful cook and baker. Luckily for us, we only lived a few blocks away when I was younger so we were often on the receiving end of these goodies.
On Thanksgiving Day, she really outdid herself. Of course, everything was homemade. While the turkey was roasting in the oven, the potatoes were being peeled and readied to boil, then whipped into heavenly clouds full of milk and butter. The yams were in the oven along with the turkey, biscuits were rising on the counter, and vegetables were being chopped. Later, while the turkey was resting after its long roast in the oven, the pan drippings would be made into a thick and hearty gravy. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, the apple and pumpkin pies would appear
When I was 23, I decided to take over this tradition so my grandmother could just relax and enjoy the holiday for a change. Let’s just say I didn’t know what I was in for. Grandma Helen always made it look so easy, but I found out right away that this was not the case. Before the meal preparation could even begin, there was the shopping for all the food that made up the feast. Back then, I was not an early riser, and discovering that I had to get up at 6:00 in the morning to get the turkey ready and in the oven did not thrill me.
Back then, I lived in a little apartment and didn’t even have a dining room table. With 16 people coming, I had to borrow one of those long fold up tables so everyone would have a place to sit down and eat. Since it wouldn’t fit in the kitchen alongside my regular table, it had to go in the living room.
Fortunately, my family is easygoing, and the most important thing was that we were all together. And I’m proud to say that the food was delicious. The turkey was moist, the gravy flavorful, and the potatoes creamy and delicious. All of the sides came out great as well. However, I’m glad I had left the baking up to my grandmother, because this girl was exhausted.
Today, 26 years later, I am still cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the family which has grown over the years. It’s still a lot of hard work, but when I see how much everyone enjoys it, I know it’s worth it.
Written for The Country Register published across the U.S.