I can’t believe it’s already November. To make it worse, everywhere I look the poor turkeys are being squeezed out by the holiday stuff. What the hell?
It’s too bad because a holiday devoted to being thankful and food overload is my kind of holiday. I’ve always loved it — so much, that in college, we made Thanksgiving dinner and ate on two mattresses on the floor because we didn’t have a table big enough.
In preparation, I was watching a video of a Mid ’80s Tunno Thanksgiving. My brother taped it form me, since I was in California. My nephews are small, loud, running around, and everyone’s talking in my parents crowded dining room. My mom’s scurrying around the oven in a white dress with big blue polkadots like a large, rapidly moving swiss cheese.
My favorite part is when she’s trying to say grace and finally yells, “Shut uppa!” Then without a breath taken, launches immediately into, “Inna da name offa da Father, da Son anna da Holy Spirit.” She then says this very earnest blessing:
“Bless ussa o Lord and dese dye gift which we are bound to receive, from dye boundy, troo Christ our Lord Amen.” Then she adds: “Tang a you God for da grace anna blessing you have a bestayed (bestowed) upon a me anna my husband anna my children. I tang a you God for dissa beoodeful day wid alla my family around a me.” Then she dips a tiny whisk into some holy water she got from our church and liberally drenches everyone at the table with it, as if she was Pope Francis himself.
God, I miss that woman!
So, if your family is still with you. Enjoy them, listen, laugh with them…OK — maybe at them. Commit their best lines to memory, or tape them. Drench them with holy water. Don’t worry about your bills, your weight or how sad you’ll be once they die, just be present and have fun. You don’t know it, but you’re creating a memory you’re going to rely on someday. Make it a good one.
Since Christmas is quickly eclipsing Thanksgiving, I’m giving Turkey Day its due. I’m offering my favorite recipe for stuffing and my favorite spiced cranberry sauce recipe. My daughter used to snuggle in our burgundy afghan on the floor in the glow of the fireplace eating bowls of it while reading her favorite books.
In my next blog, I’m offering my mom’s recipe for stuffing (with ground meat, cheese and mushrooms — yum). I’ll also have a classic story about the first Thanksgiving my brother Bob brought home his girlfriend, Patty and how she was pressed into service transcribing one of my mom’s angry complaint letters.
(A quick note: If you’re one of those stinking overachievers who simply must get all your holiday shopping done before Thanksgiving, then, at least, have the decency to buy something from my store!)
Fran’s Sausage Chestnut Stuffing
*1 box of Turkey or Chicken Flavored Stove Stop (no mocking – please see asterisk)
2 1/2 stalks celery chopped
1 cups roasted chestnuts (if they’re hard, roast them, then soak them in some water before adding them)
1 cups Italian sausage removed from it’s casing, cooked and drained
Cook stuffing according to directions, melting 1/4 cup butter in 1 1/2 cups water then stirring it all together once the butter melts. Add the celery, chestnuts and sausage to the stuffing mixture. If not stuffing the turkey right away, store stuffing in refrigerator.
*All you purists out there, don’t mock me for using Stove Top. Until I am a woman of leisure, it’s the easy way and I’m a fan of easy during the holidays. I may try actual chopped bread and make it from scratch like my mom did one day soon. I’ll report back when I do. If you have a recipe that’s good, send it to me! I’d love to hear.
Fran’s Spiced Cranberry Sauce
1 12 oz package of cranberries
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
Cook on stovetop until cranberries pop. Remove from heat, cover and serve when cooled. (This can also be made in the microwave. Just cook covered for 3 minutes, stir, cook another 3 minutes and stir, then cook another 3 minutes and it’s done! (If the cranberries pop sooner, it may not have to cook as long.)