The scent of cinnamon, cloves, orange peels, and apple cider hits me like a warm hug on a cold day. It’s Wednesday morning. The Wednesday before thanksgiving, and my aproned mom greets me with open arms and a cheerful smile. It’s my favorite day of the year. There is music on and a clear plastic baggie protecting priceless family recipes rests on the kitchen counter. It’s cooking time.
It’s our day. Our day to reminisce, to talk, to cry, to cook, and to remember. It’s not just about food.
I pull out the first recipe. It has a few stains on it, and written in ink is my mother’s mom (my grandmother) Meme’s handwriting. I remember. I flashback to her home in Mississippi, to boiled peanuts, to shelling peas, and my memories of her. I pause briefly after completing her dish as if to give homage and then I pull out an index card from the plastic baggie. On this card is my dad’s mom’s handwriting, Mama Lois (or “Mois,” as I called her). I flashback to flea markets, to her laugh, and to her crystal blue eyes – the eyes my daughter inherited. The next recipe is the toughest for me. It’s my aunt’s. She passed in 2016. It’s still a fresh and open wound. I love looking at her handwriting. She was old fashioned and took pride in her beautiful cursive penmanship. I feel, when I read it, that she is there in the room with us, cooking, cleaning, and laughing. I can still hear her.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect, to look back, to remember, and to appreciate. During this time, please consider where the food that fills your table came from. Was it your grandmother’s recipe? Maybe your Aunt’s? We’ve all loved and we’ve all lost. To me, Thanksgiving is a time to honor those we miss. So, as you eat your Turkey and dressing and whatever else makes this holiday special to you and yours, think about the love that went into making this day so wonderful and remember: It’s not just the food we’re thankful for.