Mindful of blessings and leftovers

Published 12:37 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

By Bonnie Brown

Mindful of blessings and Thanksgiving is all about food, family, football, and traditions.  Not unlike the Pilgrims in 1621 at Plymouth Rock, we feast.  And that’s where the traditions enter into this holiday.  

In 1789, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation and called upon Americans to express thanks for the conclusion of the country’s war for independence.  

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Presidents John Adams and James Madison also designated days of “thanksgiving” during their presidencies.  But it wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.  

Traditions vary from region to region across the country.  If you are from the South, you likely enjoy cornbread dressing.  If you are from somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line, it will be bread stuffing with various additives—oysters, sausage, etc.  

My husband Tom, sons Dennis and Jeff, and I would travel to Ohio to spend Thanksgiving with my mother, brothers, and their families nearly every year.  Mom would make the bread stuffing, cranberry salad and some other side dishes and we’d go to my brother’s house.  There, we would find not only turkey but ham and so many other dishes.  One that I especially loved was the potato salad.  My brother Fred and wife Shirley make the best!  

My Mississippi-born husband was faced with a cultural shift in the form of bread stuffing rather than the familiar cornbread dressing of his upbringing.  The bread stuffing contains bread, sautéed onion and celery, and butter, flavored with salt, pepper, milk, and sage.  I suspect he was secretly snarfing down antacids throughout the visit.  

When I was young, I remember Thanksgiving morning started very early.  My mother and dad were up early to wrestle the turkey into the electric roaster.  This roaster was the size of a Volkswagen, and the turkey was huge.  The roaster was necessary to free up the oven for all the other dishes and desserts.  

Nowadays, our Thanksgiving feast doesn’t start quite as early.  Tom and I collaborate on the cornbread dressing.  He’s the chef and I’m the sous chef.  I bake the cornbread, boil the eggs, chop the onions, and pour the chicken broth in as directed.  Tom is the mixer of this collaboration and dictates the amount of sage and spices to add.  He is, after all, the Southerner and naturally knows these things.  And the result is delicious!

One year, my mother-in-law Valda Brown and I decided that we wanted a break from all the cooking and preparation.  So, we made the decision that we would all go to the Holiday Inn (located where The Graduate is) for our mid-day Thanksgiving spread.  It was wonderful!  The dressing was tasty, the turkey was moist, the desserts were fabulous, and the service was great.  

We went home happy and took a nap.  However, when it was time for our evening meal, alas there were no leftovers!  Obviously, we hadn’t thought this through.  Not even a slice of pumpkin pie, which is always the last to be eaten at our house.  

Whatever your traditions, take a minute to give thanks, to be in harmony with your family, to be mindful of your many blessings.   We have so many reasons to be grateful—especially for the leftovers!  Happy Thanksgiving!