Archived Story

Holidays make fondest memories

Published 12:32pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I was blessed to grow up in a family with a lot of traditions, and holidays are some of my favorite childhood memories.

I vividly remember the first Thanksgiving I could read well enough to search through the yellow tin box that holds my mom’s family recipes and read the measurements of my grandmother’s famous chocolate pie.

My grandmother and I were notorious for trying to appear busy so mom wouldn’t ask us to clean anything, and we were usually pretty successful.

We laughed, Grandmother cooked and I polished silver and set the table.

I love setting the table because Thanksgiving is one of the three times a year my mom allows us to use my grandparents’ wedding china and crystal.

My grandparents were divorced long before I was ever born, but somehow using the beautiful things from their wedding seems so romantic to me.

I love the way the delicate white plates with their slim silver bands and the sparkling crystal somehow made our simple dining room suddenly look like a fancy hotel. Somehow just the elegantly set table makes it feel like it’s actually a special holiday.

We’ve eaten the same Thanksgiving lunch of sweet potato casserole (with pecans not marshmallows), cornbread dressing, smoked turkey, honey-baked ham, English pea casserole, macaroni and cheese, chocolate pie and Sister Schubert yeast rolls off those plates for as long as I can remember – until this year.

I haven’t lived under the same roof as my two siblings and mom for years now, and this Thanksgiving I didn’t even have the same last name.

When I accepted my job here at The Outlook in August, I knew I was signing up for six months of no vacation time, and I knew the newspaper industry worked holidays. I reluctantly broke the news to my mom as soon as I was sure it wouldn’t be practical to go to Birmingham for Thanksgiving.

I expected her to say come home over the weekend and we’ll celebrate then, but instead she suggested we do Thanksgiving at my house.

I was thrilled with the idea of getting to spend Thanksgiving Day with my family, but I was nervous the holiday just wouldn’t be the same.

Thanksgiving lunch is always at my mom’s, and Mom and I spend the night of Thanksgiving shopping together.

My grandmother passed away in January so this was our first Thanksgiving without her, and I wanted things to be as normal as possible.

I don’t keep milk in my fridge, I’ve never seasoned my iron skillet and my house is pretty small for my family plus Dane and me. My dishes are pretty, but they are not nearly as elegant as my grandmother’s china, and Auburn has nowhere near the shopping selection that Birmingham offers.

But Wednesday night my brother, sister, mom and our 12-year-old Labrador retriever, Hope, arrived in Auburn. Mom’s Explorer was filled to the brim with spices, corn meal (she only likes her brand), cans of chicken broth and cream of chicken soup, an iron skillet and my grandparents’ crystal deviled egg dish.

Mom had to sleep on the couch because Hope won’t sleep without her and she can no longer climb stairs. My dad had to drive four hours Thursday just to eat lunch because we only have two guest bedrooms.

We ate Thanksgiving lunch on my everyday dishes, and we didn’t have homemade chocolate pie. Neither mom nor I could ever make chocolate pie like Grandmother did, and I don’t think either one of us is quite strong enough yet to try.

But we served deviled eggs on a piece of my grandparents’ crystal, and my dad drove with a chocolate pie from my favorite restaurant on ice, and we had Thanksgiving lunch anyway. Thursday night Mom and I didn’t have as many stores to choose from, but we still went shopping.

We had a wonderful time together, and I think Grandmother would have been very pleased.

This Thanksgiving might not have been exactly like our traditions of years past, but as I said goodbye to my family Friday morning and headed into the office, I was extremely thankful.

Pemberton is a staff writer for The Outlook.

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