Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Memories

This morning as I carefully placed pies on the antique buffet that sits in my dining room, and set my table for the eleven people who will be gathered around it later this afternoon, I couldn't help but think of my parents and past Thanksgivings.  

My parents were the ultimate party throwers and entertainers.  My dad loved cooking for a crowd and never passed up an opportunity to invite friends and family to our home.  I cannot remember a single Thanksgiving or Christmas that we spent anywhere else but in our house.  
Every Thanksgiving, my dad would get up before dawn to stuff a giant turkey and get it ready to go into the oven.  Pies were made the night before and lined the buffet.  He rarely let anyone bring anything to a holiday dinner because he always insisted on making everything himself.  My dad was always the primary chef in our home.  He cooked every for every Sunday dinner and every major holiday event as far back as I can remember.

One year, after Craig and I were married, we invited my parents to spend Thanksgiving with us in Atlanta.  I knew before they arrived that my dad would not be able to relax with someone else preparing dinner, so I planned a ridiculously complicated meal just so that he could show me how to do all those challenging things that I had never tried before.  We made chocolate bread pudding and a pear tart that year for dessert, along with the usual pumpkin and pecan pies.  We also made creamed spinach and some butternut quash casserole that no one really loved.  He was fearless and undaunted in the kitchen, and no matter how complicated the recipe, I don't remember him ever making anything that didn't turn out the way he intended.

He was also meticulous and followed recipes to the letter.  He cleaned mushrooms with a paper towel and stored them in brown paper bags in the fridge.  He kept his knives sharpened at all times.  He didn't cut corners…ever.  He let the dough rise completely.  He made homemade pie crusts.  He uniformly chopped every vegetable.  In my kitchen adventures, especially now that he is no longer looking over my shoulder, I tend to just toss things in and estimate amounts instead of measuring.  He would be horrified.  :)

While my dad cooked, my mom decorated and set beautiful tables.  I have countless pictures and even more memories of spectacular tables set with beautiful place settings that only complimented and highlighted my dad's amazing food.  

They were a great team.  And the thing that made them happiest in the world was generously feeding large crowds of people.  

They taught me that it's always better to have too much than not enough, that preparing food is a way of showing love, and that every occasion is appropriatel for a beautifully set dinner table.  
nope, we still haven't decided on a paint color…we just keep adding to the choices

Memories of my parents are flooding my thoughts today, and I can feel them here in the house, as I set the table.  The giant white platter and the white gravy boat will be filled with delicious food in a few hours.  And that table will be surrounded by people we love.  

I am so grateful for a legacy of entertaining and food preparation that my parents left for me.  I am grateful this year for abundance of food, friends, and family that we love.  And I am grateful for traditions that forever link us to those who have gone before us.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

1 comment:

  1. Haunani, Happy Thanksgiving. I truly enjoyed reading this trip down memory lane. It was beautifully written with such warmth and love. I enjoyed all the photos. You can just see all the love that they put into their entertaining. Beautiful memories!