My first Thanksgiving after graduating from college was spent in gorgeous, sunny San Diego, a far cry from Clearstone, Pa! I was living with two friends, one girl from Tasmania (yeah, home of the devil) and another from West Virginia. (I’m not gonna say it.) Tasmanian Annie was unfamiliar with the many traditions that surround American Thanksgiving. Two high school friends of mine, Gregg and B.J., were stationed at the Navy base in San Diego, and together we all tried to explain to her some of the basics of Thanksgiving Day. After listening to what we had to say, Annie eagerly volunteered to make the pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving finally arrived and we gathered for an incredible feast with B.J. and his wife. Everything was delicious! And then it was time for dessert…
Annie took the idea of pumpkin pie very literally. She had used the whole pumpkin to make the pie – every single part of the pumpkin. It was a crunchy, vegetably, salty mess. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten in my life, and I still have nightmares about it at this time of year.
That pumpkin pie recipe quickly came to mind after a discussion of recipes with my kindergarten class. This, of course, was preceded by a hilarious discussion about what Thanksgiving was all about. When I asked them what it meant, I got the stuff I know you've been waiting for:
“Thanksgiving? That’s when Jesus was born! “
“No, Thanksgiving is when Jesus died…”
“Thanksgiving is when we sit in our dining room and pray. We just pray.”
“Yeah, it’s when we put lots of stuff on the table and eat!”
“It’s the time for mashed potatoes!”
“It’s when you hang up yellow, red and orange around your house!”
“Thanksgiving is when we eat Matzo.”
As we talked about the Thanksgiving feast, and what kinds of foods are typically eaten, the children began telling me how to prepare the foods. This was such an impressive discussion, that the children decided that people in State College needed their recipes. So, here are some tried and true recipes to make your Thanksgiving meal a success.
Dan- You put wrapping paper all over it and put it in the oven for 29 minutes. Make sure the tempature is 49 degrees.
Jimmy: You take the turkey out of the bag, you put salt and pepper on it, and cook it for 20 minutes at 42 degrees.
Ruth- You take the mashed potatoes out of the bag, you microwave for 20 minutes, squish it all togedder and that’s it.
Ethan: You take peas, carrots and celery and you mix it all together for stuffing.
Jimmy and Ethan together – you take water, ketchup and mustard and salt and pepper and you put it on the counter for 20 minutes. Then you mix it with ½ inch of salt and that’s gravy.
Jimmy – You put crust in the pan, put the seeds and everything in it; you put some batter in it and cook it in the oven for 26 minutes on 20 degrees. It burns very easily, so you have to watch it. Ethan added “you do NOT put the goo in it.”
Taylor – For the pie you just cut the pumpkin in half, mix it all together and cook it in the oven for 10 minutes at 80 degrees. (I think that perhaps Taylor got her pumpkin recipe from Tasmanian Annie.)
Sure, Thanksgiving revolves around the food, but mostly I think that Thanksgiving is about memories. My memories are tucked away inside my heart like gifts that I open every November. They include many a gathering at 6 Turnpike Avenue; the smell of a stuffed Butterball turkey baking in the oven; the sight of my mother Annabelle, laughing with my sister in the kitchen with an apron tied around her waist; and the sound coming through the window of my brother and his friends playing a rousing game of football in the vacant lot behind our house.
These memories mingle together, along with those forged far away from home, and warm my heart at this special, special time of year. Now, if only I could forget about the putrid pumpkin pie, the day would be perfect.
(I am thankful for all of you this year, my friends. More than you know...)