Passing the T-Day Torch

NormanRockwellAt what point does the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner get handed over to the next generation? Is there a statute explaining the process of turning the oven mitts over to the daughters/sons so they can begin their own traditions?

I grew up thinking it was a law for grandmothers to make the Thanksgiving feast, with all the favorite dishes like perfectly-roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, fluffy biscuits and pumpkin pie with real whipped cream; and the not-so-favorite bowls of sweet potato casserole and giblet stuffing. I never thought T-Day would ever change, that we’d go on eating at grandma’s house until the end of time.

But then my Grandma Stewart passed away. And then my Grandma Brickey passed away. And although I knew my mom was a good cook, I worried that Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same. She didn’t have the aluminum drinking cups that gave grandma’s 7-Up and Kool-Aid concoction that metallic tang. And she didn’t have access to boysenberry bushes to create my favorite holiday pie. And my cousins wouldn’t be around to torment.

Thanksgiving rolled around, and (surprise!) the meal magically appeared on the table—with all the appropriate fixin’s. My mom had done it! She pulled it off! I was impressed, and showed her my gratitude by eating two dozen of her dinner rolls, doused in homemade strawberry jam.

I decided I could put off worrying about traditions being changed for many, many years.

Or so I thought.

One day, my mom announced she was moving to the far-off state of North Carolina with her new husband, blatantly ignoring the fact that her daughters were Thanksgiving-disabled. Oh sure, we brought the mandatory side dish to each holiday meal; but we’d never cooked an entire T-Day banquet. It seemed our choices were either a) move to North Carolina, b) order KFC take-out, or c) eat only pie (which I was totally okay with).

My sisters and I called an emergency meeting. We tentatively agreed to cook a turkey, but had no idea how big that turkey should be, or how many potatoes needed to be peeled, and we were clueless about making gravy. We knew mom’s first ingredient was always butter; we figured we couldn’t go wrong from there.

Luckily, we had mom on speed-dial, and she talked us through that first Thanksgiving without her. We survived with only mild cases of food poisoning, and a broccoli stuffing that was quietly served into the garbage disposal.

But after mom passed away, we couldn’t even call her for tips.

IMG_0654That’s when I realized that I had become the grandmother, that legally it was my role to feed my family Thanksgiving dinner. I still can’t time a turkey; it’s either finished cooking way too early, or still roasting while we eat pie. And I refuse to make sweet potatoes. But we’ve established our traditions, and hopefully my grandkids associate the holiday with my desserts and homemade rolls. And not the overcooked stuffing or too-salty gravy.

I often wonder which of my daughters will take over the role of Thanksgiving chef when I’m too old and feeble to cook (any day now). And I wonder what favorite foods will become traditions at their meals. As our families become more diverse, T-Day might include tamales, shrimp curry or sushi. I’m cool with that.

As long as there are homemade rolls and jam, and any kind of pie, my Thanksgiving is complete.

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Things Driving Me Crazy Today

(These damn kids with their loud music and their saggy jeans! Get off my lawn, you buggers!)

I must be getting older because my patience is wearing thin. I always thought my grandma was crotchety and impatient–and now I’ve become her. (Time to learn how to knit and yell at the neighbor kids.) But I’m sure my grandma would agree with the following things that are driving me crazy today:

  • Male politicians and religious leaders (and some FEMALE politicians) arguing about a woman’s choice for birth control, abortion, etc. At what point did women’s health issues become the government’s business? Stay out of my nether-regions, sir!

(Coming soon! A new Utah State Legislature-approved fashion line for women.)

  •  Drivers who don’t wave “thank you” after you let them pull in front of you.
  • People who are NOT me that make millions of dollars a year.
  • “Celebrity” news about a) Lindsey Lohan’s relapses, b) Angelina Jolie’s fertility status, c) anything involving a Snooki or a J-Woww, or d) Katherine Heigl’s “career.”

(“News,” by definition, is something that happens out of the ordinary. This is not “news.”)

  • People who are NOT me who are eating chocolate cake right now.
  • Beyoncé trademarking her daughter’s name: Blue Ivy Carter. Really? Is having a child a money-making scheme? (Didn’t work for me, that’s for damn sure.)
  • People who speak Starbuck-ese. Get over it! The sizes are small, medium and large. Geesh.

(Thank God there’s still some sense in the world.)

  • The Oscars! Enough all-freakin’-ready!
  • Showing up at a semi-formal event in jeans and flip-flops. Whoops. (Didn’t get the memo.)
  • Self check-out lanes at the grocery store that are 12 times slower than having an employee do the job for you.  I’m not smart enough to be a cashier–or I’d BE A CASHIER!!!
  • The Utah State Legislature. No explanation needed.

(The Utah Capitol Building. Could also be the setting for the Ringling Brothers, “Psycho” and/or “Titanic.”)

Now that I’ve vented, I’m going to take my teeth out and take a nap.