After Thanksgiving dinner was safely tucked under our belts -- standard fare of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce -- we joined our family on Zoom and started reminiscing about Thanksgivings past. Most of the memories were fond ones -- of mini-vacations, family get-togethers, convivial dinners and good food.
I recalled one Thanksgiving, back in the 1970s, when my wife and I were vacationing with a few friends. Nobody wanted to cook, but being in our 20s we didn't plan ahead, so we couldn't get a table at a restaurant . . . that is, until we found a Chinese place tucked into the back of a mini-mall. We walked into an empty room, with 20 or so empty tables, and proceeded to enjoy a great meal with great service. The cuisine seemed a little out-of-place for the occasion -- I had the pu pu platter -- but we all had a wonderful time laughing and joking about our sudden and unexpected cultural adventure.
My sister remembered with a laugh the frozen string beans our mother used to overcook. I recalled the cranberry sauce plopped straight out of the can -- and the sweet potato casserole drenched in sauce and decorated with little marshmallows.
"Speaking of marshmallows," my wife said, "did you guys ever have Jello with fruit in it? We used Mandarin oranges. with marshmallows and sometimes sour cream on top."
But then my son recalled how he loved to sit around in his pajamas on Thanksgiving day, watching the Macy's parade and helping his mom tear apart the bread and prepare the stuffing -- and how great it tasted after it came out of the turkey.
"Yeah," my daughter added. "And I loved drowning everything in gravy. Mom made really good gravy."
Then my other sister recalled, "Well, our mother wasn't much of a cook. But in her defense, she made a great leg of lamb -- not for Thanksgiving, but usually for Christmas."
I remembered the leg of lamb. I don't even like lamb anymore, but I did back in those days. I liked the lamb and the roasted potatoes and all the other trimmings -- and just the fun and the warm feelings you get sitting around the table with eight or ten or twelve family members.
"And remember Mom's hard sauce?" my sister added. "How did she make that? I think it was basically butter and sugar. It might've had a taste of vanilla and maybe some nutmeg."
"And a drop of rum," I added. "Don't forget the rum! But . . . what did we put it on?"
"Pecan pie," she said.
"No, pumpkin pie," I corrected.
"Maybe fruitcake," added my other sister.
"Oh, God, not fruitcake . . . spare me the fruitcake . . . "
And thus it went. Another Thanksgiving full of family fun and fond memories. And now it's on to Christmas . . .