Thanksgiving prep is in full swing at my house as I’m sure it is in most houses. Luckily, I got most everything I need. My husband informed me he had to make a run to the grocery store. I gave him the three finger salute and told him with a kiss, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” He laughed for a second but looked genuinely afraid as he walked out the door.
I, meanwhile, stood in the kitchen in basketball shorts, hair in a bun on top of my head, and a t-shirt that’s seen better days and took on the task of rolling out dumplings. Although it’s a messy affair, this is something I genuinely like doing. I love the sticky dough and the flour clouds and the rolling and cutting. It reminds me of being in my grandmother’s kitchen listening to her sing I’ll Fly Away and Leaning on the Everlasting Arms while up to her elbows in dough. It’s a tradition and my heritage to know how to mix the dough, how thin to make the dumplings, and what a secret how easy it all is.
I remember the men folk in my family used to break down the door to get in the house for Mamaw’s chicken and dumplings. She’d usher us kids to the table while the stove was swarmed by hungry men. We all said a little prayer that there would be anything left if my cousin, Chris, was first in line. She took great joy in people eating her food. I think I get that from her.
I’ve not mastered, but can make a close copy of her cornbread, chicken and dumplings, and banana pudding. One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever gotten was a few years ago when one of my cousins put an arm around me and said, “Kacie, yours tastes just like Mamaw Ree’s banana pudding.” I think it brought a tear to my eye.
When the dumplings were rolled, Tony came in and asked if I was going to make a trial run. He seemed a little crestfallen when I said I hadn’t planned on it. “But babe,” he said with a gleam in his eye, “how can you be sure they’ll turn out right?” So, I cooked him dumplings to sample. I’m sure my family will be grateful for his quality check.
About ten years ago, I was looking for something simple when I volunteered to bring a dessert for Thanksgiving. I found a recipe for Oreo pie. I had no idea that I was diving head first into a contract for the rest of my life. Back then, all my little cousins were kids. It was love at first bite. All the kiddos were hooked. It was gone before I knew it. I made a mental note to make two for Christmas.
At the time, my youngest boy cousin, Wyatt, was about six or so. When it came dessert time that Christmas, my mom looked at me quizzically and asked, “Didn’t you make two pies?” I told her I had. Upon further investigation of the missing pie, we found Wyatt had taken a whole one for himself. What was on his face was the only evidence to be found.
Now, each and every time we discuss what foods we should bring, I am volunteered for Oreo pie. Most of my little cousins are adults or entering adulthood now. Several have spouses and kids of their own now. They’ve even gotten their spouses in on it. My cousin’s wife, Michelle, was the first to request Oreo pie this year.
I’ve made the mistake of not making it a time or two. I’ve learned my lesson. After one of my lapses, Wyatt made sure everyone knew that if I didn’t make pie, I couldn’t come to Thanksgiving. My youngest cousin, Maddie, asked about it one year when I brought something else and made a sound of such despair when she discovered there was none. Needless to say, I now know better. This year we will have Oreo pie.
Food aside, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Christmas is wonderful but has been overtaken by the decorating and buying gifts. Thanksgiving is one of the last pure holidays. It’s togetherness and food and being thankful. I took on a full meal with the works last year. It was a lot of work. I was dog tired by the end of the day, but I loved every minute. I’m not doing that this year, but I will be contributing to and partaking in two Thanksgiving meals with some of my favorite people. At the end of the day, it’s not what you eat or where you eat. It’s who you eat with. Happy Thanksgiving!