Happy Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving Memory.  Thanksgiving is all about appreciating the bountiful gifts God has given us. I suppose every family that is fortunate enough to celebrate this holiday together develops some traditions over the years. Ours started with the cooks getting together on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to do the preliminary preparations. Through the years, cornbread day developed into a pre-Thanksgiving party. Anyone willing to work was invited. Kids were lined up beside bowls of ingredients, with instructions to stir the contents until “everything is the same color.” The youngest child had the honor of putting the cherries on the cheesecake.

When a crowd of 20 or more people expect real, southern-style turkey and dressing, the cornbread needs to be baked the day before. While the oven’s hot, may as well go ahead and cook those pecan pies and roast the sweet potatoes for tomorrow’s casserole. On Thanksgiving morning, the real cooks would reassemble and produce their masterpiece of turkey and dressing.

We are purists—our stuffing has four ingredients: crumbled cornbread, chicken (not turkey) broth, one large onion (diced), and just the right amount of sage. How could controversy develop over such a simple recipe? The proportions! We like moist dressing, about the consistency of spoon bread. If it’s too dry, everything is scraped into a big bowl, saturated with extra broth, and re-baked. I’m sure you understand how I learned this solution. It has happened only once. All right, twice. An onion is an onion. No disagreement there. Now, how much sage? That’s the basis of a debate that has gone on for decades…and led one of our family’s most unusual Thanksgiving memories.

Let me prepare you by noting that my parents are passionate people, both of them. If you don’t live in their household, you might dare to apply words such as stubborn or bull-headed. Daddy loves an overabundance of sage. Mom prefers just a touch. For years, the standard procedure was for her to do the seasoning. Then someone would distract her while Dad doctored up the mixture. Inevitably, one year she caught him in the act of adding several tablespoons of sage to her dressing. The verbal fur flew between them, while everyone else remained secretly amused and “sagely” neutral.

While the turkey and dressing baked, mother fumed. More words were exchanged. Finally the head cook (Mom) decided this concoction wouldn’t be fit to eat. She took the big pan of dressing—cooked separately from the turkey I’m glad to say—and dumped it in the front yard of their big old farmhouse. The next morning, there were two dead dogs lying in front of the house, feet pointed to the sky. Dad claimed a nasty neighbor carried out his threat to start poisoning stray dogs. Mom maintains to this day the poor critters ate our Thanksgiving dressing—and all that sage killed them. No one went hungry, and we got a story everyone enjoys hearing over and over. All in all, not our worst holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Don’t forget to thank the Lord for all He has given you.

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