What are your holiday memories? Here are mine.
Grandma served dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas as 1:00. Or at least that was the plan. Uncle George would be sitting at the table, even if the bird still wasn’t cooked. Grandma had something against turkey, so it was usually chicken. The day before we went to the bakery to pick up two pies. One was always pumpkin and the other was sometimes mince (ewwww) or apple or cherry. The night before she cut up the onions and celery for the stuffing. One mason jar of each, stored in the fridge for morning.
This was all a mystery to me before Mom got sick and I went to live with my grandparents. After that, I got to see the traditions first hand.
Grandma made sage and bread stuffing. She never liked the dried packaged cubes so once it became impossible to buy fresh cubed bread for stuffing we also had to cut up a loaf of bread the night before. I was allowed to do that job. The onions and celery had to be done just so, so it wasn’t until a year Grandma had the stomach bug that I took over.
Once I lived with them, I would wake up to the smell of cooking onions. Grandma was very particular that the onions and celery were fully cooked, but not browned before adding it to the bread cubes, sage (out of a 10 year old bottle, used twice a year), milk and an egg. Then into the bird it went.
Once the bird was is in the oven, breakfast could progress then we could get dressed and work on the rest of the meal.
- pale yellow gravy, too thin some years, often thicker than the jello
- mashed potatoes
- squash, frozen cooked in a double boiler
- a vegetable for Anne (me)
- rolls – from a tube of course
- olives and pickles
- jell cranberry sauce straight from the can
- pie and cool whip in the afternoon
These were the only days of the year we said grace. That was Grandma’s job. I once saw the grace she said printed on a place mat and was amazed she said the Catholic version, not Protestant.
And then we ate leftovers for days and days. Not the creative casseroles you see on the cooking shows. Exactly the menu above reheated again and again. Plus a chicken sandwich for lunch. Thanksgiving and Christmas, just the same. So that is what a holiday meal is to me.