By Kay Braddock
This week many homes are permeating with the aromas of the upcoming Thanksgiving feast. The tempting smells of pumpkin, apple and a variety of cream pies are gently meandering through rooms, enticing expectant diners who will, not-so-innocently, find their way into the kitchen, in hopes of endearing favor from the family’s cook. Pleas to enjoy a pre-meal nibble, are likely resounding.
It’s an image many of us can relate to and one we celebrate. It’s also one that can tug at our memories, reminding us of the core beauties of the season.
In my mind’s eye, I can still picture my mom slipping on her oven mitts and opening the oven door as she prepared to take out one more pumpkin pie. What a delicious smell and a beautiful sight to behold. Of the dozen or so pies she would bake each Thanksgiving, a good half of those would be pumpkin — much to my delight! I’m guessing the reason her pumpkin pies far outnumbered the other varieties may have had something to do with my voracious appetite for them. Regardless of the reason, the smells were immensely delicious. The flavor and texture felt in the first bite were even better.
Weeks before Thanksgiving, my mom would mix up the dough for her piecrusts. Carefully wrapping each one with wax paper, she would store the balls of dough in the freezer, in preparation for the upcoming feast. Days before the meal, the bittersweet smell of cranberries filled her kitchen as they boiled on the stovetop. Buns would be prepared and Jell-O cream salads whipped together. There were countless details she attended to, with an unassuming ease that only an experienced homemaker can exude.
She was an artist — a connoisseur of sorts. As our family’s chef, she carefully prepared a beautiful feast for those she loved most. Not one for the limelight, my mom would quietly busy herself with her duties in serving others as the rest of us went to work following her instructions and, most importantly, keeping ourselves entertained and out of her way. As a child, chores included chopping apples and bananas for the fruit salad, slicing celery and onions for the dressing and of course setting the table with linen napkins and dishware saved for the special occasion. As an adult, of course, the contributions to the meal increased. Carving the turkey was a reserved duty left to my dad.
But it was my mom who pulled the pieces together and made Thanksgiving meal an occasion to celebrate. It was her diligence and love that crafted a centerpiece to our meal far outweighing the delightful tastes covering our table.
I can’t help but wonder just how many other quiet homemakers radiate that same beauty — graciously preparing a meal for those they love, knowing all the while, it will take their family and friends mere minutes to consume. There is no greater love than the willingness to give and serve others. And it’s from those quiet unassuming actions life’s greatest lessons are learned and genuine gratitude is born.
For those who have been compiling Thanksgiving meals for years, thank you. And to those who are just learning the tricks to putting together a feast, thank you — your efforts will reap treasures beyond the day’s meal. Whether you’re filling the shoes of cooks who have gone on, serving your loved ones, or preparing a community meal for neighbors, you are imparting lessons worthy of reflection and giving the rest of us another reason to be thankful.
Published Nov. 23, 2011