Over The River and Through The Woods

Or the new, modern version:  Over the river and down I-81…

Before we were married, my husband and I decided we would alternate holidays between his parents and mine.  This has worked well for twelve years.  And this year it’s my parents’ turn to have us for Thanksgiving.

I love going home to Virginia for Thanksgiving.  (Yes, I still call my mom’s house “home”.)  My mom is a fabulous cook.  And Thanksgiving is nothing if not about the food.  Yeah, there’s all that thankfulness jazz, but truly, Thanksgiving without a huge spread of traditional comfort food is hardly Thanksgiving at all.  Do I hear an amen?

Just to give you a taste of Thanksgiving at my house (taste, get it!?  ha!) let me share a story.

Exactly thirteen years ago, my husband (my then-fiance) came to Virginia to have Thanksgiving for the first time with his future in-laws.  My mom was expecting, in addition to her two children and her future son-in-law, her niece’s family of five.  It was going to be a full house.

Now, my mom is known for her pies.  Everything is from scratch, even the crust, no exceptions, EV-ER.  Don’t EVEN try to pass one of them frozen imitations over on us.  And the cardboard crust in the foil pan they sell in the baking isle?  I have no words.

Expecting a group of ten for Thanksgiving, my mom prepared six pies.  Now, let me pause for a second so you can do the math.  That is more than a half a pie for each person.  And yall, that was a LIGHT year.

When my then-fiance arrived at my house the day before Thanksgiving, he was greeted by six homemade pies smiling at him from the counter.  He took one look at the pies, his eyes wide and said, “That’s some serious pie.”

I probably said something like, “Welcome to the family”

If there had been any doubt as to the future of our relationship, that spread of pies sealed our fate.  For better or for worse, as long as there’s pie — I’m pretty sure that was in our wedding vows somewhere.

In addition to the Festival of Pies, we always have the traditional holiday fare of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberries (notice I said “cranberries” — not to be confused with that congealed “cranberry sauce” you buy in a can, of which, I have to admit, I am quite fond, but would never make it to the table at my mom’s house).

A couple less traditional dishes that are always on our Thanksgiving table are the “sweet potato casserole” which, I admit, might be a tad misleading (this is more of a sweet potato pudding complete with mini-marshmallows on top) and the “broccoli casserole” which basically consists of croutons and cheese sauce with a side of broccoli.  In other words, the broccoli is nothing more than a vehicle with which to transport the cheese sauce and croutons to our mouths.

Then come, of course, the pies.

And there is usually an assortment of other treats, such as fudge, peanut butter balls, pumpkin roll, lemon bread and lots of cheese and crackers and crab dip to snack on throughout the day while we are waiting for dinner to be ready.

It’s basically an Ode to Gluttony, plain and simple.  ‘Cause nothing says “Thank you God for your bountiful provision” better than celebrating one of the seven deadly sins.

Seriously, though, we have MUCH to be thankful for this year.  My health issues seem to be diagnosed and under control.  We have all the necessities and so much more.  Most importantly, we have a loving, happy family with whom I am very excited to spend my holidays this year!

So.  What’s gonna be on YOUR Thanksgiving table?