to Grandmother's house we go.
The horse knows the way
to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow... oh!"
My dad actually sang that song as we rode -- in a car -- over a couple of rivers, and through some woods -- and by a bunch of manufacturing plants -- to my grandmother's house for Thanksgiving when I was a little kid.
And that created the first of many fond memories of Thanksgiving. For us, Thanksgiving was the one day of the year when my entire extended family (all 13 of us) were together -- my parents, my sister and me, my aunt and uncle and 4 cousins, both grandmothers and our one remaining grandfather. We kids were all pretty close in age, so we had a lot of fun, playing games, putting on skits and 'haunted houses' for the adults. And of course, eating!
Like all families who can remember an ethnic heritage other than American/English, we had not only the turkey and trimmings, but also ethnic foods. Today, I'd kill for my grandmother's noodle kugel and potato kugel (she took those recipes to her grave, and no one else's comes close). My aunt, born in Sweden, didn't make cranberry sauce, she made lingonberry sauce instead. (Tasted the same to me -- great!). When we got older, there was champagne. One year, there was even a jeroboam of champagne.
So Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I mean, really, what's not to like? You get to appreciate everything, to share that with people you care about -- and then there's all that food! For my family, turkey, stuffing, gravy and lingonberry sauce only appeared once a year.
With every bit of turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce today, I am linked to those happy memories. Even when I cook, I think of my mother and aunt and grandmothers cooking for us all those years ago, and so even the cooking is a kind of ritual. It's a ritual that takes a few days -- and is well worth the time.
I'll be cooking next Wednesday, not writing or doing my radio show. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!