Sunday, November 18, 2007

Whatever The Thanksgiving Equivalent of Ho-Ho-Ho Is

One of my many sicknesses is that I love grocery shopping. I really do. Especially around the holidays.

I am especially drawn to the baking stack-outs filled with varieties of chocolate, nuts, and even evaporated milk that cause my imagination to run wild and my pants to spontaneously tighten.

Yesterday, Costco was so busy that I could barely navigate the oversized cart through the oversized aisles to buy enough Velveeta and tortillas to prepare us for Y3K. But I loved it. The possibilities for food and hospitality are endless.

Same with crowded, mob-scene at the turkeys, a giant green Shrek roaming around to add to the chaos, and small children clinging to the carts out of fear. But I find so much joy in selecting those special foods that we really only eat once a year.

Thanksgiving has always been my absolute favoritest holiday...even above and beyond Christmas. Growing up, our family didn't have a specific tradition of how we celebrated, except for the food. The tradition of culinary excellence, my friends, is untouchable. And the menu might as well be etched in stone tablets, because aside from audible direction from the voice of the Lord, it is not changing. Amen.

I have heard that there are other varities of dressing (y'all know it is only called stuffing if it's stuffed in the turkey, right?) besides cornbread dressing. That is the rumor, anyway. Personally I have never tried them because my family will eat cornbread dressing if it harelips the Governor.

I remember many great Thanksgivings we had with our best friends...the moms cooking and laughing and the dads watching football...5 kids running wildly, and I do mean WILDLY through the house. We even drove to see them a few years after they moved and the magic being our friendship--not the location--rendered the same fun.

These are the friends who introduced us to the Slice of Heaven (I am so punny) known as Dude's Pumpkin Pie. It has no equal and there is no thanks worthy of this gift. There is pumpkin pie, and there is Dude's. Do not be fooled by imposters. I will give you the recipe in exchange for all the money you have. Just kidding.

There were also several Thanksgivings that our family from West Texas drove NINETEEN HOURS in a giant red Suburban, God bless them, to celebrate the day with us. I loved flinging open the front door, to see them exhausted, but ready to start planning the days to come. I almost laugh out loud thinking of how hysterical we'd get making dinner, setting the table, and creating our name-card teepees every year. (I believe my mom still has all the originals.)

And then there's the shopping. Fear not, I will probably be dedicating the bulk of next weekend's posts to my favorite shopping time of all. South Denver, however, can never be compared to the Black Friday shopping extravaganza that is downtown Chicago. Waaayyy back in time before cellphones, we armed ourselves with walkie-talkies and hit Michigan Avenue en masse.

I won't bore you with a blow-by-blow description of our shopping follies (and that they were) but the two things that stand out are the year Natalie fell asleep on the floor of the Michigan Avenue Brooks Brothers. The youngest of the pack, she literally dropped from all the fun. In the entry way, for all to see.

The other memory I have is of eight or nine of us trying to catch the train after a marathon (and I am an intense shopper, so do not take that as an exaggeration) of shopping. I was quite pregnant and hauling tail for ABOUT A MILE along city streets to catch the last train back home and avoid sleeping on the streets downtown. There are no words to describe what a pack of suburbanites running through downtown, huge shopping bags and pregnant belly in tow, must have looked like.

Except really stupid.

I just remember lots of sweating once we finally sat down. It smelled like a track meet in that train car.

And we laughed and laughed and laughed.

We may or may not have eaten an entire tin of Garrett's Popcorn on the train ride home. Fuel, you know.

So armed with these great memories, we set out to create the same joy with our kids. The family, the friends, the company always changing, but the food, BY GOLLY THE FOOD, stays the same.

Sure, there are additions that I love for people to bring, just to try new things...but there are some traditions so sacred that I dare not mess with. Even if my mom and grandma will not be here to testify against any dressing that isn't of the cornbread variety, I somehow believe they will know if I forsake tradition.

And there must be pie. And it must be Dude's.


Anonymous said...

I am sick I am going to miss it!!! and the Black Day experience... will I ever be the same???