Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s all the delight of Christmas with a third less pressure. I’ve spent Thanksgiving in the deep recesses of a third world country, in the shadow of Capitol Hill, in the heat and the snow, celebrating life and mourning loss. There’s something about Thanksgiving that speaks to our inner soul and sets off the homing instinct.
One of my favorite Thanksgivings was the first year that Craig and I established our home. We had spent a fair amount on the wedding and honeymoon and had used up our vacation time to boot, so we were staying in Virginia. I was secretly thrilled. If I had gone home, I would have been relegated to junior sous chef, setting the table and keeping an eye on the bread to make sure it didn’t burn. Nope, the time had come for me to assume the mantle. It was Thanksgiving, I had a double oven, and it was time for me to become the official Queen of my Kitchen. There would be nobody to boss me around – no grandmother to tell me the gravy was too thin or too salty, no eight-way arms negotiations to determine if the turkey was done and no discussion over whose family made the better green bean casserole. It was MY show. (We’ll talk about my control issues another day.)
We decided that since it was our first married holiday and my first time to cook the meal, it might be best if just the two of us graced our table. (Secretly, I think Craig was a little worried about inviting people over to share the meal. I regularly set off the smoke detectors in the early days.) So the week before the big day rolled around, I called my sister-in-law to get the recipes. You know..THE recipes…the ones that must appear on the table or it’s not officially Thanksgiving. She was the keeper of said recipes because Mom and Dad were usually overseas and her house was party central. She was so excited and encouraging (again, smoke detectors). She read them off to me and I dutifully copied down every word.
Thanksgiving Day arrived, and I shooed Craig out of the kitchen, put on some tunes, and got to it. I followed those recipes to a T, not altering a single instruction, amount or ingredient. Four hours later, Craig and I sat down to a delicious meal…for TWELVE. Yes, friends, Susie Homemaker didn’t think to look at the quantity and scale it down. I had just fixed a meal large enough for my extended family that was showing up for dinner. In Oklahoma.
Every year when Thanksgiving rolls around I think back to Craig’s eyes as we sat down to an 18 pound turkey and two 9×13 pans of stuffing, green bean casserole, squash casserole, mashed AND sweet potatoes, and two kinds of cranberry sauce. We truly understood the word “bounty” (and “serving size”).
This year we are grateful for so many things. As we pray around our laden table, I’ll offer thanks for our friends, our jobs, and for God’s mighty hand of protection over us. Craig will offer thanks that I finally learned how to cook. And then? Please pass the stuffing.
Greenwood (and now Scates) Family Stuffing
1 8×8 pan of cornbread, cooked and crumbled
1 bag of Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix
4 pieces toasted white bread, crumbled
1 can buttermilk biscuits, cooked and crumbled
4 stalks celery, chopped finely
1 bunch green onion, chopped (green and white parts)
1 stick butter
2 tsp. sage
4-5 C. chicken broth (preferably home-made)
Combine breads and sprinkle with sage. Melt butter and saute chopped celery and onions. Add to bread and sage mixture, and moisten with chicken broth. (I add enough broth until it’s good and wet. It’ll take more or less depending on how your bread is soaking up the liquid that day.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Serves (you guessed it) 12.