Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Notebooks

As our grown children began to leave home to join the military, to work away from home, or marry and move away, I wanted a way to send our holiday memories along with them. We compiled all our favorite recipes and our traditional concoctions and decorations into a notebook for each of the older ones. Just reading over our typical menu list brings smells of cinnamon and nutmeg, turkey and sweet potato baking, the sound of the mixer mashing the potatoes and the trays of food being carried out to the patio. Usually, here in Southern California, we can still eat our meal outside, enjoying the crisp, fresh fall air, the leaves drifting down from the trees. Our feast is a together time. Family members sign up for different dishes, everyone playing their part in getting it all on the table, ready to share.

 It took us a couple of weeks to make these notebooks. At that time, living in the Colorado mountains, we didn't have access to copiers or printers, so we hand copied all the recipes, the stencils and the artwork. Some of the kids were still pretty small, but they could color in stencils or add stickers. It was a fun, though lengthy project with colored papers, markers, colored pencils and some old photos used to create a simple record of  the memories we have shared, together.

I pull out my own copy each year for the holidays. With spouses, new places, they are willing to try new versions, new flavors. From home, they want the traditional, the usual, the familiar. Whenever I try to be creative, they remind me that they want the same old foods. That's fine, it keeps things simple for me, and keeps me focused on the family rather than a fancy display.
 I am grateful for that.

There are notes on the pages, doubled for a big crowd, or memories tied to the recipe. Did you notice on the Sally's Dip recipe, the note to not spend all afternoon eating it before Thanksgiving dinner? It is yummy, and the kids snacked so much they could barely touch their feast. After that Thanksgiving, we would use Sally's Dip (named for the aunt who prepared it) as an easy Sunday afternoon lunch, a full meal in itself.

                         Gobble Goodies are our favorite, edible table decoration.
Now, we are too spread out, with various jobs and responsibilities limiting the schedules to have everyone get together for the holidays. I'm grateful we took the time to compile these notebooks, full of memories and fun. I am grateful for the years, for the times together. It's been good.

To my family, I am grateful for each one of you.
To all of you, a happy, blessed Thanksgiving week.

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