Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving is traditionally the time to gather with family and share good times. That works well when family is close, but not so well when they live 1,200 miles away.

When we first moved to Texas, it wasn’t feasible for us to travel to Michigan when the kids just had a short break from school, and most of our relatives preferred to stay home. So it was always a treat when one of the Grandmas would join us for the holiday.

It was nice to have someone with whom to share that special spirit of Thanksgiving, and the kids appreciated having a Grandma all to themselves. No other cousins around clamoring for attention. I appreciated having a Grandma all to myself, too. There's nothing like an extra hand in the kitchen to make one feel like she can conquer anything, including a twenty-five pound turkey.

One year when Mom Miller came for the holiday, the kitchen sharing was a little awkward at first, due to the fact that we didn’t cook together very often. Once every three or four years left a lot of room for verbal stumbling, especially since we were both so busy trying not to offend each other.

"Is this okay?"

"Sure, do it any way you want."

"Well ... I'll do it the way you want."

"In that case ... 1 usually ... but you don't have to .. I mean ... my way isn't necessarily the right way ... "

But after we stopped all that nonsense, things went much better, and I even picked up a couple of helpful hints from Mom:

"Slice your celery on the slant and it won't be stringy.
Seal your onions in a glass jar and they won't stink up the refrigerator."

I considered returning the favor, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't come up with any hints to pass back. I guess I just didn’t have the experience. It seemed like whenever I tried to come up with a brilliant idea in the kitchen I ended up in some kind of mess; like the time I put all my sugar, flour and other powdered stuff in plastic storage containers. It was a mad moment of organization, and I was so busy congratulating myself, I forgot to mark the containers.

When I handed Mom the container  that I thought had powdered sugar for the frosting she was making, I thought she'd be pleased at this obvious sign of incredible organization, and perhaps my efficiency rating had finally risen above a minus ten. But, alas, it was not to be.  And it was a good thing she tasted what was in the bowl before she frosted the cake with the end result.

Granted, the cake was a little crumbly, but it didn't really need wallpaper paste.

Despite the awkwardness, this was a very special time I shared with Mom Miller, and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Gathering as friends and family is so important, and doing so to give thanks for our many blessings just makes it better. Hope everyone has a wonderful day filled with good food and good company.

Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest book is Open Season, which has gotten nice reviews from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly. One Small Victory, is a top seller in the mystery bestseller list at the Amazon Kindle store. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. She will stop playing with her horse and work, honest.

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  1. The value of family is too often overlooked. And the gifts of older ones may be deemed by many to be old-fashioned. Yet every family member - from the youngest to the oldest - brings something special to the table. By appreciating their contributions, we often find it much easier to overlook their shortcomings.

  2. What wonderful memories you have now. Holidays are more special when family is around!

  3. It's always nice to spend holidays with family. But sometimes that CAN create some friction. I used to feel like a little kid again when I went to my mom's, afraid I wouldn't do something the "right" way (her way).

  4. Fun story, Maryann, thanks for (humbly) sharing it! Our family always has such a gaggle that the one year I spent with my best friend and her family--there were only nine of us--seemed like an intimate treat. There is something to be said for seeing all those faces gathered in one place, though, even if meaningful conversation isn't possible!


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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