If you saw me when I was about 10 years old, you might ask the same thing my mom asked, “Where does it all go?”
I’ve always been the smallest, shorter one of the bunch, but I could still keep up with my brothers at the dinner table.
I always had a love for good food, (of which I gladly blame on my parents), so it is no surprise that when it comes to family gatherings involving food, Thanksgiving has been my absolute favorite since I was about 10.
Before then, my Mexican family didn’t make a big deal about this day in November mainly because it isn’t much acknowledged in Mexico. It was always around my older brother’s birthday so just a regular meal and birthday cake did the trick.
Although I love my mom’s cooking, she wasn’t too familiar with turkey, stuffing or any of those Thanksgiving staples.
After my parents divorced, the best thing I got from the deal were my step-aunts and their cooking. The first Thanksgiving with my step-family really opened my eyes to all the goodness (and food) of the holiday.
And being a growing child, I took it all in – literally.
Sure I loved running around the yard and playing with my siblings and cousins but before anyone was even called to the table, I knew and was the first one sitting down preparing for the feast.
I am also a slow eater, painful to many, but I love to savor every bite and morsel so I was also always the last one at the table, especially after having seconds, sometimes thirds.
My step-aunts and family had all the essentials down - turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, potato salad, green bean casserole, beets, yams, watergate salad, pumpkin pie with cool whipped topping, and more – and they made it all look so easy for a kid like me.
Once I moved back in with my mom and didn’t have those Thanksgiving lunches with my step-family anymore, I still craved the ham, the potatoes and oh the watercress salad.
So we eventually convinced my mom to start having a Thanksgiving meal.
We invited neighbors and family friends and they brought something to the gathering. My mom made the ham. Sure, she used a canned ham, canned pineapple and canned cherries, but she made such a juicy, sweet ham, it was like she’d been doing it for years.
The brown sugar was her secret I think. It’s still my all-time favorite ham.
Every year after then, we added something more or just got more creative with the stuffing or pies, adding different ingredients or techniques.
Then once my brothers moved out, one by one, to get married and start their own family, there were more options of where to celebrate the holiday, which gave my mom some relief from being the main chef.
I still beg her to make her ham though, even if it’s not Thanksgiving. There’s always Christmas, Ma.
Since I am more of a baker, I now love to try something new to share at the Thanksgiving table. Sometimes it’s a variation of a pumpkin dessert or something for the non-pumpkin lovers, but it’s always tasty. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY? FAVORITE THANKSGIVING DISH?
SHARE YOUR THANKSGIVING FEAST STORIES BELOW and…
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!