Thanksgiving is almost here, the holiday season is upon us! Honestly, it’s my favorite time of the year. Even with all of the craziness that goes along with being busy, I consider it to be the time of year that people seem to be a little more kind, tolerant, and most of all, thankful.
I will tend to blog more in the next several weeks. How can I not? Memories come in like a flood for me during the holidays. Traditions, family stories, get togethers…so many things that make my heart a little more open. It always trails back to one area the most…thankfulness!
Growing up as a coal miner’s daughter, I didn’t consider us “poor” by no means, although we were probably closer to it at times that I realized. My Daddy always worked in the mines, he always provided for us. Thankfulness. His work was mostly steady, but there were times that we endured “coal strikes” that seemed to last forever. During that time, if you were in the union.. and a strike was going on, you didn’t work and therefore, you didn’t get paid. I can’t remember the longest one? but I just knew when I heard the word “coal strike” you knew it was fixing to get a little skinny.
I can honestly and thankfully say, that I do not know what it is like to go hungry. I hope I never know. But I can tell you that I can very well remember two large bins in our kitchen that held us through some of those lean times. Flour and potatoes housed in those bins made more of an assortment of meals than I could have imagined. If it could be made with those two ingredients? my mother would cook it. Actually, I am surprised that I can eat potatoes and gravy to this day! Fried, mashed, boiled, baked and always with flour that made gravy! Thankfully, it was always enough. Contentment was being taught early on, life lessons that you can’t learn anywhere else.
Thanksgiving was less than a week away, the strike was in full swing. We were blessed to know a local businessman that owned a small grocery store that allowed us to “charge” things from time to time. Wow, to think of how many families he helped during his lifetime, is still amazing to me.
My mother and grandmother always cooked together. Holiday dinner was one of the favorite things they shared and yes, they were some awesome cooks! I remember the mood was not quite as exciting as usual this year, but after all, everyone was having a rough time with so many out of work. I overheard the two talking and the only thing I can remember is their words? What are we going to do? We don’t even have a turkey! I will never forget my mothers words to my grandmother. “Well, we are going to have Thanksgiving Dinner, that’s for sure.. we just have to get a little more creative!” Was I worried? Oh yeah! No turkey, meant no thanksgiving, but I also knew that they were determined.
That entire day I noticed them unloading the cabinets. Will this work? No? What about this? Yes, we can do something with that…..my mood lightened because whatever they were conjuring up? they were doing it with thankfulness and determination. Before the day was out, Dad came through the door with a pie that a neighbor had given him.. Aha! dessert. It was starting to remind me of the Bible story – feeding the five thousand! Surely, God will make a way for a small number of us also! Faith grew.. Thankfulness grew.
I can’t tell you what trimmings we had that year, other than they found a box of Stovetop Stuffing mix. I remember we had a pie for dessert. What I do remember the most? Not that we didn’t have a turkey, but the fact that my mother and grandmother decided that if you could stuff a turkey? why couldn’t you stuff a frying hen? That’s right, we had a chicken in the freezer! and after all, it was the same principle? What I remember most about that chicken, is hearing them giggle in the kitchen while stuffing that thing. Thankfulness, and contentment! They were determined not to let the absence of Tom Turkey put a damper on our holiday. It was the first and last “stuffed” chicken I have ever eaten, but it was no doubt the most memorable! Never have I experienced a meal that was more thoughtful, or baked and roasted with more love! It’s no wonder when my momma and I first saw a cooking show with “stuffed” Cornish hens as a delicacy..oh yeah, we giggled some more.. She was ahead of her time on that one!
Years went by, and Thanksgiving after that always included at least a 25lb turkey and all the trimmings, Daddy was an awesome cook with his delicious ham cooking alongside momma but it seemed that our dinner conversation would always go back to “remember when” about that stuffed chicken! We reminded ourselves to be thankful in all things… even all things poultry!
Don’t miss the opportunity to be thankful…and when my turkey goes in the oven this year? I will feel a little tug on my heartstrings to put as much love into cooking for my family as they did. Be thankful.. in ALL things!