November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve

David Sands Turkey Garden Flag
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 Today I am thinking of my childhood Thanksgiving's. We had plain country cooking. Nothing fancy, my grandmother surely did not agree with my mama's thinking that oysters went into dressing. She did agree that sage did. We always had the greenest, dressing in the south. We did not have a turkey most of the time. Ham was the meat for the day. This was because we had most of the time killed hogs once, before Thanksgiving. The climate was much cooler then. We had snow more often than now. The first freezing forcast from H.D. Bagley was the signal to kill a hog. H. D. Bagley was on channel 19, the only station  we watched, because my grandfather said that changing the channels made the television set wear out. To this day that theory of his pisses me off. I used to sneak and change channels just for my own satisfaction. Whatever he said about not changing channels did not matter, H. D. Bagley was the weather expert of the day. Even now, I hear people call someone "H. D." when they are spouting off the latest and greatest, what they heard on the weather. It was not cold at all some of the Thanksgiving Day's when I was a child. The six grandchildren often played football in the frontyard. I was left sitting watching on occasion, because I often had tonsilitis. In pictures I am shocked at how pale I look in many of them. We had greenbeans that we had canned in the summer. These were white half runner greenbeans, the only greenbean my grandmother thought there was. They were the best greenbeans that I ever tasted. She always salted them a bunch. The lard we had made from the fat of the hogs made them even better. There was never any water left in them. We almost fried them in the pot before we considered them ready to eat. My girls even forty years later think the only way to have greenbeans is to cook all the water out.
The desert for the day was a coconut cake. Since then have I never had the same cake that my grand mother considered the perfect coconut cake. The icing was the hard candy kind. She did not have confectioners sugar, so it was the boil water and sugar together type of icing she made for all cakes. The difference at Thanksgiving was that she sprinkled coconut from a can on top of the icing. Most of the time the coconut had been in the freezer all year long.

Turkey Trot
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It was a good day if we made it and all the men stayed close to sober. That was always my grandmother's prayer for the day. After dinner we played checkers or rummy. Rummy was a game that I was great at. We didn't call it gin rummy and I still don't know if that was the same game or not? Daddy was always the funniest person to beat. He hated it when the kids beat him. In later years there was a game called cross over the bridge, we got from Santa that we played on Thankgiving. My grandmother would even play that with us. Mama never did play the games with us she was not good at games. She always did seem happy to watch us. Thanksgiving was a very special day for a family that did not seem to have much special love for one another the rest of the year. Christmas was even better, the presents that grandmother always rounded up for us made me not notice the world around me.

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