Here's a look at what iVillagers fondly remember about special holiday meals:
- A Kind Grandma's Dumplings
My grandmother making her homemade dumplings for Thanksgiving. She'd only use her hands for all the mixing, and she never used a recipe. She pinch and squeeze the dough and then pat it carefully out to the thinnest of strips. The dumplings were never doughy and never got too fat. They were always perfect. She was so kind and loving ... I miss her.
- Lumpy Mashed Potatoes
I remember when I was a kid telling my Mother we must be eating homemade mash potatoes because they had lumps. I meant it as a compliment. I actually like the lumps.
- A Different Specialty for Every Meal
We decided a long time ago that when we go to my mother's house we would share in the cooking responsibilities while we're there so that she didn't have to do any of the work (we all live several hours away and spend at least two or three days together). Each household decides what complete meal they want to prepare -- so this could be breakfast, lunch, or supper on Christmas day. Sometimes we have the traditional turkey/chicken/ham fare, but at Mom's, there is no such thing as just one special meal. We might have Mexican food one meal, Chinese another, lasagna another. One of the favorite nighttime meals is a baked potato bar with ALL the trimmings. Others help the family in charge of the meal with preparation, if they need it, and the preparation crew never has to do cleanup afterward.
Christmas is an extra-special time for all of us, who often are only together that one time of the year, and by sharing the cooking work, everyone has a good time together. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share.
- What We're Thankful for and What We Love
When my husband and I married 10 years ago we didn't know each others' families very well, so when Thanksgiving arrived and we were having dinner at our home I decided to make place cards for each person and write something I was thankful for inside. Then at dinner I had each person read theirs out loud, and anyone could add to it if they wanted to. It was the start of a great tradition that we do with our three sons and our families not only at Thanksgiving but birthdays too. Another thing we added as the years have passed and the children have gotten involved is for each person to have their "turn" where everyone at the table goes around and tells them the things they are thankful about and love about that person. It is the most beautiful thing to hear. It renews our gratitude and love tremendously, and we all love to hear what each person has to say.
- My First Time Cooking for Mom
I was finally on my own, living in one of the small apartments modified from a 100-year-old mansion on the east side of Milwaukee. Even though my mom thought my apartment had to be a dump (sight unseen), she accepted my invitation for Thanksgiving dinner. This was her first visit to my apartment and my first attempt to cook Thanksgiving dinner myself. I was anxious and excited, wondering if she would like my couch, which was Mediterranean style and RED. I loved it.
I had everything ready and reminiscent of meals mom had cooked for years ... herring as an appetizer, turkey, potatoes boiling to be mashed, green beans mixed with cream of mushroom soup and Durkee onions, black olives, cranberry sauce, yams with marshmallows, fruit salad and a store-bought pumpkin pie.
Mom arrived and commented how good everything smelled as she eyed my couch with raised eyebrows and expressed her concern for my taste in furniture.
I asked her to come and talk with me as I removed the turkey from the oven and carved it. She stood at the end of my long, slim kitchen as I stooped to get the turkey from the oven. Without warning, the aluminum pan holding the turkey broke, sending the turkey sliding across the kitchen floor toward my mother. She gracefully stepped out of the way as our turkey landed on the rug at her feet.
For a moment, we were both speechless and then we laughed until tears ran down our faces. We washed off the turkey and the grease from the kitchen floor, having more fun together than we had had in a long time. I am grateful for this joyous memory. A pleasurable Thanksgiving to all.
- Coffee Cake that Reminds Us of Dad
One Christmas tradition in my husband's family was started by his late father. For 25 years the family ran a bakery, started by his grandfather. The one cake the bakery didn't sell was my father-in-law's wonderful coffee cake. That was reserved only for family. Every Christmas my husband or his sister makes this scrumptious cinnamon coffee cake, and every time we smell it baking it reminds us of our dearly missed Herman.
- Our Thanksgiving Home
One of my grandchildren calls our primary residence our "Thanksgiving" home because they come to me every Thanksgiving. Our summer home is our "beach" house. His naming our home makes Thanksgiving a very special holiday for me.
- My Daughter, the Cook
My daughter Katie, who is now 18, has started her own tradition of making batches and batches of fudge in every flavor and chocolate chip cookies in all their variations. These were always her favorites, and when she was young we made them together, usually with some of her friends.
The warmest, most special memories of this time you think will go on forever till you realize that that girl and her friends will be off to college next year. I'm so glad to have made such a mess of the kitchen teaching all the kids in the neighborhood to cook -- Sunday dinners that started in the early morning and ended at the dining room table spread with their beautiful creations. It was such a special, special time, and I'm so glad we had them.
Katie still makes us a special from-scratch anniversary meal each year, working all afternoon with a friend to create yet another exciting meal, always of things we have never tried before, with never any fear of trying a new recipe. Great times and a great girl, independent and confident of her skills and her goals -- the best a mother could hope for.
- Aerin wrote:
My favorite traditions on Thanksgiving are putting that turkey in the oven and then going back to bed and waking up to that wonderful aroma, then combining that aroma with fresh-brewed coffee, turning on the TV for the parade, and finally, finally turning on those long awaited Xmas tunes by the Temptations, the Judds, li'l Stevie Wonder and my six-year-old's favorite, Mariah Carey.
- Italian Thanksgiving
Being Italian, Thanksgiving at our house meant about 15 courses -- from nuts and antipasto to soup with homemade croutons and salad, then pasta, and then turkey. After eating everyone would nap. And then it was time for cake and coffee and pastry. And I remember sitting on my Nana's lap and her giving me small sips of her coffee; the way she drank it was light and SWEET, which is probably why, to this day, I must start my day with my first cup of coffee light and very sweet.