Our family loves Thanksgiving. We are one family among a multitude who agree that it is a wonderful holiday. No matter how many problems we have during the year, it is so good to spend some time being grateful for all that has gone right, to take the time to count our blessings and to do it in the company of those we love as we sit around a table full of wonderful food.
Our adult children are in agreement that it is a great holiday. They have different reasons. One says there is no pressure to give or receive the right gifts. Another thinks it is special because the entire house doesn't have to be decorated ahead of time. Yet another is happy about Thanksgiving because no one is targeted for the singing of a required song (as in Happy Birthday To You). And all say the meal is a highlight of the year. Everyone loves turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, dressing, buttered corn, cabbage slaw, homemade rolls and pumpkin and apple pie.
We have other items on the menu every Thanksgiving that are never fail to come up for discussion. Some like sweet potatoes, others pass them by. The one thing on the Thanksgiving table that I consider absolutely necessary as an accompaniment to turkey is cranberry relish. Unfortunately, I am the only one in our family or extended family who likes it. This year there will be 30 at our table and I stand out as the only cranberry lover in the group. I know this and yet I make a big bowl of the relish every year holding out hope that someone else will learn to appreciate it.
For many years I really didn't like making it. We had to grind the cranberries and oranges in a food grinder that hooked up to the cupboard. There was always a lot of juice that splattered the cupboard during the grinding. It was a messy job. Now that I have an electric food processer the operation is much simpler and I enjoy making it as much as I enjoy eating it.
We serve our meal family style. When the lovely cut-glass bowl of cranberry is about to be passed around it will be announced, "Here it comes." Then it is passed from one to another to see how fast it can make it around the table and back to mom. It makes no stops on its way to me. The gang calls it our traditional rite of passage. They can laugh but I don't care. I want my cranberries.
Some years ago my daughter and my niece got together to honor their grandma by putting all her favorite recipes into a family cookbook. She had two tin boxes containing over 480 recipes she called favorites that she saved during her 80+ years of cooking and baking for family and friends. The girls typed up all of them and added their parents' favorites as well as those of their uncles, aunts and cousins to make a really special book for all of us. It is the book we turn to most often when planning a menu for family celebrations. I make my cranberry relish using Grandma's recipe printed in the book. She had a note with the recipe: This will keep for weeks in the refrigerator. The cookbook has similar personal remarks or observations following other recipes.
The girls put Grandma's comment in just as she had noted it on her recipe card but added one of their own. They said: We both remember seeing this dish at Thanksgiving dinner at her house but neither of us remembers ever eating any of it. That is probably why grandma knew how long it would keep. It was still in her refrigerator as a leftover 3 weeks after the main event.
We will sit together at this year's table with grateful hearts for the wonderful banquet ahead of us. I dare say there will come a day when at least one of my offspring discovers the beauty and taste treat a serving of bright red relish brings to a plate of turkey and mashed potatoes. That will give me one more reason to give thanks.