This time of year always makes me somewhat melancholy for my childhood Thanksgivings when our entire family would congregate and work together to make the meal. It included everyone–grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and an open invitation to anyone who wanted to come.
I wish I could go back in time and fully appreciate every single second. One particularly memorable Thanksgiving was held at Aunt Kay and Uncle Mike’s farm. The small farmhouse was bursting with family love, laughter, and children’s shenanigans. Every surface of kitchen counter was filled with savory dishes in queue for the oven. The familiar smells of sage in Granny’s dressing, nutmeg and cinnamon in the sweet potatoes (the old-fashioned kind with marshmallows on top), and the crispy onions on top of the green bean casserole were all intermingled with boiling potatoes, simmering beef, and the delicious scent of roasting turkey. There was a cold dish section with Granny’s Waldorf apple salad, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs dashed with paprika, and a dish Mom made with whipped cream, cottage cheese, and pistachio pudding. The dessert table fulfilled every sweet-tooth’s dream with Aunt Kay’s homemade cherry pies, pumpkin pies, apple pies, sugar cream pies, various cookies, and Mom’s pineapple upside down cake. A huge relish tray was on the dining room table to tame watering mouths while the aroma of the meal filled the family home.
The beef slowly cooked on the stove would be prepared with a thick broth and Granny’s homemade noodles. A beef and noodle dish at the holidays was normal for our family. When I graduated college, moved from home, and attended many ‘Friendsgivings’ away from my family, the beloved beef and noodles was not included. One year, I asked the hostess if I could contribute the dish to the meal. She said, “I’ve never heard of those at Thanksgiving before.”
Once I discovered homemade beef and noodles weren’t part of a ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving, I asked my grandmother about them. She laughed. “We’ve had them since Margie was a little girl. I don’t know why we still fix them. It’s actually funny, now that I think about it.”
My grandmother had three sisters. The first three daughters were rather close in age, but the youngest was born about eleven years later. Baby sister was Margaret–or Margie as she was affectionately nicknamed. Great grandma would make a wonderful Thanksgiving spread every year, but Margie didn’t particularly care for turkey and refused to eat it. My great grandmother added Margie’s favorite dish to the holiday meal so she’d have something she enjoyed, which was beef and noodles.
Granny said she recalled her mother making beef and noodles even if Margie and her family were unable to spend Thanksgiving at ‘home.’ It was also heartwarming to learn her sisters, Aunt Vada and Aunt Jean, continued the tradition of making the dish for holiday meals. It’s a unique family tradition that’s continued through the ensuing generations.
Big family Thanksgivings don’t happen anymore since everyone is spread all over the United States and making it to one location is difficult. I’m so thankful those childhood memories are ones that include all five senses and overwhelm my heart with love.
I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband’s side of the family this year, and we’ll enjoy the unique traditions of his childhood. I’m almost positive the menu won’t include beef and noodles, but I’m fairly certain one of my siblings or our cousins will be serving it at their dinner table. I’m proud we still occasionally uphold the tradition, since it’s just a few years shy of 100 years.
Since many loved ones have passed from my most memorable Thanksgiving, it’s still a bittersweet memory. It reminds me of the many blessings in life–the most important are family and friends and the loved shared, no matter the traditions. Most of all, I’m thankful for the blessing of waking up to another day in which to feel the love, spread the love, and appreciate my loved ones before they aren’t here anymore.
To those reading this, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. I wish you many wonderful and beautiful blessings always.
Does your family have an odd tradition which has carried throughout the years? Do you have a favorite childhood Thanksgiving?
Bless and Be Blessed.
P.S. Thank you, Aunt Margie. Love and hugs to you, sweet lady.
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