Thanksgiving is a personal holiday. It is pie, and it’s my mom.
My mother is a planner. Before thanksgiving my mom plans. She knows how much flour, butter, eggs, milk, turkey and potatoes she needs for the meal. There are multiple trips to the grocery store and cooking for days. These days are the real thanksgiving. These days contain all of the fun of the holiday. The fun is the work, though most of it is done by my mom. Mom makes most, if not all of the food.
All the while her daughters are fighting, running through the house. When we lived in our old house we would run from the kitchen to the dining area, to the living room, the entryway and back into the kitchen. I can still hear mom telling us, “This is not a racetrack!” as we zipped around and around. I’m not sure how often we got in her way and forced her to drop bowls, ingredients and otherwise, but I don’t remember her ever kicking us out of the kitchen. She is an amazing cook and we all want her food, but I also want to be a part of it.
There are a plethora of pies (more on that later), but there are also rolls. My mom makes rolls from her Mother-in-Law’s recipe. The rolls have to be made in a Tupperware bowl, but not any Tupperware bowl, a specific size, so they raise just right. When I was at home my mom only had one bowl, and it was clearish with a red lid. Now she has a couple, but when I think about the rolls I picture the red lid. I now have my own, it’s red with a red lid. Once they rise perfectly the dough is spread on the counter and cut into circles, often with a drinking glass. Each roll is slightly creased with a knife that has been dipped in melted butter. It is then folded in half. They are the most delicious rolls, perfect texture, with enough flavor to enjoy, but not overwhelm. My mom knows just how much to smoosh the dough, just how brown they should get in the oven and just how to finish them.
Now for the pies.
Dad gets a lemon meringue pie (with extra meringue), my older sister gets a chocolate pie, I get something different every year (my favorite so far was an eggnog cheesecake), the next daughter gets a lemon meringue-less (the extra meringue goes on dad’s) pie, the next girl gets pumpkin chiffon (not baked).
I realize now that she probably did this to avoid the tears that would come if one kid got their favorite pie, but the others did not. Inevitably the child without their favorite would whine about not getting a pie as well. I prefer to think of it as something she did because she wanted us to each to have a pie that was made especially for each of us. It was like a birthday cake, but on a different day of the year. This one act meant we were recognized as HER daughter, as an individual, someone that deserved their favorite type of pie. My family is an overwhelming bunch of people. It is sort of large, and completely crazy. Sometimes it felt like I was lost in this sea of people that I should know, and I should have something in common with, but in reality I was an important individual in an amazing group of individuals. Thanksgiving makes that point, every year.
Thanksgiving is a meal my mom puts more effort into than any other meal the entire year. It’s a day of Mom that follows days of family. Days when we don’t have to pretend, we don’t have to put on masks, we can just be ourselves, celebrating in our home. All of this is what makes November 25, 2010 the only day this year that I wish I could just skip entirely. I can’t have the family time, I don’t get recognized as an individual in a non-verbal, non-ceremonious way. I don’t get the benefits of the love my mom puts into a meal when I’m thousands of miles away and I would rather pretend that it doesn’t happen at all than acknowledge I’m missing it.