Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Missing at Thanksgiving

As I get older, Thanksgiving evokes more and more memories of time with my loved ones over the years, and all the things I miss so dearly.

I miss my mom's cooking. I can mostly duplicate her Thanksgiving meal but somehow it will never quite taste the same as hers - and maybe it's right that it never will. I don't believe I'll ever be able to duplicate her pie crust, although she did try to show me once when I asked. I even miss the annoying habit she had of cooking all day in her housecoat and then not bothering to change for dinner. All of that and much more will be the Thanksgiving memories of her that will last and stay with me.

Anyone who knows me well knows how I miss my dad. I don't want to cry and type so I'll leave it at that.

I have three much older siblings who, by the time I started having real memories of Thanksgiving, were already away at college and then eventually living somewhere out of state. So Thanksgiving for me meant They Were Coming Home. I'll never forget the anticipation of that. Waiting at the big picture window to see my big brothers and my sister coming down the long driveway to join us for a long weekend of time together. We still get together for holidays, but that feeling of missing them so much and having them come home to spend treasured hours together is something I haven't had in years and years and I know a lot of people can relate to it.

I am thinking today of the little sisters and brothers who have a sibling who will be missing from that table at Thanksgiving forever. The young, brave hearts who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country whose absence will always be felt. The parents who probably can't get through listening to this song:

May God bless their families.


Michael Haz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Haz said...

I'm getting a bit teary-eyed here. My grandparents are gone, my dad passed this year and my mom isn't doing well.

We lost my kid brother when he was 35, my brother-in-law at 50 and my favorite cousin at 32.

But as life changes, we move on and keep those memories in our hearts. I'm now the third-oldest in the extended family, a fact not lost on me.

Darcy, thank you for a wonderful post, and Happy thanksgiving to you and your family.

AllenS said...

That was beautiful, Darcy.

XRay said...

Lovely, Darcy. Perfect pitch.

edutcher said...

Very nice post, Darcy, but it's life's way we fill those empty spaces with friends and our own new families.

And, of course, the ones we lose are never really gone. They live on in the stories we remember and retell.

The Dude said...

Well written Darce.

Aridog said...

Very nice and reflective of many families.

I will say that one of my best holidays ever was in Korea long ago when my unit sponsored Thanksgiving dinner for a local orphanage. I loved it....almost a hundred happy laughing children. Funny that I recall it so fondly since I'm not known as a kid friendly person usually. (Unless they're brave and like our big dogs)

The best part: none of us got dysentery :-))

ndspinelli said...

Darcy, You're making all of us rough and tumble dudes cry like little girls. That was from your soul, and it's a good and generous one.

ndspinelli said...

I'm guessing the pie crust was made w/ lard?

ndspinelli said...

And contrary to you, I LOVE that your mom wore her housecoat. I guess I must love her more than you!!! A little guilt for you.

chickelit said...

Just beautiful, Darcy.

I'm reminded of a friend and neighbor and the story he told of when his dad passed away near Thanksgiving several years ago. He is the youngest of four brothers and was a Marine in Iraq when he got the bad news. He was able to make it back the day of funeral - back to a small farm in Iowa. His mother lit up when her youngest showed up just before the funeral in his dress blues - joining his two older brothers also home on leave and dressed in their best - one from the Army and the other also a Marine. The old man had three uniformed pallbearers which must have been quite a sight.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving all!

Shouting Thomas said...

Yes, I miss my late wife, Myrna, a brilliant soul, and my father, an icon of charity and decency. My best friend from all the way back to grade school, Dana, is very sorely missed.

I miss them every day, but particularly during the holidays.

May the circle be unbroken.

Icepick said...

Not so oddly, Thanksgiving for me is about me and my wife and our cats and the last few years our daughter, too. When we moved in together, we decided that first year to stay at our apartment for Thanksgiving. We were in college, planned on going home for Christmas, and didn't want to lose time traveling and visiting so close to finals. It became our holiday tradition.

Tomorrow will mark our 19th together. She has perfected her turkey, and I can honestly say I've never had better. Her actual cooking work started last night and will reach a fever pitch tomorrow. Sometime tomorrow I will start a very, very long session of washing dishes. (No dishwashing machine in our old house.) At some point I will finally collapse to watch football. We'll have a bottle of our favorite wine, naps will be had, cats will eat their scraps, and all will be right with the world.

With luck I will be over whatever it was thathad me so sick yesterday. With luck we will hear good news from friends regarding health, my nephew will have a good time with his soon-to-be in-laws, and maybe, just maybe, I'll discover I got three numbers on the lotto ticket I bought today.

ricpic said...

Thanks Darce.

All the years I was growing up I suffered Daddy hunger. He was a a family doctor, old school, which meant I barely saw him during the week. Even on Sundays he could be called away suddenly to the hospital. But Thanksgiving he was there.

Icepick said...

Lard makes most baked goods better.

YoungHegelian said...

One of the best Thanksgiving reminiscences I've ever read, Darcy. Very nicely done!

Happy Thanksgiving to you & the rest of the commenters here!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Lovely post Darcy. We no longer have "big" Thanksgiving family get togethers. Actually, remembering back, as a child, I don't think we really ever did have many. Our families were so scattered all over the US and in other countries. It just wasn't possible. So, it was mostly just our family together sometimes at home or traveling to someplace to vacation over the school holiday time.

I don't think we had many of the traditional feasts either. Occasionally a turkey and all that type of meal....but more often we would have Dungeness Crab, home made lasagna and/or roasted ducks, geese (domestic) or rib roasts.

Thanksgiving is rather sad right now for my father since he is the "last one standing" in his family of seven siblings. I don't suppose he wants to think about it and this is why they are off on another cruise through the Panama Canal.

bagoh20 said...

I do love the stories around the holidays. Gonna start hearing the Christmas songs this week , and that always brings back memories that I can taste and smell and feel all over again.

BTW, I invented Christmas.

bagoh20 said...

I hope you all have a great holiday season. I plan on going nowhere but the local mountains and in front of my fireplace. Usually this is travel season for me, but it's just too crowded during the holidays. Gonna just chill for a change.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

Thank you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Darcy said...

Thanks, everyone! Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Darcy said...

And lol, Nick.

You gotta picture the sagging knee high stockings, too. :)

My's complicated, but she was wonderful and warm and weird and thin-skinned and loyal and lovely.

The housecoat thing drove me nuts because she insisted we all dress up and would keep saying that she was going to get dressed as soon as dinner was done. Rarely happened. But I'd take her sitting at the table in her housecoat today all disheveled, for sure.

Ah Pooh said...

Beautiful post - thank you so much.

Ah Pooh said...

Beautiful post - thank you so much.

Icepick said...

BTW, I invented Christmas.


Darcy said...

My mom used shortening for her pie crust.

And DBQ, your various menus sound delicious. I love rib roast.

Hugs to Michael, Shouting Thomas, and to everyone here that is missing a loved one this time of year.

ndspinelli said...

Darcy, Thanks for sharing your mom. Mine was also an iconoclast. She had the most unabashed love of children I have ever seen. She had used Kleenex in every pocket, shirtsleeve and bra. And, when she walked she farted w/ each step. My kids would piss their pants when she did it. She couldn't hear the farts so she figured no one else could.

Lem said...

Beautiful post, Darcy.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

ndspinelli said...

In my brides next book, Taken BY SURPRISE, Caroline's mother-in-law is my mom. There are bits of real people in all the characters, but the mother-in-law IS Minnie Spinelli. It should be on Amazon by 12/15. I think it's better than the first, and I'm one objective mofo. Sixty has read it, he too is objective. I am interested in his take sans any spoilers. He gets an acknowledgement for his valuable input.

The Dude said...

Well, how about that - something else to be thankful for - kind words from Spinelli.

My review will be glowing, should I ever write one. Leslyn's first novel was a great read - her second novel is simply outstanding. She has a real knack for capturing personalities, bringing them alive on the page, then putting those characters into situations that I am sure many of us would recognize and empathize with.

Perhaps Nick could be so kind as to let us all know when it will be published - I think it would make an excellent gift for anyone who wants to read a good book.

Trooper York said...

What a great post Darcy.

You are a wonderful addition to the blog.

I miss the people that are gone but I always make sure to enjoy the people that are still with us. That is what Thanksgiving is to me. Giving Thanks for all the great things we have and the people we have to share it with.

Trooper York said...

Also I will be wearing a housecoat.

Less dangerous than a robe. Just sayn'

Darcy said...

I hope it's short-sleeved, Troop. :P

And thank you.

The Dude said...

It is now.

Darcy said...

And that was a hilarious post about your mom, Nick. LOL

Darcy said...

Oh...Sixty. lol

ndspinelli said...

Sixty, Leslyn really likes your perspective and appreciates your kind words. Amazon has it and the minute it hits the presses, I'll let all know. However, you have a signed copy coming your way.

Trooper York said...

I can't wait to print some excepts.

"Taken by Surprise" is a very promising title.

I bet it has a lot of stories about borrowed dogs in Madison Wisconsin who get an big surprise.

Especially the blind ones.

john said...

You can't substitute real butter for shortening. My wife would not buy Crisco for years because of Upton Sinclair, but back in the days of us being yuppies and dinks we never baked things anyway. It was all take out unless we cooked in a wok. Then it was no butter in the house either. Used to be you could buy margarine, which we called oly in Minnesota (after Sven and Ole jokes), and oleo in Pennsylvania, where my wife's from. Then margarine somehow got replaced by "spread", which might be something else indeed, that has no flavor. But we wouldn't be caught with that in the house either. We had standards.

But now that we are getting old and should be paying attention to that getting old stuff, were back to real butter and shortening like our moms used to have. And the baking isn't half bad (or half baked), if I do say so myself.

Nice Thanksgiving post Darcy. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Now I am off to meet friends for Irish coffee.

john said...

Limbaugh said new research shows we can drink like a fish and not gain weight from the alcohol. Good to know. I'm gonna make sure they use real whipped cream on that coffee instead of the spray can stuff.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I feel very blessed in that my father is still alive and doing very well at 84. My Daughter just had a second child. Two Grandchildren beautiful, healthy, smartest evah Grandkids now: a boy and girl. We got to see them just a few weeks ago. My daughter has a kickass job. She and the Son in law are (or seem to be) very happy. My brother is nearby although we don't visit as often as we can he is doing well and is ready to retire in good financial shape.

I do miss my mother and wish that I had gotten to know her better as an adult, not just a parent, before she died about 30 years ago. Mu husband and I are healthy, mostly. Our business and finances are improving. We have not many friends but those that we have are true and lasting friendships.

And we just became adopted by a very funny and social cat who had been abandoned in our rural area...poor baby. Yes....he chose us.

So our Thanksgiving is full of thanks.

What is a housecoat? a robe?

AllenS said...

Yeah, I was wondering what a housecoat was, also. Funny, my father wore boxer shorts, and as near as I can remember (it was a long time ago) during the summer he sometimes wore them outside, and I suppose he thought "hey they look just like regular shorts".

I now do the same thing.

Darcy said...

Yeah, it's like a robe with a snap front. I don't know if they even sell them anymore. lol

Sounds like you have a lot to be thankful for, DBQ. Made me smile.

AllenS said...

A friend of mine that I've known a very long time, sent me this via email. I thought I'd share --

1. Be thankful for growing older. Not everyone gets this opportunity. Aging with health and grace is a rare and beautiful gift.

2. Be thankful that you can read these words. It is a very sad thing that many people do not have the ability to read.

3. If you have to wait in line at the supermarket for your Thanksgiving dinner, be thankful that you can afford what you want to eat and have a convenient place to buy it. We are all aware of the many people waiting in line to have a meal at the local homeless shelter.

4. Be thankful for the ability to pay your bills, even if it means that you have to give up some things that you want. Remember that having basic needs met is a luxury for many people.

5. If you have to get up before dawn to get to work, be thankful that you get to see another sunrise and have a job to go to. Think about what it would be like if you slept everyday until noon and spent the rest of your waking hours wondering what to do with your life.
6. When you're stuck in traffic, be thankful you have a car to get where you need to go and money to buy gas. Standing in the rain while waiting for a bus is, at the very least, uncomfortable.

7. When the kids are screaming at each other, be thankful that you have children to love and who love you, and remember that at least some of the time, they do get along. There will always be bumps in the road, but they are usually followed by easier times.

8. When your mate is acting grumpy or giving you a hard time, be thankful for having love in your life and someone to grow old with. A life partner is something that less than half the population has. Having your partner is a blessing that needs to be counted several times.

9. When your parents are telling you how to run your life, be thankful that you still have them around. If they are no longer with you, take a moment to be thankful for the time you had with them.

10. When you sit down with your loved ones for your Thanksgiving dinner, be thankful for everyone and everything that makes it possible. Look your family and friends in the eye and express to them your gratitude for sharing this wonderful time together.

Thanksgiving is a very special holiday. Embrace those around you and your ability to give thanks to those you love.

Darcy said...

And why not, Allen? :)

Darcy said...

Why not wear boxer shorts outside, I meant. Now let me read your post above...

john said...

It's because the fly tends to open and things are kind'a flopping out there for the neighbors to see.

Leastwise, that's why my wife told me to stop walking around dressed like that.

AllenS said...

John makes a good point.

Michael Haz said...

John must not live where it's cold at Thanksgiving. Cold weather reduces floppage.

Michael Haz said...

My grandparents, all of whom lived well into their 80s and 90s had several things in common.

They all ate lard, either in baked goods or because of deep frying at home. In fact, they rendered their own lard from hogs they raised for food. Pie crusts without lard? sacrilege! Donuts deep fried in lard? Like angels sitting on your shoulder, feeding you God's own pastry.

They all ate bacon grease (which is probably a form of lard, I suppose). Their breakfast included a big chunk of home made bread tossed into the bacon pan until the bread became crisp. Then they salted it and ate it.

They all drank wine and beer, every day. Milk was for children, water was for cooking, cleaning and bathing, and wine was for drinking at every meal.

There was no such thing as junk food or processed food, at least in their homes. Everything was grown in the garden and preserved, or bought from a farmer.

The ones who lived long never smoked. The ones who smoked mostly died before age 60.

They sat still at mealtime and after sunset. Otherwise, it was keep working and keep moving. Television, when it finally arrived, was watched after everyone's work was finished, and of Friday nights after supper.

Everyone laughed big hearty laughs, everyday. Most of them prayed every day.

None of the elders would tolerate a squeak out of anyone in the house when Paul Harvey was on the radio. I thought Paul Harvey was a waste of time, until I discovered in my late 20s that I was listening to him every day at noon and hated it when anyone made noise.

Michael Haz said...

I have a sudden urge to watch Avalon tonight or tomorrow.

ndspinelli said...

Haz, Avalon and Planes Trains and Automobiles are great Thanksgiving movies.

ndspinelli said...

I am happy to announce, as of 15 minutes ago, Taken By Surprise, by Leslyn Amthor Spinelli, is available on Amazon.

The Dude said...

Spinelli - please convey my congratulations to Leslyn - may she have great success with her great book.

Now go buy it, read it, give a copy to your loved ones - you will not be disappointed.

chickelit said...

I should do a chemistry/biochemistry post on lard, trans fats and fats in general.

bagoh20 said...

Since I bought my Mom the first one and she really liked it, this novel will be heading her way soon. Congrats Spinellis! Maybe someday I can meet a girl who can write. I'm still looking for one who can read without moving her lips.

rcocean said...

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Take a turkey, stuff it fat,
Some of this and some of that.
Get some turnips, peel them well.
Cook a big squash in its shell.
Now potatoes, big and white,
Mash till they are soft and light.
Cranberries, so tart and sweet,
With the turkey we must eat.
Pickles-yes-and then, oh my!
For a dessert a pumpkin pie,
Golden brown and spicy sweet.
What a fine Thanksgiving treat!

Unknown said...

My mom still makes lard pie crust.

Michael Haz said...

To my surprise, there are no reviews yet for Leslyn Spinelli's new novel. I thought that by this time a reviewer would have made drunken aspersions about Mr. Spinelli.

Must be on the down cycle.

ndspinelli said...

Haz, She knows she's being monitored for libel.

blake said...

Very nice, Dar.

I'm thankful for your mother's fecundity. :-)

rcommal said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. Great kickoff for Thanksgiving day! Thanks.

Christy said...

Great post, Darcy. I've loved everyone's comments, too. I should have been moved by the remembrances of a much younger sibling, but my much younger sister worked that vein from the time she was 13. "I don't really know you. You were gone when I was 3. Why don't you fly me up and we'll do a week in Philladelphia getting to know each other? DC? The Beach? The ski resort? I grouse, but she is, decades later, my favorite traveling companion.

Housecoats are still available. Just bought my 86 yo mom one for her birthday. She is always cold and I wanted to replace the raggedy old shirt she wears over everything. Thought the heavy navy house coat with some nice design features would tempt her. Didn't work.

I'm leaving shortly for her house with Buttermilk Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Banana Pudding, and Pumpkin Biscuits (great for leftover ham sandwiches.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

My mom still makes lard pie crust.

Lard crust for a one crust pie for those of you who are just starting today.

Made my pies yesterday. I'm all done for today's orgy of food, with the exception of assembling the scalloped potato casserole that will cook at the same time as the standing rib roast. Assemble a blue cheese, apple, pecan, dried cherry and tossed green salad at the very last.

One crust pie:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup lard

Whirl around in a food processor

4 to 5 tbsp COLD water. Add gradually through the feed tube until it comes together. Add less than more. Too much and your crust is soggy

Roll out on a floured board. Turning and keeping the underside floured to stop it from sticking. Roll from the center outward lightly, you don't need much pressure, and alternating around the circle to keep the crust even and circular. To pick up the crust, start at one side and loosely roll up over the rolling pin and then unroll into the pie pan. Gently center and pat down into the bowl of the pan. Trim excess over 1 to 1 1/2 inches hanging over the edge. Gently roll the excess, under itself all around the edges and then flute. Refrigerate the crust until you are ready to fill and bake.

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL.
Tah dah!!

Unknown said...

Thanks, DBQ.

deborah said...

Thank you, Darcy.

Darcy said...

rcommal! Thank you.

And thanks everyone. I enjoyed all of the memories and traditions shared.