“Women All Over America…”

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When I was a little girl, we traditionally celebrated Thanksgiving with my maternal grandparents and my mother’s sister and her husband. This is the last picture I have of the four of us, taken about thirty years ago. My mother is in her favorite shade of blue. I see here how alcoholism has robbed my aunt of her looks but not her incredible spirit. My beloved grandmother is almost blind from glaucoma. It was Thanksgiving, although I have no memories of that specific occasion, being newly separated and still mourning a miscarried baby. We were a family and had gathered to celebrate the holiday.

Our Thanksgivings were all about the cooking and baking, the serving and the clean-up. My dad, grandfather and uncle were around, of course, but the action was in the family kitchen. It was a hectic day there with Mama, Moo Moo and Ann, who all adored me and made sure to include me in all the preparations. I felt surrounded by their love and embraced by the good spirit of the occasion.

Every Thanksgiving morning began with stuffing the turkey and sliding it into the oven. My maternal grandmother, who I named “Moo Moo” shortly after my first birthday, always said the same thing: “Just think, women all over America are putting turkeys in their ovens for their families”.

As I grew older and began spending the holiday away from home, there would always be at a family phone call and my mother and I would recite Moo Moo’s Thanksgiving line. Actually, there wasn’t a Thanksgiving that went by without all of us saying the same thing to one another.

The years continued to roll by until we lost, first, Moo Moo. My aunt had a stroke and died over ten years ago. Four years ago, I spent Thanksgiving in a hospital room, watching my mother, dying of lung cancer, as she slid into a coma. I tried to remind her, “Just think…” but she was past hearing me that sad, lonely day.

This year, I feel quite certain that my mother will hear me talking out loud in my kitchen, reciting my grandmother’s sweet words of so long ago. And the other women in my family will be listening too.

I will have made a pie in the same dish Mama always used for our pumpkin pie, and there will be a batch of cranberry sauce in her bright blue ceramic bowl. The bowl of paper-whites that my mother always “forced” this time of year are just about to pop open. For the first time since she died, I have promised myself to use her beautiful white and gold Spode dishes. Larry will pour the wine in the family’s Scottish thistle goblets and we will toast one another, our friends, and our loved ones no longer sitting at the table with us.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and the women in your family. Love and cherish them, as they do you.

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27 Responses to “Women All Over America…”

  1. jaynerly November 22, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Wow such a well written, emotional, lovely post! Liz I’m trying so hard not to cry as I write this. I am sorry for your losses but I am happy that you have the pie dish and blue bowl. Enjoy using those Spode dishes! Treasures indeed, my mother passed away before I was old enough to know to notice what dishes we used, something I do regret. A very happy Thanksgiving to you and Larry.

    • lizthechef November 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      Don’t cry, dear Jayne – thinking of your Thanksgiving in London and sending best wishes.

  2. Bevi November 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Liz, and thank you for your lovely blog.

    • lizthechef November 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      Thanks, Bevi – Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Sunchowder -Wendy Read November 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Beautiful post Liz. I too have lost my grandparents, parents and my aunts and uncles really much too early in my life. It is lovely that you can look back and cherish and relive the memories on this holiday and a I am sure many others. Sending you love.

    • lizthechef November 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

      I know we both have had too many losses – hugs across the miles.

  4. Toni November 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Lovely memories that you are keeping alive, that to me is what Holidays are about.

    • lizthechef November 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

      Thanks, Toni – hope you and your wonderful family enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. TasteFood November 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    What a beautiful post, Liz – thank you for sharing it. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Larry!

    • lizthechef November 22, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      Thank you, Lynda, and sending Thanksgiving wishes to you and yours.

  6. Elizabeth@MyCommunalTable November 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    Wow. What a beautiful peek into your holiday memories. Thank you so much for sharing. You honor those women in a way, I bet, that they would be pleased and delighted to be remembered because it comes from love. Love to you and Larry on this Thanksgiving holiday.

    • lizthechef November 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

      Enjoy your special day with your two beautiful sons – XO

  7. bakeanything November 23, 2011 at 1:27 am #

    Liz, I love you and your writing. So heartwarming. What she gave you is now your pride and joy, which you will pass and you had by creating this beautiful site to share it (thank goodness for technology, or I can never bookmark your recipes!). They will always be with you in your heart and every other memories you make.

    • lizthechef November 23, 2011 at 1:30 am #

      Such a gift to have met you at IFBC – sorry you have to work over the holiday. Let’s look forward to you meeting Denise and Todd of White On Rice. It’s gonna floor you 😉 Bring your camera – duh.

  8. The Wimpy Vegetarian November 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    What a lovely, heart-filled post, Liz. Just beautifully written. And it’s so you. You have a such a wonderful legacy of family, warmth, and love that you’re continuing to pass on to others. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Larry.

    • lizthechef November 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

      Your call meant so much to me – hugs to you and Myles with best Thanksgiving wishes.

  9. sippitysup (@sippitysup) November 27, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    Families are an inspiration. GREG

    • lizthechef November 28, 2011 at 2:04 am #

      Yep, and/or a diving off point. Kind of a combo for me. Thanks for your voice here. X0

  10. Winnie November 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this, Liz. It’s a beautiful post.

  11. Trevor Sis. Boom November 29, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    My husband gives me grief for forming attachments to things like pie plates and sets of dishes but I can’t help it. It is the only way I can ensure that my long past loves continue to show up year after year. Lovely post!

    • lizthechef November 29, 2011 at 3:25 am #

      Hang on to those plates and dishes!!

  12. Oui, Chef November 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    What a lovely post, Liz. I trust that you had a delightful Thanksgiving, thank you for sharing your memories of holidays past.

    • lizthechef November 30, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

      It was a quiet and lovely day – gave away lots of leftovers to friends. Bye, pie 😉

  13. Suzanne November 26, 2015 at 4:13 am #

    Liz, that is such a beautiful post and the photo is so wonderful. Wishing you and Larry a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • Liz November 26, 2015 at 8:48 am #

      And the same to you, Suzanne!

  14. sippitysup November 27, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

    Nicely timed post. This is the first Thanksgiving living with my partner’s mother. It’s been decades (lots of decades) since I’ve lived with a woman in the house. You post eased some of my trepidation. GREG

    • Liz November 27, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

      Good. With you,Greg – hope you will write about it.

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