Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday without any pretense. No gifts, no expectations. No church (or arguments about whether everyone should go to church.) Just a Griswold family gathering with football and feasting (or in my case of the crazy Italians, foosball).
Papa has a broken foot – that one from the downstairs bar and an intense game of kick-the-ball with the boys. (Sorry Dad.) So he limped around with a walking stick while wearing black socks with sandals (I do not know why these events need to be related).
Meanwhile Search was running around the house in two different socks. And nothing else. Uncle Paul was wearing the mismatched sock’s matches on his ears in an effort to entertain. (Dobby is free!)
There was another child in the backyard; I’m pretty sure it’s Destroy, but there were too many layers of grime to tell. I was on the mission to discover PigPen’s true identity whilst wearing boots in the 85 degree November autumn weather. Why boots, you ask? Because when I went to put on my sneakers I discovered a suitcase containing one tan Converse All Star (right foot) and one grey Puma (right foot).
Aunt Stephanie was sitting ashen-faced and shell-shocked at the kitchen table after receiving a text from her Great Grandma that read, “Happy Turkey Day.” Most notable about this anecdote is that her Great Grandma passed away in August 2011. Yeah. You can’t make this stuff up.
Gramma was in the kitchen cooking. (Some may argue that Gramma cooking such a lavish spread is actual more incredulous than Aunt Stephanie’s text from above.) Turkey (“Look mommy! A pig!” from two very excited muppets), mashed potatoes, stuffing, blackened broccoli (I’m thinking “blackened” wasn’t part of the original recipe though), yams with pecans, cornbread, apple pie, cherry pie, and chocolate cream pie was on the menu.
GrammaJ cooking, if you’ve been paying attention to the through line of culinary skills on this blog, is an exceedingly rare occurrence. So atypical, in fact, that the oven freaked out and began emitting a noxious odor that made my eyes water more than direct contact with an onion and resulted in an intense desire for a nap. (Granted that last part is typically a daily manifestation for me.)
The official family claim was that one of the dishes spilled and was now burning. I maintain a conspiracy to cover up the ire of an overworked oven expressing its displeasure. (GrammaJ is presently shouting at me to stop making fun of her cooking abilities – she can teach kids to read instead.) But I digress…
The piece de resistance of every Thanksgiving meal, however, is Grandma Winnie’s Pumpkin Bread. It is not Thanksgiving without it. This was, sadly, our first Thanksgiving without her.
I proffered the precious recipe to GrammaJ. And in case there was any proof needed that she has not been abducted by aliens, the following totally happened:
“Hmm, I think I already used my loaf pan for the cornbread. Oh well, this one will probably work. I don’t actually need to measure out the pumpkin, this is about a cup…(Editor’s note: no it’s not). I don’t have the spices needed, I think I threw those out when I cleaned the kitchen. I have pumpkin spice though – that’s got mostly the same stuff. Ok, mix. Hmmm, Tricia is it usually this runny?”
Guess what did not emerge from the cranky oven?
What did was some curious gooey amalgamation of caramelized pumpkin and pumpkin-bread-like batter. (To be completely honest, the goo with the crunchy crust wasn’t half bad. It just wasn’t Grandma Winnie’s Pumpkin Bread.)
Uncle Paul set about remedying the situation by *actually* baking Grandma Winnie’s Pumpkin Bread. Destroy toddled around after him, apparently dead set on getting burned.
At this point in our day, I was in the bedroom with Search – engaged in a battle of wills over naptime. Search is stubborn beyond his 2.5 years and he did NOT want to nap. Unfortunately for him, like mother like son. And I have 30 years on him, perfecting and honing the art of stubborn, willful opposition. Halfway through the new loaf of pumpkin bread, we napped. (I win.)
After a delicious dinner where the wine flowed freely – to the point where even Search got a glass of red poured for him (being the vigilantly attentive mother that I am, I drank it for him) – it was time for dessert.
As I helped clear the table of china bearing the defeated turkey carcasses, I noticed Uncle Paul’s glowing loaf of pumpkin perfection sitting next to a plateful of Gramma’s pumpkin goop.
I reached for my camera.
But in speeds heretofore unknown to be possible, GrammaJ had grabbed the goop and had shoved it down the garbage disposal with great gusto.
“Nope! This is not going on the blog.”
So I have no comparison photos for you. But of course it goes on the blog – it’s part of what makes our Griswold family Thanksgiving so much fun.
PS. Search was eventually corralled and clothed. Destroy was bathed; yup, right kid.
PPS. Turns out, Aunt Stephanie’s uncle had commandeered Great Grandma’s phone. So it actually wasn’t an otherworldly greeting. Shame…that would have been cool.
PPPS. Gramma is now demanding readers are informed that the turkey was moist and delicious. Also, it appears Papa was the culprit behind the “blackened” broccoli. Two of the pies were from Claim Jumpers restaurant. I stand corrected. Also, Gramma has noted she is never cooking again and I am no longer invited to dinner.