Recently I asked myself this question, now that the holidays are approaching. When I was younger, I used to get frustrated with people who continuously rejected new ideas and always wanted things kept status quo. But lately I’ve started to notice it in myself. Whether its how I feel about today’s fashions, which to me, have all been done before. I no longer see pink hair, tattoos and face piercings as a statement of individuality, it seems that most of the young people have one or more of them these days. They’ve become too mainstream. But I’ve noticed my new desire for the status quo comes from the need of a comfortable space. As someone who isn’t afraid of getting out of their comfort zone, I do find myself longing for a simpler time.
For me it’s Thanksgiving. I have to admit, the fact that it has been decided it’s now appropriate for stores to be open on this holiday, it is without a doubt messing with my head, and lately has really become a contention with me. Apparently, retailers no longer want to give their employees this holiday. It would be too easy for me to get on my soap box and ramble on about it for more than a few paragraphs, so I will try not to.
The past couple of years I’ve offered to host Thanksgiving for my husband’s side of the family and it has turned into a great compromise. I get to cook what I want for Thanksgiving and my in-laws get a break from cooking. Certain foods can be powerful in triggering memories in people sending them to another place and time. For me, its my dad’s special recipe for stuffing.
My father was born on Christmas day, so that time of the year was extra-special for him. Everyone in the family got to wish him a happy birthday and a Merry Christmas all in the same sentence. His presents were either birthday or Christmas based on what the giver wrote on the tag. Sure, he used to joke that he got gypped out of getting more presents, but to me, not everyone could say their dad was a Christmas baby.
As a kid, starting with Thanksgiving, the house was transformed into a magical place. As a family, we decorated the whole house while Christmas records were playing. The decorating didn’t start until the day after Thanksgiving, and Christmas shopping didn’t start until that following weekend. The only early shopping that was done was when my mom placed an order from the “Sears Wish Book” catalog by telephone. We also kept our decorations and lights up until New Year’s Day. When my father passed, Christmas was never the same, neither was Thanksgiving.
The menu was my dad’s. He had a special recipe for stuffing that no one else could duplicate. Anytime I celebrated Thanksgiving away from home as an adult, that stuffing was missed… very much. My mom said that the recipe was his mother’s. Now that I’m in charge of the menu, it’s crucial that the stuffing recipe have the same flavor that I remember. My mother is my partner-in-crime to ensure that it does. She cuts up the onion and celery to a specific size, then she will sautée it in butter with a special blend of spices. This is when the whole house starts to smell like Thanksgiving. The mixture is then refrigerated. The bread for the stuffing gets cut up into small pieces and is left out overnight to dry out. The next day, all the ingredients are mixed together and the turkey is stuffed before it goes into the oven.
For a few hours while getting food ready, my mom and I enjoy the time together remembering back when the holidays weren’t centered around black Friday. For a few hours my kitchen becomes the status quo, and is transformed into a magical place with the sights, sounds and smells of Thanksgiving as a child.