Thanksgiving traditions are as unique and varied as the folks who create them. To some, Thanksgiving means football. To others, it's a juicy drumstick or hefty slice of pumpkin pie. I'm not a sports fan, nor do I care for drumsticks or pie. For me, Thanksgiving is all about memories...and mashed potatoes.
I come from a small family. We didn't have boisterous holidays with aunts, uncles, and cousins crowding our table, but on Thanksgiving morning, Mom rose with the sun to put the bird in the oven and prepare our family feast. I don't recall anything she made other than turkey, stuffing, turnips (only she liked them), mashed potatoes (being Scottish, she called them tatties), and biscuits (which were more like muffins than the Poppin Fresh variety). Mom mashed the potatoes by hand with what is now considered an antique kitchen tool, and I stirred the biscuit batter. We watched March of the Wooden Soldiers in the morning and Miracle on 34th Street in the afternoon. Autumn swirled outside (seasons back then were predictable); there was a nip in the air and warmth in the house. Thanksgiving!
Years have altered the composition of our family. Our traditional meal has changed as well. There are no turnips or biscuits on the table (Mom is no longer with us), and potatoes are whipped by an electric mixer instead of mashed by hand. When the potatoes are passed around, I thank whoever prepared the tatties and think back to the days when my mother was singing in the kitchen, cooking with her aluminum pots and old potato masher. I am thankful for the memory and the family that provided it.
The grateful words of Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson are quite appropriate for us today.
“We Thank Thee...”
“Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank Thee for this place in which we dwell;
for the love that unites us;
for the peace accorded us this day;
for the hope with which we expect the morrow;
for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies,
that make our lives delightful;
and for our friends in all parts of the earth.
Let peace abound in our small company.
Purge out of every heart the lurking grudge.
Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere.
Give us the grace to accept and to forgive offenders.
Forgetful ourselves, help us to bear cheerfully
the forgetfulness of others.
Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors.
If it may not, give us the strength to encounter
that which is to come,
that we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation,
temperate in wrath,
and in all changes of fortune, and, down to the gates of death,
loyal and loving one to another.”
That so aptly said, may you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Now, pass the tatties!