Tradition Isn’t the Point

I’m so thankful this year for the progress Mary Ellen is making. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be for a child to be yanked out of her home and deposited somewhere else. She must have felt so much anger and confusion and grief. I’m not saying those feelings have all been replaced on a permanent basis by joy and self-confidence, but the scale has certainly tipped in their favor. I’m thankful to her grandparents—all of them—for loving her and staying in her life. I am especially thankful to my husband, her Papa, for being our rock. And for doing the laundry. I’m thankful for the teachers and school principal who have encouraged her learning and given her the assurance that she can accomplish her dreams. I’m thankful to her parents for trusting us with her while they prepare to be the parents they want to be, and that I know they can be. It does take a village.

But this Thanksgiving, I’m also thinking about differences. There is no longer anyone in my family who enjoys sitting down together at a big meal, so it will just be the three of us today. We each chose a dish that we wanted, none of which would have been on the table when I was Mary Ellen’s age. She’s making dessert–turkeys made with cookies, chocolate chips, yellow and white icing and bananas.

Annual meals way back when were bountiful and always the same. I don’t miss the cooking, except for one dish: Granny’s cornbread dressing. When she got on up in years, I asked her to give me her recipe. Of course, she didn’t have one, but I wrote down exactly what she said. I can hear her talking to me as I read it. I wonder if Mary Ellen will remember something special that she and I share, and if so, what it will be. Memories of childhood should be happy. I think part of our job is to be sure that at least some of hers are.

Since I can’t share the dressing with family this year, I’ll share my memory and the recipe with you—exactly as it was dictated.

Scrumble light bread and corn bread in a crock (about 1/3 and 2/3). Soak in hot water, a cup or so. Beat 2 eggs more or less. Chop onion and celery up fine together. Take bacon and fry real crisp. Crumble it all up. Add just small amount of dripping from the bacon. Salt and pepper. Taste. I hate that part. Put in a little shallot and celery top. Cook about 1 hour 350⁰-400⁰ When just wet with water, add 3-4 cups? stock. Get it real moist.

I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving, whatever yours may look like.

2 thoughts on “Tradition Isn’t the Point”

  1. Dressing recipe sounds almost exactly like the one my mom used. Except that instead of hot water, she used chicken broth, and added sage spice.. Otherwise,identical recipe. After living several years in New Orleans, I learned to really enjoy their oyster dressing. Which did have cornbread in it.

  2. Excellent post. It captures the best of the old and the new. And you are correct–it’s about the happy memories we make for them.

Leave a Reply