Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

I haven't mentioned it before, but the little house that Chris and I rent was built in 1926 (I'm almost certain, that's the year...).  We LOVE renting this little old house with so much character and we are also very glad we do not own this little old house (as anything built in 1926 will have its quirks).

When Chris and I first moved in, I cleaned the house from top to bottom -- light fixtures, floor boards, ceiling fans, shelving so high they had not been used or cleaned in years, top of cupboards, inside storage cupboards, draperies... it was a regular old-fashioned spring cleaning at the beginning of August.  The entire time I was cleaning, and my arms were getting more and more of a workout and I went slowly but surely from room to room, I kept thinking about the many generations of women who have cleaned this house ahead of me.

In the cleaning process, I began wondering about the new brides (like myself) who have learned about marriage in this house; I began wondering how many young couples have lived here?  How many young parents have lived here?  How many babies were welcomed home to this little house?  How many sons or husbands left for war from this house?  How many sons or husbands were welcomed home from this house?  How many women learned how to cook in our kitchen?  How many five-year-olds were sent off to their first day of kindergarten from this house?... and the curiosity continued...

As I lay in bed tonight (Tuesday night) and think about my day tomorrow... think about the many pies and dishes I'll be cooking tomorrow and the more dishes we'll be cooking on Thursday, I am again filled with thoughts of the women who have gone before me in this house.  How many Thanksgivings has this house seen?  How many large family gatherings have occurred here, like ours will be?  How many small family gatherings of just a few people have happened here?  How many young wives have hosted their FIRST EVER holiday meal for parents and in-laws in this house?  How many older wives have hosted innumerable holiday meals here?  How many women have known this kitchen and had the holiday meal routine down to a science (the way my mom has it down to a science in her kitchen in Michigan)?

Tonight, as I think about the cooking and upcoming Thanksgiving meal, it is not only the shoulders of the other wives in this house, which I stand upon.  Even more than my curiosity about the previous wives in this house, I think about my amazing female predecessors who have hosted more Thanksgiving meals and fed more family members than I could even dream of serving.

The only female relative I have observed fixing holiday meals is my mother -- but she embraced the traditions, the recipes and the holiday hostessing of both sides of the women in my family tree.  My mother's mother taught her everything she knows about cooking, baking and feeding an army... and she died when my mother was 16 years old.  Most of my mother's delicious recipes come from my mother's mother... including the pie crust recipe I made with my mom for the first time this Thanksgiving and will become homemade pies tomorrow.

My father's mother was old enough to be my mother's grandmother and my mom respected and embraced all that my father's mother had to share and teach.  It was my father's mother who taught my mom that you can set your dining room table days in advance so you're not running around at the last minute.  My father's mother also taught my mother how to make her famous cranberry sorbet... a recipe I made this year for the first time and will be served at Chris and my Thanksgiving table.

As I begin the marathon of cooking in the next 36 hours, I stand on the shoulders of giants -- gentle, motherly, strong, beautiful, wifely, women giants.  Giants that share my blood... giants that have shared my house... giants with whom I share recipes... giants from whom I hope to draw strength... and giants from whom I hope to learn.

Rest assured, I will not be cooking alone.  My hubby loves to cook and so we have divided the work load and we'll be sharing the kitchen.  It will be the first time either Chris or I... and especially the first time that we have both cooked a big holiday meal for 9 people, including both of our parents, and both of our in-laws.  The entire group will include two mothers (aka two-mothers-in-law), two fathers (aka two fathers-in-law), one sister, one brother-in-law, one brother, one Brooke, one Chris, one kitty, one puppy, one turduckin (more on this later) and a partridge in a pear tree.

I am praying for a day filled with love and laughter and an easy-going-nature in myself to cope with the unexpected, laugh at my cooking mistakes and welcome others into our home and our kitchen.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm sure your dinner will be delicious!!! I have only cooked Thanksgiving dinner by myself once because we always go home or to my grandparents. I followed my mom's directions exactly and it turned out just like hers! You'll do great!! (But I understand the nerves... a Turkey is a big bird! haha)

    Happy Thanksgiving!!


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