It was Thanksgiving Day.
And somehow, here I was, smack dab in the middle of a cozy kitchen with 16 other people, each taking our turn with polite jabs at pieces of turkey, or honey-baked ham, while loading our plates with sweet potato casserole, creamed corn, cranberry sauce and that irresistible dressing from Kim's mother's secret recipe (it's not written down anywhere).
|Rockwell and I share the same Thanksgiving vision.|
Rockwell always considered himself to be an illustrator, not an artist, but this particular work has almost always generated such a strong emotional current for me that I can almost smell the turkey and hear the table chatter.
I'd seen that picture as a child and, God help me, it's one of the first images that fills my brain every Thanksgiving since then. I don't know why. It just does.
For the first couple decades of my life, my Pennsylvania Thanksgivings resembled Rockwell's very own vision. But then life intervened. One of my brothers moved to Alaska. Another to Iowa. I moved to North Carolina. Our grandparents passed away and so did our parents. Curiously, our Thanksgivings depended on others of no blood relation.
|Here's the spread with bits of the gathering. Dressing is at bottom left corner.|
I met at least three people I'd never seen before. Talk about extended families...
Anyway, the next three hours or so were a slice in time to be savored along with the pumpkin pie, and I found myself not only thankful, but grateful, too.
Thanksgivings are like that, aren't they?
Kim's mother's secret dressing recipe:
Hushpuppies from Backcountry Barbecue and Stamey's Barbecue
Cornbread from Southern Lunch.
Toast from Mayberry's in Winston-Salem
A package of Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing mix
A hard-boiled egg or two
A couple of fresh eggs
A pinch of sage
A stick of butter
Real cooked chicken
Chicken soup broth
A dollop of love
The hushpuppies, cornbread and toast are all leftovers from actual meals we ate at those places and brought home in to-go boxes. Mix all of this stuff together and put it in a flat pan. Stick it in the oven at the usual 350 degrees and bake until it smells great or looks like it might be done. Enjoy.