Sifting ThroughNovember 27, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Posted in Family | 11 Comments
Tags: Cooking, Family, Food, Gender Roles, Holidays, Motherhood, Perspectives, Thanksgiving, Tradition
I made dressing and cornbread for the first time this Thanksgiving. Recipes from my grandmothers.
It’s more complicated than that, though, in that way that modern families are. It’s a story about blood lines and life lines intersecting. About an adoption 52 years ago and a marriage 30 years later. About two women whose courage and strength I inherited, even if our DNA doesn’t match under a microscope.
One is my step-grandmother, according to syntax. She raised three boys and buried her youngest when he was 18. She spent holidays mixing and chopping and pulling pans in and out of her two ovens. Always, always, there was buttermilk in her fridge and sequins in her closet.
The other is my mother’s mother. The one who birthed two children she never got to hold. The one who sewed my dolls a wardrobe that my own daughter now plays with. The one who loves chocolate as much as I do.
I found myself years and miles away from these two women this Thanksgiving but so connected I could feel the brush of their apron strings. I walked from my pantry to my laptop to my pantry, dodging abandoned toy trains and dropped marker lids, semi-oblivious to the chaos of my three children simultaneously playing school, gas station, and tag around me. I gathered oil, cornmeal, and broth. I chopped celery, green onions, and French bread loaves. I read the notes my mother had e-mailed me after years of making these dishes herself.
As I stood there, I felt something more than the sweat on my forehead from my preheated oven. I felt the simple but profound power of tradition — three generations of women preparing a meal, the same meal, for their families. My grandmothers cooked, in part at least, because they were expected to. And I cooked because they had.
But I also cooked because I wanted to. Because I’m thankful no one expects me to roll my hair and reapply my lipstick when I’m finished. And because I recognize the kind of nourishment that a hand-written, flour-dotted recipe gives my soul.
What did you cook for Thanksgiving this year? What are your favorite family recipes? And are you still getting by on leftovers?