It was a cold November day when I was 8 years old. The car was packed with everything we needed to visit my Grandma in Pennsylvania…including the most important thing: our appetites. If you showed up without that, well, you should’ve just stayed home.
Thanksgiving was certainly a treat for my family. We didn’t often take vacations throughout the year, so our pilgrimage to the Keystone state was a big deal for us. I would look forward to it for months. So much so that Thanksgiving became the holiday we anticipated the most—even more than Christmas! I know it sounds crazy for an 8 year old, but these trips to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving is what started my love affair with food and wanting to show love through food.
I was that kid who would ask repeatedly, “Are we there yet?” Not a big surprise to those of you who know me, I’m sure. I still struggle with patience today. In those car trips, I wouldn’t get a response from my Dad, who drove until we made our ritual last stop. The last stop meant we were one hour away, and my Dad would make the most important phone call of the year: his call to Grandma to tell her we would be there soon. I always had to have my ear to the pay phone to hear the list of food that she spent days preparing and we would be eating in hours.
I would get so excited that my mind would be dancing with dreams of turkey, green beans, and the almighty mash potatoes.Yes, you read that right: mash potatoes, the classic dish, is what I would dream about for months. As a kid, I never knew what made them so good. I am talking about better-than-Halloween candy good. Years later, Grandma did show me the secret ingredient: four sticks of whole butter. (Well, we never said it was healthy!)
I tell you that story because when I was a kid, I didn’t know any better. Mash potatoes and a table full of family is what love meant to me. I enjoyed every second of it, not realizing that it would ever end. Not realizing that I was making a memory that would last me forever.
This Thanksgiving is, of course, about being grateful and thankful. But it’s also about making a memory with the faces around the table, the smiles that will brand your heart. Never let them go, because one day they will be gone and those memories will always keep your table and your heart full.
From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.