Writing 101, Day 10 – Write about your favourite childhood meal
Thanksgiving, in our family, was the time of year when we gave thanks for the harvest and celebrated with extended family. October in southern Saskatchewan was usually still filled with sunny days, cornflower blue skies and autumn leaves colouring the landscape. My Pa and Grandma and Uncle Barry and Aunt Gladys would have just finished taking the crops off the land and vegetables up from the garden.Thanksgiving signalled the time that they could begin to slow down a little knowing that the year’s growing season was complete and the slumber of winter would soon take over the land.
My mother always turned out a dining room table complete with fine bone china and crystal ware that could have been in a magazine photo shoot. As soon as I was big enough to see over the edge of the table she had me help her set it. To this day, though I hate cooking, I love to set and decorate a beautiful table.
Turkey, pickles and beets, potatoes, green beans, carrots, lettuce salad, cranberries, gravy, shredded carrot in jello salad, (the dreaded) tomato aspic salad with the cold asparagus and whipped mayonnaise topping that I swear only my Pa and mom actually enjoyed, fresh buns and the dish that I lived for – my grandma Evelyn’s fruit salad.
Let’s call it what it really was, dessert! A heavy whipped cream full of grapes cut in half, mandarin orange pieces (from a can, not peeled), pineapple and pears (also from a can), shredded coconut, mini marshmallows, maraschino cherries and a few walnuts on top. The works was displayed beautifully in a heavy cut crystal bowl with a proper silver spoon to serve it with. She always made the prettiest design in the middle from some of the mandarin oranges and cherry pieces. It looked like a birthday present to me for some reason. I always had second helpings! And the leftovers were put out for breakfast the following morning.
My mother still makes it for me now that Grandma is gone. The aspic was Pa’s (her dad’s) favourite dish and I think it makes her too sad to make it since he died, but she still makes the fruit salad for me and I love her for it. It’s a tradition that brings back many fond memories of our family sitting together around the dining room table, laughter and stories being told, candles giving off a lovely aroma and a deep sense of gratitude for the life I’ve been afforded because of the hard work of the generations of farmers who are my ancestors.