Every family has its’ holiday traditions. Mine is no exception. I grew up in the quintessential Southern household, steeped in all the pomp and circumstance of a Rockwell painting. While Christmas is typically everyone’s favorite holiday, my family’s favorite is Thanksgiving.
We spent every Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house. Each year, the entire family would converge on a small South Carolina farmhouse. Everyone knew their rightful place and what dish they were to bring to complete the holiday meal. As the matriarch of the family, my Nana skillfully directed the entire production in which her turkey and dressing stole the show. Like most American families, we would eat until we were gorged then the adults would spend the afternoon reminiscing, while the children played in the yard.
My childhood memories of Thanksgivings spent at my grandparents are priceless. I often imagined a very similar gathering when I had a family of my own.
When I got married, I was determined to carry on those traditions in my own household. I will never forget our first Thanksgiving dinner. We were going to spend it with my in-laws and I was determined to take my traditions and family recipes with me.
I remember calling Nana weeks before to get her dressing recipe. Like most Southern grandmothers, she cooks by sight and feel. I listened carefully and wrote down “a pinch of this, a dash of that,” as she divulged the sacred recipe and how important it was not to overcook it.
When Thanksgiving Day rolled around, my husband and I packed up and headed west to his hometown of Tuscaloosa. Upon arrival, I carefully unpacked the contents of my plastic grocery bags and began cooking.
I will save y’all the horror of what followed, but let’s just say the outcome wasn’t pretty or edible. My dressing was nothing like Nana’s. Through the years, I have achieved redemption. I have managed to somehow perfect Nana’s dressing and I now make it for the entire family every Thanksgiving, with a blessing from Nana.
If this story reminds you of one of your own, we’ve got you covered in this issue. We’ve rounded up three cookbook authors with ties to the CSRA for tips and recipes for successful holiday meals.
This article appears in the November-December 2016 issue of Augusta Magazine.