By Karin Calloway
My family always teases my mother because she dreams of having the perfect “Norman Rockwell” holidays. The perfect Thanksgiving for my mom means that everything is presented on beautifully garnished platters. The table is set with her china and silver. Oh, and she must touch each one of her kids—especially on Christmas when she literally would spend Christmas Eve with my brother and his family and then she would drag my dad and little sister from their Christmas morning revelry for a seven-hour drive to Augusta. She just had to lay hands on each of us in that 24-hour period.
My first Thanksgiving away from home, as a new bride without enough vacation accrued to make it to Orlando and back, was anything but “Norman Rockwell.” If you don’t know me from any of my other jobs, I spent 18 years or so developing recipes for The Augusta Chronicle and Viking Range Corporation. So, it may surprise you that my first Thanksgiving was a culinary disaster—or fair, at best.
I had spent hours on the phone with my mother and mother-in-law gathering recipes and advice. Then, I prepared the big meal. With my mother-in-law’s dressing recipe in hand, I packed—literally—the cavity of the turkey and baked it per directions. I ended up with dressing that resembled a very compacted football. My gravy was so lumpy I had to put it in the blender to make it passable. I didn’t have a spring-form pan, so I baked my pumpkin cheesecake in a pie plate and then tried to turn it out like you would a regular cake, ending up with half a molten hot cheesecake down the front of me and between my toes.
Thirty-one years later, Thanksgiving doesn’t phase me. I’d be happy spending hours in the kitchen preparing the meal, but it’s not necessary. Since my parents moved to Evans, Thanksgiving preparations have turned into a family effort. Mom gets out the platters (with proper garnishes ready and waiting in the fridge) and sets the table, my sister brings everyone’s favorite marinated cheese and homemade cranberry sauce. Bond and I roast two turkeys and smoke one at home, then carve them and pack them up, along with my homemade gravy, to head to Mom and Dad’s for the big meal. My aunt brings the green bean casserole, my uncle usually makes some macaroni and cheese and my dad makes his sublime mashed potatoes. Then there are the pies. My mother is known to make six pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. In my family, pumpkin pie often serves as breakfast on Thanksgiving morning—you did know that pumpkin is packed with nutrients, right?
I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. It may never quite live up to my mother’s “Norman Rockwell” fantasy, but to me it’s just right. After all, it’s the people, not the perfection, that count.
This article appears in the December – January 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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