Sigh. Thanksgiving gets me every year. If you’ve lost a loved one, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a wonderful, beautiful, and even magical time of year – but it’s also a time that’s ripe with emotions, isn’t it? Thanksgiving was my dad’s favorite holiday, by a landslide. Sometimes I thought the man lived for Thanksgiving Day.
So each Thanksgiving season finds me missing him A LOT.
I’m one of those unlucky people who lost both of their parents too soon, so I actually have both a mom and dad to miss during the Holiday Season. Thank God I have lots of beautiful, much beloved faces surrounding me (some with whiskers, some without!) or I’d just hole up and wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas to pass.
This morning I was thinking a lot about my mom and how she embraced the holidays. A few weeks before hand, the recipes and cookbooks would cover the table and counter as she jotted down ingredients and made her plan of attack. I’m now in THAT role, myself. Funny, we never suspect that we actually will be… until we are.
Anyway, I decided I wanted to make a particular Cranberry Salad that momma would make each Thanksgiving, but none of the recipes were like the one she made. I’d read one after one thinking, “No,” “Nope,” and “Not even close.” I got into the bottom of an antique hutch, looking for some of momma’s old cookbooks. One was lying right on top, with it’s cover torn off (why not, it’s probably 576 years old… okay, not quite). Written on the opening page, in her handwriting were the words, “Cranberry Salad” Pg 15.
I turned to the page she told me to turn to and, sure enough, the recipe was exactly the one I was looking for. I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to cry or smile, so I sort of ended up doing both. I did kind of chuckle though because right beside the recipe was one of her nutty backward check marks. She was left handed, so I guess that explains it, but the woman’s check marks were as backward as backward can be. I remember teasing her about it and she’d laugh and say that her check marks were “beautiful” and that everyone else’s were backward.
I don’t know. Maybe she was right.
Here’s my mom’s favorite recipe for Cranberry Salad. The recipe calls for Cherry Jell-o but I recall she always favored Strawberry, so I made the exchange.
2 (3 oz) pkgs strawberry-flavored gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped nuts (she used pecans, as I will)
Mix and chill.
Don’t let the celery throw you – it’s excellent in this salad and you’ll love the crunch!
About Nuts: Have you ever bought Oh Nuts? I’m addicted to them beyond belief. There are certain brands that I’m ridiculously loyal to and, when it comes to nuts, none compare. In fact, I’m launching an entire week of NUTTY recipes on the food blog. I am a nut for nuts and use them in my cooking just about every day. With Oh Nuts, everything’s even more delicious…. when I can stay out of them, that is! They come in these big, beautiful bags that open and close so effortlessly – which is a good thing, of course, but it’s almost impossible to quit snacking on them.. Good thing they’re so wonderfully healthy!
If you haven’t already, it’s a great idea to write down (and safely protect) favorite family recipes. If a parent, aunt, grandparent, or uncle makes alterations to a recipe, be sure to write down their exchanges or alterations. Better yet, let them write it down in their own handwriting. It’s pretty special to have handwritten notes and notations from loved ones. Sometimes they even come with backward check marks. 🙂