My family rarely gets together because they love one another's company. Holidays were spent together, but the times I felt it was enjoyed were very few. We always had turkey and ham. Bowls filled with things like stuffing, dirty rice, cranberry mush, and fruit salad lined the counter tops. Pumpkin and Pecan pies were prepared the night before. The food was delicious and we were together for the sake of it. We couldn't disappoint the turkey by not showing up. Who would eat all that pie?
My husband often chuckles at some of the things my family does to each other. He says I should write a book about my 40 something year old uncle, who still lives with my grandma. He's on his second mail order bride from the Ukraine. I have a cousin who, at the age of 25, feels her superiority over the human race gives her permission to give our 86 year old grandmother evil looks. Still not exactly sure what ensued their hatred for each other, but my grandmother was delighted when she didn't show up to the most recent get together I attended.
I'll have to admit my grandmother isn't the most tactful of women. She certainly says what's on her mind, regardless the outcome. I can remember back when I was planning my wedding, she wanted to make my wedding dress. At first, I was ticked because the dress I wanted was cheaper than it would have been for her to make it. But I calmed down, realized I wouldn't get my way by stomping and allowed her to make it. We went out in search of a comparable pattern. I brought a friend along. As we sat, flipping through catalogs of patterns, we eyed a few dresses that we thought were cute and made mention of it. My grandma took a look at the dresses, gave out a groan and said, "You girls are too big boned for that style of dress." (blank stare) I'm not sure how my friend recovered from that comment, she probably has some mild eating disorder.
Before my uncle died (not the one previously mentioned), the adults would sit around the table after bellies were full and play cards or dominoes. They talked to each other in Cajun French as they sipped their coffee and laughed about who knows what. I don't remember when that stopped exactly. He died right before my eighteenth birthday, so I suppose it was a combination of his death and the kids growing up that changed the traditions of our family gatherings.
Now I have my own family. I want to start new traditions. I want my children to have happy memories, albeit mixed with imperfections. This year for Thanksgiving, my husband and I decided I would make gumbo. He doesn't care for turkey and I can't cook it, so we mesh well. Being originally from Louisiana this seemed like a perfect way to introduce our kids to some of the foods and culture that I had growing up. My husband asks, "So, when was the last time you made a gumbo exactly?" I thought for a second, "Ya know, I don't really remember making it myself." The husband suggested we get a ham instead.
So, I'm not going to have my Cajun Thanksgiving this year, but I'm still going to try my hand at the gumbo this weekend. I'll let you know how it turns out.