Opinion: Welcome to Thanksgiving
November is a season for giving “thanx.” I like to spell it this way because it matches my last name, one I share with my husband. We were married the day after Thanksgiving. At the time, Fred said that he didn’t want to be one of those cartoon husbands who gets in hot water for forgetting our wedding anniversary. No matter the date on the calendar, our anniversary falls on the day after Thanksgiving.
He probably can’t tell you the actual date (Nov. 23) because, to his way of thinking, it is always the day after Thanksgiving.
This time of year, families gather to share the blessings of the previous year. The harvest is completed and hopefully the food that feeds the nation is on its way. The chaos in the trucking industry is having its effect on moving goods and the powers that be are trying to sort it out.
We were taught to be thankful. Our parents and extended families gathered to share the Thanksgiving dinner, usually served around 2 p.m. Food was served that, usually, only made its appearance at holiday meals.
Platters of deviled eggs, fancy dinner rolls and, of course, the star of the show, old Tom Turkey. Giblet gravy made with the neck and other parts of the turkey too gross to mention shinned along with vats of mashed potatoes. The term a slice of gravy may well have been conceived on Thanksgiving. Mine is always that bad!
When we were kids, the Quality Dairy gave each of its employees a giant turkey in November, and an equal sized ham at Christmas.
The first time I baked a turkey in my own kitchen, I was surprised it only required about four hours to be done to a golden brown. Growing up, my mom and dad awoke before 5 a.m. to put the turkey in the oven. It was baked all day long. I think of it as the great Thanksgiving mystery. Either they baked it at a much lower temperature than I, or, perhaps the oven didn’t work as efficiently as mine.
I’ve never been a fan of the stuffing or dressing, as it is sometimes called. To me, it has always been soggy, sage-laden bread. Sometimes made with cubes of bread from the day-old bread store or made with home-baked corn bread. I have an aunt that grew up in Maine. When it was her turn to host the festivities, she put oysters in her stuffing. Either way, I am still not a fan.
We only ate desserts on special occasions in our house. My parents decided early on that we were larger people and nightly desserts would only contribute to the issue.
However, during the holidays, there were cakes, pies and pudding galore. My mom’s only sister, Clara Banks, made the best chocolate pie. A few years ago, her daughter, Oletha Parson, made the pie at Christmas. It was just as I remembered. Flakey pie crust and creamy filing. One of my cousins pointed out “it was just pudding in a pastry shell, with whipped cream topping.” I didn’t care. It was a taste of my childhood. Banana pudding was another dish made only for large family gatherings.
Made with either vanilla or banana flavored pudding, sliced bananas, vanilla wafers topped with meringue placed under the broiler just long enough to toast a light brown. It just wasn’t the holidays until someone made banana pudding. It is still my brother Brian’s favorite.
The table was also garnished with Oberti olives. One of our aunties and uncles worked at Oberti Olives for many years. We always had lots of Oberti olives on the table. The little kids like to put them on their fingers like shiny black or green fingernails.
During this time, a Fresno-based broadcaster made television commercials for the Oberti family. Al Radka told his viewers Oberti stood for “Only-Better-Eaters-Really-Taste-It.” Members of the Oberti family have lived with that one ever since.
One of my best Thanksgiving memories has almost nothing to do with a big fancy meal. I fondly remember having a sleepover at my uncle Pete and aunt Nada’s house the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.
My cousins, Kary Kirk, her sister Lori Woody and I, would campout on the floor of their garage converted to a den. We would then wake up really early to watch the Macy’s parade. The balloons are still the stars of the show. These days I still watch and sometimes record the parade.
I would rather sleep on the den floor and wake up with cousins to “ooh” and “ahh” with, over the grandeur of the parade.
If I ever invent time travel, that would definitely be one of the chapters of my own history I would revisit. Right after I saved JFK in Dallas.
Be safe driving as the roads as the San Joaquin Valley are once again experiencing tule fog. Imbibing any substance that may impair one’s driving is a very bad idea.
Long days and pleasant nights, have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend.
• • •
Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.