Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Norman Rockwell Holiday

My family has never been guilty of trying to make the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner a Norman Rockwell moment.  Has yours? 

What we are guilty of is serving the same food over and over again. Ours is always turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing (that no one eats except Granny the Great), cranberry sauce (canned chunky and jellied-for sandwiches the next day), green beans (Sissy insists on green bean casserole), fresh bread, pumpkin pie and Granny the Great’s pecan pie.

Another thing my family is famous for is names. No, not their given names but we name food and name dishes all based on the people who served them, what they served them in or the occasion.

I guess the most famous are the Jim Miller potatoes. My 93 year old mother (Granny the Great) talks about as a child going to a school chum’s (Jim Miller) house and his mother serving these potatoes. Nothing fancy – just good old home cooking. This dish is boiled lumpy potatoes (skin on or off your preference), with added butter, milk and chopped onion. Yes, keep them lumpy. All part of the mystique.

The company salad, well, it is the salad that is only served when company comes and over the years it has become a staple for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I tried to do away with it one year, because no one eats it, but the family asked where it was. So it has reappeared. It is just lemon Jello with chopped bananas and pineapple, topped with whipped cream made with the pineapple juice and then added shredded cheese.

Christmas morning debuts Grandma Betty’s waffles. It is the only time of the year that we have waffles – really. The Belgian-type waffle batter is made Christmas Eve as the kids are getting into bed. In the past we served these with venison sausage processed by Kuby’s in Dallas but my source disappeared. Sad. . . 

Then there is Juli’s mashed potato bowl. Our holiday dinner usually consists of 4 to 6 to 10 people - maybe more; maybe less. I always make a 10 lb. bag of mashed potatoes (not to be confused with Jim Miller potatoes). These are served in this antique McCoy bread bowl and usually there are no leftovers. What can I say; my family likes potatoes.

This enamelware pan is one used by my grandmother to take potato salad to church picnics. My mother always gestured by making a mountain with her hand to indicate how full the pan was. I just had to keep this pan – although unusable for potato salad or anything else for that matter.

My mother made her potatoes in this sauce pan. I will always remember her banging on the lid to secure it while the potatoes were cooking.

Lastly are the Christmas plates. My children made these while in day care – hence the spelling or lack thereof. Every year, the kids piled these plates high with waffles and sausage, turkey and gravy and pecan pie. Now my grandbabies are using these plates for Christmas dinner.

Although not Norman Rockwellish, our holiday dinners have been a source of tradition and memories from the time my mother was a child to now when her great grandchildren are being served dinner. We will be ever thankful for the love of family, wonderful memories and good food. As we prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I wish you the bounty of God’s blessings. 


  1. beautiful & chocked full of memories - Lenore

  2. I think if one tries to have a Norman Rockwell occasion, they will end up very disappointed. Best to just to enjoy the family - as you are doing. And such wonderful traditions! I laughed at you having to make Company Salad, even though no one eats it! Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!