“I find out 3 weeks before Thanksgiving that my mom would like me to host it this year. My dad has been sick, so this is really no surprise to me. I’ve done it before. I’m not freaking out. Really. I’m not.
On Sunday before Thanksgiving I find a checklist on Pinterest. ‘How to Host the Perfect Thanksgiving’ or something like that. Well, it seems I am already 3 weeks behind. Clean your refrigerator, clean your oven, empty your coat closets, clean your baseboards…things you are supposed to begin weeks before the big event. Then, I find all the menus. The perfect holiday feasts were all listed in various forms but sharing mostly the same menu. There is also a cheat sheet for how much of each item you need per person. I don’t think I have enough food. I really know I have enough food, but I start having doubts. I sort of use the lists, to make sure all my bases are covered.
I’m setting out bowls, getting extra chairs, making sure my cabinets won’t be an embarrassment, when I see the most important part of this holiday. My grandmother’s mixer. My grandmother died about 24 years ago and I got her mixer. I use this mixer every year to make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. I won’t use my newer, fancier mixers. I use hers.
This sends me down memory lane. I start remembering Thanksgivings past. The entire family sitting in my grandmother’s trailer, on floors, on couches, around the kitchen table, and into the living room. There are a lot of us. She had 4 kids and their families are all present. We fit. I don’t remember anxious hosts. I don’t remember feelings of ‘not enough.’ I remember football and cracking walnuts and the smells. Man, I remember the smells. Turkey and baked goods and chicken smells filled the entire trailer. I remember flour everywhere. There was flour on the counters and flour on her face. And her arms. I don’t know how, but she always had flour on her arms. That might be my favorite memory of her.
‘Bobbie, the key to good mashed potatoes is mixing them at the right time,’ she told me. She got the potatoes off the stove and drained them and handed me the mixer. ‘You have to mash them when they are right off the stove and still soft.’ I mashed the potatoes that year. I don’t remember how old I was. 12, 14? I just thought it was cool that she let me do this. Carefully I added the milk and the butter. She handled the salt and pepper. They were perfect. Maybe. I don’t remember. I know we weren’t looking at Pinterest or Tasty to find the perfect mashed potatoes. Just a grandma and her granddaughter, sharing a tradition.
So, I set aside the lists. The instructions for hosting the perfect holiday feast. I call my sister who insists I have enough food and we remember Wednesdays before Thanksgiving that were just nights of baking. Our kids playing and sometimes helping. Our memories didn’t involve Pinterest and were not documented on social media. They are in our hearts.
Today, I am grateful for the grandmas, the sisters and the aunts. The ones that insist we all get together, even when our lives have become so busy. The ones that dig out the extra chairs and tablecloths to make sure there is enough room at the table. The ones that spent days making enough fudge for every family to take home. I am grateful for women that know how important it is that we pass on mashed potatoes for a family meal. I am really grateful for my grandma’s mixer.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer of Arnold, Missouri. A version of her story originally appeared on Medium. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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