How do you create legacies that will be handed down to the younger generation?
by Carolyn Tomlin
After years of preparing the Thanksgiving turkey, I recall with laughter my first attempt at cooking the traditional bird. As a new bride and wanting to impress my husband and our families, I invited the relatives for dinner. Although I knew my way around the kitchen and could prepare many recipes, I had never attempted to thaw a frozen turkey – much less cook an 18-pound monster.
As the clan gathered at the table, all eyes were on the beautiful brown fowl. Being the perfect host, my husband started carving the roasted bird. The first thought of a problem occurred when my mother took her first bite, looked at my father, and rolled her eyes. Soon, others followed. Not a word was spoken, until an honest 5-year-old nephew announced in a loud voice, “This turkey tastes awful! What did you do to it?”
By that time, the carving revealed the cause of the bitter taste. I didn’t know about the paper bag of giblets inside the cavity! Thank goodness I had prepared lots of dressing, sweet potato casserole, green beans and cranberry salad!
Each Thanksgiving, my kin reminds me of that first fiasco of preparing the traditional bird. Your table may not look like the traditional Norman Rockwell painting, but today’s modern families still should create their own legacies. How do you create legacies that will be handed down to the younger generation? Perhaps some of the following will work for you. Try some of these and add your own original creations.
Design Simple Invitations
Who will you invite? Provide colored paper and markers. Preschoolers can draw a table with food with an invitation to attend Thanksgiving dinner. Older children can create their own design. Assist with addressing an envelope and mailing, if needed.
Include Children In Menu Planning
Allow each child to suggest a favorite food – even a snack for the special meal.
Grocery Shop Together
As you shop, identify whole foods by name and category as to fruit, vegetable, dairy, grains or meat. Mention the richness of colors and variety of shapes. For example, say, “Please put eight sweet potatoes in the buggy. Or, we need six yellow lemons.” Think of the grocery store as a place to teach as you have fun with your kids. (Suggestion: Shop mid-morning as stores are less crowded and children are less tired.)
Think about your menu and decide the areas youngsters can safely participate, such as removing grapes from the stems and washing, filling celery sticks with pimento cheese spread with a plastic knife or crumbling cornbread for the dressing. Beware of hot stoves and sharp knives.
by Carolyn Tomlin
Make Simple Decorations And Set The Table
Holidays should be for everyone! This means including children when you decorate the dining table. If you have a children’s table, include this also. Our family plans an outing to the country to gather dried materials a week or so before the big day. Back roads and fences often contain dried materials appropriate for the season. Farmers markets sell apples and a variety of local nuts. Using sprigs of natural greenery, dried materials, apples and nuts with a few candles make for inexpensive decorations and one in which children can participate. The main purpose is to have fun together as a family. It’s a memory children can carry over to adult years when they have youngsters of their own.
For another child-friendly decoration, insert bare branches into a flower pot and secure with pebbles. Using seasonal colored construction paper, trace around fall leaves and cut out. Ask each person who attends your meal to write their name on a leaf and one word that describes something they are thankful for. Designate a child to be responsible for attaching the leaf to a branch with a bit of tape.
If you’re using fine china and crystal, you may want to handle this yourself. However, teach children how to place the knife, fork and spoon. Where does the napkin go? Where do you place the water or tea glass?
Share Family Stories For A Lasting Legacy
Encourage your clan to share stories, perhaps those handed down from your ancestors.
Encourage Everyone To Say At Least One Thing For Which They Are Thankful
Start by offering your own thanksgiving blessings. Go around the table and ask everyone to mention a special blessing this year. Ask someone to lead your family in a special prayer, thanking God for his goodness to your kin.
Carolyn Tomlin is the co-author of The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister. She teaches writing for the magazine market. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Make a Pine Cone Turkey
Gobble, gobble – it’s turkey time! Involve the kids in this simple table decoration.
Dry pine cones
Orange or brown construction paper
Hot glue gun
Bread basket filled with colored leaves
Cut a simple turkey head and wings from construction paper. Use a hot glue gun to attach the
pieces to the pinecone (adult handles glue gun.) Place turkeys on a bed of leaves in the bread
Sweet Potato Casserole
In memory of my Aunt Jessie, this dish is served at each Thanksgiving dinner.
8 c. sweet potatoes
1 tsp. salt
11⁄2 c. sugar
1 stick margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
2 c. miniature marshmallows
Mash cooked potatoes until smooth. Add other ingredients. Spread evenly in baking dish and bake in oven at 350o for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and add marshmallows to top. Bake until brown. Serve warm.