I know, potato salad is a pretty odd thing for which to be thankful, but on this Thanksgiving eve, I’m feeling nostalgic as we prepare to celebrate another turkey day.
With only three members of the family (me, Ella, and Jimmy, Ella’s brother) in town, we plan to eat at the local Golden Corral around 10:30 a.m. before the restaurant gets too crowded. It’s not very sentimental, but it’s cheaper, and we avoid the big mess in the kitchen. Lack of leftovers is a bummer, though.
Growing up, however, Thanksgiving was a big day in our house. With Mom and two grandmothers preparing food, it was inevitable that the little fat kid that I was would be underfoot in the kitchen, stealing bites of food here and there, and trying to sample as much of the meal as possible before we actually sat down to eat. Since Dad didn’t like turkey, and my Grandma Fair only ate “hog meat,” ham was the meat of choice, and was served with homemade dressing; snap or pole beans with potatoes; collard greens or turnips; rutabagas; fried cornbread; jellied cranberry sauce, and, of course, the aforementioned potato salad, my favorite.
Mom would peel, dice, and boil the potatoes, and then mix them up with a wonderful concoction of mayonnaise, onions, celery, boiled eggs, and some sweet pickle relish. She used a big metal bowl for mixing before gently spooning the salad into a serving dish. Without fail, she would always leave me a little in the bottom of the bowl to sample, and I would do my best to get every last bit of the good stuff before handing the bowl off to be washed.
I was piddling around in our guest house last week, looking through the kitchen cabinets, and actually found that bowl. It looked smaller than I remember, though. I considered taking it home, and preparing the dish as best as I could remember, but realized that it just wouldn’t be the same.
I absent mindedly put the bowl back in the cabinet, lost in the memories of holidays past, and realized how thankful I was not only for what I had, but also for all that my parents had given me, and how they had prepared me, as best they could, for life beyond the thunderdome of childhood.
Still, what I wouldn’t give for one more taste of Mom’s potato salad on Thanksgiving from that big metal bowl.