I have always worried that I would not be able to carry on the traditions of my family.
Meals have been so important in connection with my immediate and extended family.
If I taste a chocolate pie made by one of my aunts, I immediately transport myself to a simpler time in my life. I’m a six year old girl again going to Grannie’s house for a potluck lunch after church.
All of my family is there; all of my daddy’s four sisters with their spouses and children which correlates to over 20 people in attendance. There is quite a spread provided by everyone.
I smell the macaroni and cheese, I see the vivid green lima beans, and I can almost taste the broccoli salad- just a few of my lunch favorites there.
What I, along with the rest of the crowd, really desire is Grannie’s chocolate pie. It’s like Grannie, nothing fancy or extravagant, but a true family favorite.
Grannie passed away in 2013, but every time her chocolate pie appears at a family dinner, I’m lost in these memories upon the taste.
We no longer meet with Daddy’s family every Sunday for lunch now.
The grandchildren have had their own children, and some great-grandchildren are now graduating high school.
While my small children never met Grannie, they still experience the joy of Sunday lunch.
My mama welcomes her children, in-laws, and grandchildren every Sunday to join in conversation and consumption of the bounty of her table.
Every Sunday the meal varies from roast with southern fixings to “Sandwich Sunday” as mama lovingly refers to her easiest meal to prepare.
Mama also has her own dessert that frequents the table; dump cake.
To be more specific, a cherry pineapple dump cake with nuts is often served.
Mama willingly admits that she is not the baker that Grannie was, but she still tries in her own way to provide Daddy and the rest of the family with something sweet.
The years have certainly brought changes, but there is still a sacredness and stability in these Sunday lunches.
Thanksgiving, however, is the yearly highlight and pinnacle of all meals in my opinion.
Often I’ve reflected upon Sunday lunches and major holiday gatherings with anticipation of the weight of being the head cook. Will I be able to bring justice to these family traditions?
On Thanksgiving day in the year of 2020, my fears become reality. The majority of my immediate family contracted COVID-19.
My brother-in-law would not be cooking a delicious turkey. Sweet potato soufflé and squash casserole would not be prepared by Mama’s hands.
Thanksgiving would not be what I know and love it to be.
I soon realized if a Thanksgiving meal was to be at my house, then I was the one responsible for it. I could not bear the thoughts of the ones who always prepared Thanksgiving for me to be without this traditional dinner.
I would be lying to say that I had family recipes that I had tucked away awaiting this pivotal moment in time. No, I went into panic mode scouring Pinterest to figure out how to cook dressing.
Several phone calls and texts later, in addition to a Pinterest scavenger hunt, I had a solid menu: turkey, dressing, corn, sweet potato soufflé, deviled eggs, green beans, and Grannie’s chocolate pie.
Everything appeared to be edible on Thanksgiving Day, and it actually was!
I can’t express the gratitude and relief I felt as I delivered this meal to family members. I know it may not have been a five star meal in many respects, but I think it tasted a little richer given the circumstances.
Doubt had been erased. When the time comes that I have children and grandchildren to feed, I believe I can meet the expectations of family tradition.
You may not have the gravity of family traditions weighing on your shoulders this Thanksgiving. You may be the one starting a family tradition this year.
I’m reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5:
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”2 Timothy 1:5 NIV
Keeping Christian Thanksgiving Traditions
What we pass to our families has eternal consequences. A meal fills the needs of our bodies, but our morals fuels the state of our souls.
Not only was my Grannie an impeccable cook, but she radiated a kind sweet spirit.
My mama, although so different from Grannie, possesses that same characteristic. Why? The love of Jesus.
Traditions change, collide, and collapse as time passes in families. There can be an eternal consistency, though, in your decision to follow Jesus.
He’s not a tradition or story to pass to the next generation, but He’s alive in the hearts of those who choose to follow Him.
As we know Him through prayer and reading His word, we in turn become a mirror of Him to those around us.
My prayer is more than the joy of consuming our family’s chocolate pie, my descendants will partake in this commandment as I am trying to:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”Psalm 34:8 NIV
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