Thanksgiving without Gratitude is not Thanksgiving

Every fourth Thursday in November—now going on 78 years—I have celebrated Thanksgiving Day.

American journalist Edward Sandford Martin has a different take on the holiday.

“Thanksgiving Day comes by statute, once a year; to the honest man, it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow,” he says.

On Thanksgiving Days of the past, my family always had plenty of gratitude for what we received.

Thanksgiving has a lot to do with the heart because for most of us, it brings back countless memories of family gatherings around a large table, brimming with food. Memories also are of other festive activities, such as playing games, watching football and, of course, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  

As a Southerner raised in south Louisiana, Thanksgiving dinner consisted of turkey and cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs and some kind of casserole.

The drink of the day was almost always iced tea and, later, coffee. Everyone had their favorites—mine was the turkey and cornbread dressing. Some liked the drumstick; some ate nothing but the wings, and my favorite was white meat with plenty of my wife’s brown gravy poured over it. After the main course came yummy desserts, which consisted of pumpkin pie, apple pie, at least one cake, and my wife’s specialty, coconut cream pie. Nobody in the family has been able to duplicate her delectable pie!

While some of the ladies and men (a few) were cleaning up, the talking would begin and be nonstop. The kids, weather-permitting, were outside playing. A few hours later, and I’m not kidding, it was time to eat again, but this time, it was buffet style. 

My wife, Judy, and I have never forgotten our roots. Even though for many years now we have been separated from some of our family back in Louisiana, we carry on basically the same age-old traditions we learned from our parents. What’s nice now is even though separated from family or friends, you can use modern technology and Skype with loved ones, call family or even volunteer time to serve up Thanksgiving for the less fortunate, thus filling the empty space in your heart that being away from other family presents. 

“So, this coming Thanksgiving Day, your family may be scattered across the country, and sadly we are missing some–although not in our hearts. But when possible, we still get together. When we’re not able to gather, we still keep the spirit alive with lots of great food, and tremendous amount of talking and good fun. Happy Thanksgiving.” —Dr. Boris J. Materne

 

MAW MAW HARRIS AND MOM’S COCONUT CREAM PIE RECIPE

Serves: 8

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour or 1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups milk

4 eggs

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup flaked coconut

Baked pastry shell

To make filling, combine sugar, flour or cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Separate egg yolks from whites; set whites aside for meringue. Beat egg yolks slightly. Gradually stir 1 cup of the hot mixture into yolks. Return egg mixture to saucepan; bring to gentle boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in butter, coconut and vanilla. Pour hot filling into baked pastry shell. Spread meringue over hot filling; seal to edge. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flaked coconut over meringue. Bake in a 350 F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or till golden. Cool. Cover; chill to store.

JOHNNY MATERNE’S PECAN PIE RECIPE CAJUN STYLE 

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup pecans

1/2 stick butter

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup white Karo syrup

Unbaked pie shell

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add pecans, salt, vanilla and Karo syrup. Pour in unbaked pie shell and bake in 350 F oven 45 minutes to 1 hour.