Thinkin' Back

Thinkin' Back


Thanksgiving – a time for food, family, food, football, food, giving thanks, and of course food! Whether you spend this time preparing food for your loved ones, you spend the time getting ready for kickoff, you volunteer at the local rescue mission, or you prepare to settle in for a binge watching marathon of your favorite TV show, the odds are that you enjoy this holiday.

This has always been a big holiday for my family. The meal planning would start at least a couple of months ahead of time so everyone could decide on what they want to bring. I never really understood why my mom assigned certain family members certain items such as plates, ice, rolls, etc. until I asked my Aunt Maddie *name has been changed because while I may be in my 30’s, I still don’t want to get into trouble and hear my full name be used* one year if she would make the mashed potatoes. Aunt Maddie and I always shared a special bond and mashed potatoes are one of my favorite all time foods…in my mind, nothing could go wrong.

When I proudly announced to momma that Aunt Maddie would be making the mashed potatoes that year because I asked her to, a look of horror followed by a hoot of laughter was momma’s response. What I wouldn’t learn until later was that Aunt Maddie never really learned how to cook, mainly because she never had any interest in it, and that according to daddy she could “burn ice”.

The whole time leading up to Thanksgiving Day, I was bragging that Aunt Maddie was making the mashed potatoes for our family dinner each time I would talk to someone on the phone or if they stopped by the house. My momma kept telling me that Aunt Maddie’s potatoes wouldn’t be like the ones that she makes and that no matter what, remember to be polite when I tried them. This really confused me because I just knew that I loved potatoes and I was sure that Aunt Maddie’s would be like all the ones I had in the past.

The night before our family dinner I accidentally heard momma and daddy talking when I was trying to sneak into the kitchen to sample some of the dishes momma had already fixed. Daddy was doing what he seemed to do best, which is to tease momma, and saying that once I tried Aunt Maddie’s mashed potatoes that potatoes would probably never be my favorite foods again. He said that he had already warned everyone that I hadn’t already talked to about the potatoes that Aunt Maddie would be brining. Momma just hummed in agreement and said that next year Aunt Maddie would be back to bringing the easier stuff like ice and rolls. With my little heart heavy, I went to my room and called Aunt Maddie on the phone and told her not to cook because of what momma and daddy had said.

Aunt Maddie just laughed and told me not to worry. She lifted my little heart back up and told me that she would be there tomorrow with some of the best mashed potatoes I ever had and that she would still bring the ice and rolls.

Thanksgiving Day, after grace was said, it was time to start fixing plates and digging into all the wonderful food that covered every available surface in momma’s kitchen. I was one of the first ones in line and I went straight for Aunt Maddie’s mashed potatoes and that was all I put on my plate. I made a big production of taking my first bite and was a little surprised that they really were good. I remember smiling so big that my cheeks hurt and it was all thanks to Aunt Maddie.

The rest of the family started eating as well and were all pleasantly surprised that Aunt Maddie’s mashed potatoes were good. They were a hit as well as the topic of conversation for several minutes, which at our family dinners is quite a compliment.

After all of the food had either been eaten or stored away, the dishes had all been cleaned up, and the uncles had finished watching the game, people started heading home. I was carrying Aunt Maddie’s empty dish out and was saying again how great she did. With a twinkle in her eye, she made sure that no one was around and leaned down to tell me her secret. She had actually had a friend of hers make the potatoes and drop them off before heading over to our house. She told me that she would tell everyone eventually, but to pay attention; “When someone is so sure that you will fail at something, that’s all the more reason to make sure that you don’t”.

That piece of advice has stayed with me all these years and has helped me several times. Any time that I would see the odds were against me, I would remember what Aunt Maddie told me. I may not have succeeded at what I was doing, but boy did I try and I gave it my all.

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