pumpkin pie o’clock

‘Tis time to be thankful and eat pie. πŸ™‚

Though some grow giddy at the mere thought of roast turkey with all the fixins’, for me, Thanksgiving has always been about pie.

Pumpkin pie, to be exact.

Maybe it’s because we only had it once a year. Though we dallied with apple, blueberry, banana cream, custard and pecan at other times, pumpkin pie was largely reserved for Thanksgiving.

To this day, one bite and I’m back in Hawai’i at one of our family potlucks — table laden not only with turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, yams, several hot veggies, and fresh cranberry sauce, but also pineapple glazed ham, steamed rice, makizushi, pork and vegetable lo mein, at least two kinds of kimchi, a retro Jell-O salad, and a roast chicken for Grandma Yang, who did not like turkey.

Yes, we relished every savory mouthful of this lovingly prepared homemade spread, but I always knew, deep down, that the best was yet to come.

Here’s a delectable poem to whet your appetite.


Digital painting by Lois Boyce
by Camille A. Balla

I recall the first Thanksgiving
I was designated to be the pumpkin-pie baker
and for years thereafter; pies made
with the excitement of family homecoming --
always making the dough from scratch.

Today I call upon the Pillsbury boy
to make and roll out the circle of dough
which I place into the pan, then add
the traditional filling with just the right
amounts of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

The November chill makes cozy the warmth
from the oven as I await the sweet, spicy aroma,
telling me when the pie is just about done.
How satisfying it is to delight once again
in this simple work of my hands.

I think of the many hands
along the way to my kitchen that made
possible the baking of this pie:
The grower of the pumpkin,
the wheat farmer, the dairy farmer, the egg
the hands that picked the sugar cane.
The hands of workers in a cannery,
of truckers who transport foods to the store,
the hands of the people who shelve ingredients
that come from here or far-off lands.

Hands of people I never met
yet all of them a part -- whether aware or not --
of this pumpkin pie now ready
to be served at my Thanksgiving table.


A lovely poem with equal measures of reflection and gratitude — one that resonates with us all.

The nice thing about pumpkin pie is that it’s easy to make from scratch, thanks to canned pumpkin purΓ©e. Libby’s is the brand that dominates the market; they were the first to offer canned pumpkin on a large scale back in 1929. Thank goodness we don’t have to roast and strain our own squash! BTW, did you know Libby’s isn’t actually pumpkin, but another kind of squash with orange flesh called Dickinson?

But thanks to Libby’s, the ease of making pumpkin pie at home ensured its place in America’s holiday traditions.

Now, if you want to trace the actual origin of ‘pumpkin pie,’ we have to credit — you guessed it — the British, who made the very first version in the mid 1500’s. Though the Pilgrims brought it with them to America in the 1600s, apparently ‘pie’ wasn’t served at the very first Thanksgiving (though other pumpkin based recipes were).

Their version of pumpkin pie, served during subsequent three-day harvest festivals, was one sans crust. They simply washed and hollowed out a pumpkin, filled it with cream or milk, then baked it whole. By the 18th century, pumpkin pie had become an established part of autumn harvest celebrations.

The very first published recipe for modern pumpkin pie (called ‘pompkin pudding’) appeared in Amelia Simmons’s American Cookery (1796). This was the first cookbook containing recipes using ingredients native to the Americas.

Well, it looks like the pie Poppin’ Fresh baked a little while ago is just about cooled. Would you like a piece? Yum to cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger — spices that are synonymous with the holidays. They always smell so good!

Must mention my shock at attending my first New Hampshire Thanksgiving with Len’s family many years ago. No pumpkin pie! Len says he didn’t grow up having it at Thanksgiving (to this day, he’s pretty neutral about it). They usually had apple or mince pie instead.

So, tell me, New England people, is pumpkin pie not a Thanksgiving tradition in your neck of the woods? Maybe Len’s family was just an exception.

Truly though, if you invited me over for Thanksgiving, I’d happily devour any kind of pie you put in front of me. πŸ˜€

But now it’s time to express gratitude.

Foremost in my mind is to thank America for voting this year. I am grateful for all those who stood in line for hours and hours amid a raging pandemic, who made a plan and voted ahead of time, who wouldn’t let anything stop them from exercising their constitutional right.

And thanks to the poll workers, the thousands who counted an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, persisting despite attacks on their integrity.

Thank you, Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight

I cannot overstate my deepest gratitude to African American voters, especially the black women who have long formed the backbone of the Democratic Party (I’m totally in awe of their grassroots organizing and no-nonsense determination to get the job done!).

Is it not ironic, as well as heart wrenching, how the group most denigrated and oppressed in our nation’s history, who continue to be the targets of voter suppression as well as systemic racism, are the very ones who saved our democracy?

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.*

When they stood up for themselves, they ultimately stood up for all of us.

We must never forget that.

I am thankful that come January 20 we will have a new President and Vice President, a fresh chance to right the ship and turn the page for a more just, equitable, inclusive, kinder nation . . .

Wherever you are, whomever you’re sharing your Thanksgiving with this year, we wish you the ultimate in deliciousness, lots of lip smacking leftovers, and at least nine kinds of pie, including pumpkin.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Mr Cornelius, 70-something Paddingtons, Blue Bear, Le Lapin Rotund, and Pie Girl


P.S. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?

“Eat Pie” print by Julie Paschkis

Carol is hosting the Roundup at Carol’s Corner. Be sure to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Hope you’re having a nice Thanksgiving weekend!


Chalk print by Lily & Val

*excerpt from “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

**Copyright Β© 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

32 thoughts on “pumpkin pie o’clock

  1. I grew up just outside of Boston and we always had pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. That was the ONLY time of year we ate pumpkin pie. Loved learning more about this wonderful traditional dessert. Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. In Missouri, all kinds of pie, and yes, pumpkin! The youngest granddaughter celebrates every fall when the pumpkin pies are plentiful at the markets! She has the pie instead of a birthday cake! I will share this bountiful post with her today, Jama. We have pumpkin and I made a pecan to add to the feast. I am grateful for you and all my online connections. It would have been lonely this year without everyone. I love your extra gratitude list. Stacey Abrams and her calls to action saved us. Now, onward to the Georgia runoff! Happy Thanksgiving to you and Len!


    1. Love that she has a pumpkin pie for her birthday!! My Dad loved pecan pie; we have a whole bag of pecans so I need to make one — maybe chocolate pecan this time? I agree about the importance of online friends — even though we had to self isolate, we were still connected. Made a huge difference. Fingers, eyes, toes crossed for the Georgia run-offs in January! Have a delicious gobble-y day, Linda!


  3. Happy Thanksgiving from the Bronx where we always have pumpkin pie. We love it so much that we start having store bought pumpkin starting in September. My mom would always buy a mince pie as well l, and a coconut custard! Enjoy your day!πŸ¦ƒπŸ¦ƒπŸ¦ƒ


  4. I confess to not making my own pumpkin pie, but I’m madly in love with Costco pumpkin pie, and that’s what we get. (I’ve had it from other stores, and it’s awful.) I also recommend the Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie and their pumpkin ice cream, which has very strong fall spices, especially nutmeg and cloves. I haven’t had their pie for a while, but as I recall it also has strong, what I call “dark” spices.

    Aside from pumpkin pie, I think my favorite is the turkey. Of course, it makes good sandwiches the day after, especially on leftover rolls. We also like to dip turkey in our family version of ranch dressing, snowy dip, which is made from 1 cup mayo, 1 cup Greek yogurt, a little lemon, and a little garlic.

    Like you, I am also very thankful for Biden and Harris winning the election and for all the people that made that happen.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jama and friends!


    1. You are a pumpkin expert!! I’ve never had Costco’s nor Trader Joe’s pp. Your snowy dip sounds interesting — like a turkey hors d’oeuvre :). And YES to turkey sandwiches on rolls!


  5. Like Len, I did not grow up with pumpkin pie (and I lived in Massachusetts.) We usually had apple, pecan, or blueberry pie. But my husband’s family in upstate NY always had pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and I’ve been baking the foolproof pie on the back of the Libby’s can for many years. Usually I bake a blueberry pie, too, but this year it’s just the two of us so one pumpkin pie was more than enough.
    I, too, am a fan of Stacey Abrams and am so thankful for a return to sanity. I’m especially thankful that Biden is appointing a cabinet-level climate envoy. Now if Georgia turns blue again we might see real progress!


    1. Sounds like upstate NY people are pumpkin pie people! Surprised that as a Massachusetts person, you didn’t grow up with it. I certainly have nothing against apple, pecan or blueberry — but none seem to have as strong an association with a particular holiday like pumpkin does. I do associate New England, esp. Massachusetts, with Plymouth Rock, Mayflower, Pilgrims, Native Americans and logically (at least to my mind) pumpkin pie.

      Fingers crossed for the Georgia run-offs. MM is itching to continue his obstructing and he must be stopped!


  6. Thank you for the mouthwatering pumpkin pie. I didn’t have any yesterday, during our Plague Thanksgiving. Great post altogether. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  7. What a wonderful post…the pie, the vintage Libby’s advertisements, the history. It’s all so good. Thank you, Jama.
    I’m from upstate New York. My Grandmother cooked from her very old Boston Cookbook and we always had pumpkin pie. I’m such a pie fan that I spent all day Wednesday baking two apple, two pumpkin and two blueberry pies. That’s one whole pie for each member of my family. I doubt we can eat all of it. I will need to share some with the neighbors. But, it was really fun and a tradition I cannot imagine giving up.
    My son has requested pumpkin pie for his birthday dessert…we are a pie loving family that’s for sure!
    I share your thanks for our future and for those that saved our democratic butts from complacency over the past several elections. As an educator I will strive to celebrate the people that have worked so hard to preserver our democracy against all odds. It truly is up to us to fight for this beloved land. Cheers, Jama.


    1. I am SO impressed that you baked 6 pies yesterday! Also love that you have a pie loving family. And your son is just like Linda B’s granddaughter, who requests pumpkin pie for her birthday instead of a cake. Maybe it’s a movement!! πŸ™‚


  8. Yummmm! I promised myself no sweets today, but your post makes me want to run for the kitchen and a second breakfast. I’m the only person in my family who eats pumpkin pie, so there’s 3/4 of a pie left from yesterday. Love learning the history, along with all of the memorabilia!

    So, so grateful that January is coming! And like you, so thankful to all of us who have battled to make it happen. That day can’t come soon enough for me!


  9. I’m making my pie today – we had too much food for it yesterday – and I think it’ll be blueberries, with pumpkin soon to follow. ‘Tis the pie season indeed!


  10. Happy Thanksgiving, Jama! I can tell you, I’ve lived in New Hampshire most of my life and we ALWAYS had pumpkin pie! (These days, my wife makes a vegan version you’d never tell was egg- and milk-free) Thank you for all you do for those of us who write and read poetry, and for the image of a home-roasted pineapple-glazed ham…mmmm!


    1. Thanks for telling me — I had assumed pumpkin pie was pretty standard no matter where one lived. No pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving is like not eating a hot dog at a baseball game or no corn on the cob for the Fourth of July. πŸ™‚


  11. Sad, but true…I can’t remember the desserts served at my childhood Thanksgivings! I remember black olive fingertips, homemade blue cheese salad dressing, and ham with cloves stuck into the intersections of the score lines (because dad didn’t like turkey).

    Much appreciation for your shoutout to Black women who did so much to “right the ship and turn the page for a more just, equitable, inclusive, kinder nation.”


  12. I love pumpkin pie, Jama, and I guess I’m not alone. I also make the Libby’s recipe. So many hands are behind the food we eat and it’s good to be reminded of and grateful for that.


  13. Jama, you are so right to celebrate the traditions of pumpkin pie right alongside the innovations of a politics that properly, hopefully includes EVERYone. My favorite factoid is that the Libby’s can contains Dickinson squash. Why isn’t that false advertising, I wonder? This year our pie was made from little Halloween pumpkins roasted whole and pureed. It was sweeter and tastier than what was in my Trader Joe’s can. I’m sad it’s over!


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