Is it that steamy mound of creamy mashed potatoes, begging for a generous splash of savory gravy? Grandma’s candied sweet potatoes or Aunt Beverley’s green bean casserole? Maybe for you it’s all about the turkey itself with its golden brown crispy skin — moist when you slice into it, even better with cornbread stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce. Can’t forget the pies — homemade pumpkin or apple? Yes, please!
Safe to say, this traditional holiday meal wouldn’t be quite as delicious without all the sharing — the sharing of cooking, baking, and serving tasks, and of course, having family and friends sitting around the table to devour every last bite.
Mama, fetch the cooking pot.
Fetch our turkey-cooking pot.
Big and old and black and squat.
Mama, fetch the pot.
An enthusiastic young boy coaches each member of his family on a specific task: Mama prepares the turkey, Daddy tends the fire, Sister kneads the dough, Brother bastes the turkey, Grandpa boils the cranberries, Grandma bakes pumpkin pie, Auntie mashes potatoes, Uncle pours cider, and even Baby’s got a job — to “be a sleeping mouse.” With his brother and sister, the boy also makes paper pilgrim hat placemats, and when all is finally done, he calls everyone to the table. Yum!
Okay Okay. I KNOW I’ve been a tad indecisive lately, asking you to call me Melon Head, then Apple Dumpling, and last week, Apple Pudding.
And not for a second would I presume to be as adorable as little bossy lady Lucy up there who without a doubt personifies the term of endearment, “Pumpkin,” like no one else.
I am now a Pumpkin Girl, having braved the chilly winds and hoodie-cladded throngs of wriggly, hyper-adenoidal munchkins with their parental units who led the charge at Cox Pumpkin Farm this past weekend.
Oh, so brave! Are you impressed by the sacrifice? All just for you, natch.
Today we celebrate the joy that is pumpkinness with an iconic poem and some pumpkin pie. Are you wearing your orange bib? I notice you have on your Halloween mask again. That’s good too.
Often shared at Thanksgiving, this is an interesting poem because of Whittier’s reference to pumpkin carving in his boyhood, which suggests the practice predated widespread Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 1840’s (hat tip to American Scrapbook for that tidbit).
As you probably know, the Irish had the most influence on the celebration of Halloween (they used to carve out turnips to light the way on their midnight Autumn ramblings). In America they simply substituted pumpkins since they were so plentiful.
Whittier’s tribute to the pumpkin first appeared in the Boston Chronotype in 1846, and I must say I do like his mention of pumpkin pie!
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Have a GOOD GOBBLE tomorrow. EAT PIE!
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