… last night I burned my finger taking pies out of my oven and this morning the smoke alarm went off. Not due to my cooking… some smoke got in the house from the wood stove, and the bad thing about good insulation in a new home is that the smoke stays in the house and sets off the alarm.
For the last two years, Thanksgiving has been incredibly low key for my family. Up until then, we were always working at the farm. We would bake pies all night long, and customers would start to line up before 6 a.m. to get them. Apple and pumpkin were the favorites, of course, followed closely by Fruits of the Forest, which is a mixture of apples, strawberries, rhubarb, red raspberries and blackberries. I remember as a child staying up late with my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, running in and out of the warm kitchen at the farm market and camping out in my grandmother’s office. We’d help box pies, label the the boxes, wash trays, take out the trash. One of the most fun parts was jumping in the cardboard dumpster to help make room for more. We’d get to skip school on Tuesday and Wednesday, since they were the busiest days. There are so many funny memories of those late nights baking, from falling asleep and burning a load of pies to our “Employee of the Year” nomination accompanied by a goofy picture. In high school, I couldn’t miss school because of basketball try-outs, but I’d always end up at the stand afterwards, helping customers and then baking into the night. In college, I’d again skip classes so I could bake all night, take a quick nap and then get up early to work on the cash register. We’d spend endless hours counting pies and playing the guessing game that we’d baked enough of each kind, but not so much that there would be too many left. When I started teaching, I’d rush out of school at 2:00 to head to the stand to relieve people who had been working all day, and then I’d stay and bake until 10 or 12 before heading home to get some sleep before going back to school. It was stressful, and there was more than one customer that lacked the holiday spirit, but like most things in life, I remember the good parts. The Thanksgiving rush, in my mind, is the perfect example of a farm family working together to make it. Everyone, all generations, help out, doing whatever needs to be done. From small children (although we’re all grown up now) to my grandmother and everyone in between, all had a role to play. But, by the time Thursday came around, we were so exhasted and nobody wanted to eat pie.
Last year we decided to close and skip the Thanksgiving madness. We’re still open from May to October, and lots of customers buy pies to freeze for Thanksgiving. As we all grow up and work off the farm, it’s hard for everyone to find the time to help out, and my grandmother can only do so much. Last year was the first year I actually got to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving, and I know a lot of my family feels the same way. Instead of running around like crazy this week, I got to coach my school’s powderpuff football team. Although we didn’t win the game, I was impressed by all the hard work that the girls did to get to that point, and I was extremely proud of the way that the girls represented their town. It feels strange to not be rushing around, but it feels good to only have to bake three pies instead of thousands. Last year we attended Ed’s family’s party at his aunt and uncle’s home in Rhode Island for the first time, and this year we’ll be eating dinner with my family. It’s a new tradition and a new chapter in my life.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!