Tag Archives: cheese grits

A Thanksgiving story

On this day after Thanksgiving, I am seeing shadows.  

The Thanksgiving holiday was spent primarily at my family home in Lee’s Summit — the white, two-story 1920s home that my parents purchased in 1979, and which is now owned by my youngest sister and family.

As I made the traditional cheese grits on Thursday afternoon, I found myself thinking about a particular Thanksgiving in the 1980s.  Mom’s brother, Uncle Edwin, was in town with his wife Mary.  My grandmother was there too.  And perhaps Aunt Esther, although I don’t recall.  

Mom had worked hard on the Thanksgiving meal, but when Mary and I found out that she did not plan on having stuffing, we set to work.  Mary made cornbread, and the result was some of the most wonderful stuffing ever.  Several of us raved about it, at the expense of raving about the rest of the meal.

Mom was not happy.

I still remember how badly I felt.

This is now the 20th Thanksgiving without Mom here.  The traditions continue.  We ate food from my maternal grandmother’s plates on Thursday, and we had the traditional family additions of cheese grits and paper-sack apple pie.  My sisters and I shared the cooking duties, with the addition of Karen’s adult son Blayne and Beth’s wonderful husband Robert.  New traditions are set too, including plates of things like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

More shadows are emerging, and more additions are present too, including the lovely young great-niece Lily.

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for SO many things, not least of them family, and shadows that ground and remind and connect me to a place and people, and most importantly for the means of grace and for the hope of glory.

The Thanksgiving meal

My dining room table was filled with six students plus me. The menu included turkey, homemade cornbread stuffing, buttered carrots, cheese grits, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, sesame rolls, cranberry relish (these last two things the only not-from-scratch menu items).  For dessert, pineapple pie and pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream.

Turkey breast before and after:

Stuffing before and after:

The serving trough:

And I must say: I was plum wore out Thursday night.  The children left, and I took a 90-minute nap.  That much cooking and doing was a delightful but tiring chore.

I spent Thanksgiving evening watching the live stream from Hesston College and their annual Thanksgiving concert, this year featuring combined Hesston forces in Haydn’s The Creation.  The stand-out?  Ken Rodgers at the harpsichord, of course!

Wrapping up the day

The lamb chops and asparagus and cheese grits were a hit.  Artichoke dip got rave reviews.  But the tres leches cake?  Divinely ordained, apparently!

I taught a make-up lesson this evening, and caught most of the first act of Into the Woods at the Webster University Conservatory, where the cast and crew were finishing tech weekend with a first full run tonight.

And seeing Jeff A always makes me happy.

Pictures from the rest of the day:

Thanksgiving dinner


Seven of my students answered the summons to Thanksgiving dinner at Chez Samson.

The menu was smoked turkey, corn on the cob, smashed potatoes, cheese grits, green bean casserole with pimentos, apple/sage dressing, cream gravy, sour cream yeast rolls, lime pickles.  Desserts were honey pecan pie, paper sack apple pie, and pumpkin cream pie.

K and I enjoyed being the two old guys with a delightful group of students.  We finished with some funny YouTube, and then a great deal of Christmas song around the piano.

This was a tremendously fulfilling day!


3 lbs of apples.  3 dishwasher loads.  9 kitchen towels.  Multiple lbs of turkey.  1 turkey neck plus onion and celery and bay leaf, all boiled for stock for gravy.  3 lbs of new potatoes.  Loads of green beans.  And of course a batch of cheese grits.

And 7 happy voices around the table.

This was my Thanksgiving, as friends and a couple of students enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast & fellowship.

The End

Another semester is gone.

Saturday morning self-portrait.

With the conclusion of sophomore candidacy meetings yesterday, and after a syllabus-writing workshop with some faculty members, Fall 2011 is history.

I ended the office day with a grumpiness about email issues as my sent mail wasn’t syncing.  The tech and support staff took four hours to fix the issue.

But that was the only blip in a productive final day of the semester.  I still have to assign some grades for applied lessons.  And the pile of projects – ongoing, deferred, looking ahead – awaits next week when I’m in for three days only.

I finished Friday with a home-cooked meal (roast beef, cheese grits, buttered peas, cooked apples – just like Grandma’s kitchen), a decent bottle of red wine, some grappa, and lots of conversation with two dear friends.

Samson the Feist is at Doggy Spa right now.  I’m treating myself to a massage later this morning.  And my friend Todd is in from KCMO, so I’ll see him today and share dinner at a four-top at Lorenzo’s on the Hill this evening.