Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Thanksgiving of Remembrance...

Over the past couple of months, I've been reflecting on Cindy Rollins' talk, Charlotte Mason in Real Life: Courage for the Long Haul, at the Journey: An Education for Life retreat. In relation to Charlotte Mason's motto, Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life, Rollins talked about Freedom, Remembrance, and Contentment. I've been thinking mostly about Remembrance this Thanksgiving Season.

As Levi and I were cleaning out our gifted pumpkins, I was remembering a time when my grandpa planted pumpkins in his garden at the farm. The farm where I grew up was his farm, where my mom also grew up. Back in the 1980's, my family was living on that farm as my parents took over when grandpa and grandma built a new house and moved to town. However, every week day, grandpa would travel to the farm to tend his garden, help my parents in the field, cut wood, or whatever other task presented itself.

Then in the fall, he would harvest his pumpkins and take them to town to grandma. He would help grandma split them open, clean out the "guts", and peel them. Next, grandma would cook them down, puree them, and make pies, freezing any extra pumpkin to be used for pies at other holidays throughout the year. Sometimes, my mom and I would go to town and help. Of course, grandma would always send us home with a pie, which I'm sure my mom knew.

Not only were the pumpkins homegrown, but the lard for the pie crust was rendered from a hog that had been butchered. Oh, how I love pie crust from home rendered lard! Grandma would use the crust scraps to make "buckles". A process where she took the strips and sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon, baking them into sheer pleasure and delicious goodness.

Now, it just so happened that I had a bit of that home rendered lard left in my freezer from days gone past. I figured there was no better time than the present to break it out and make pies with Levi. So we split open those pumpkins, cleaned out the guts, and peeled them. I then cooked them down and pureed them just like grandma did. We yielded eight pints.

Next, we thawed our lard and started in on the crust, of course, using grandma's recipe. We measured, poured, kneaded, and rolled. Throughout the process, I talked about grandma. Riley and Ruben eventually joined us. I told the kids how I loved to snitch the crust before it was baked and how grandma let me. I told them about the buckles. I told them about my mom and my grandpa, who have both since passed away before they knew them. The kids listened intently as remembrance passed between us. 

I am obviously no longer a child though it seems like only yesterday. Every year that goes by, I understand the importance of this remembrance. Our children long to know. They want to feel a sense of belonging. They need to be tethered. Sharing these stories and family traditions is so important, particularly in this narcissistic culture we live. After all, if you have no tie to the past, you can only think of self as you look to the future. 

On the eve of this Thanksgiving, I am looking back in thankfulness for days gone by. For a family with rhythm and tradition. I am thankful for a heritage of remembrance to leave with my children. Together, the kids and I cranked out three pumpkin pies and one dutch apple. We also froze six pints of pumpkin for future pies, just like grandma did. We can't wait to sink our teeth into those pies, but more importantly we remembered the past and created a memory for future. Hopefully, one day my children will look back and tell their children how grandpa grew pumpkins and grandma made pie. 

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