Thanksgiving is a holiday for the senses! A holiday teaming with delectable aromas and color. A holiday for remembering or creating a lifetime of memories. A holiday when everyone has a singleness of purpose, and in theory at least: that is expressing thanks. A multitude of connotations flows from the Thanksgiving cornucopia.
It’s a culinary celebration of appreciation. Delicious food is a topic almost everyone can wrap their forks around, and so, families and friends gather to acknowledge their gratitude for—well, for that which they are grateful, while sharing a veritable feast. No matter if the object of thankfulness is for something as sobering as overcoming a serious medical condition or for something as outwardly mundane as being able to smell the baking pumpkin pies, it’s a unique opportunity to reflect on just how lucky most of us really are, while drooling over the scalloped oysters.
As a child, the days leading up to that sensory overload were filled with the smell of freshly waxed hardwood floors and of silver polish. A luscious perfume of baking cornbread and pies, roasting pecans, vanilla, sage, and poultry seasoning filled the air. In South Mississippi, even the fragrance of the abundant loblolly pines seemed to be heightened in the crisp November air.
Scents from our childhoods are lifelong reminders of cherished memories. The aroma of sautéing onion and celery was one of those unmistakable signs that preparations for Thanksgiving cornbread dressing were well under way. Today, no matter when I experience it, a whiff of that duo of freshly chopped vegetables slowly simmering in a bed of sizzling butter takes me back to the warm comfort of my Mother’s kitchen on the day before the succulent holiday. She labored cheerfully there with the single-minded intent of creating not just a delicious meal for a plethora of diners, but also an occasion that would become a memory.
By Thanksgiving here in Tennessee, nature’s colors have changed from the lush green of summer, to the rich autumn shades of crimson, gold and orange. Even the bountiful holiday table displays the orange of flowers, the golden brown of the roasted turkey, the deep red of the cranberry sauce, and the cornbread dressing is baked to a rich golden brown, topped with dark umber gravy. Rich colors are often accompanied by rich hearts, when unexpected kindness springs from unpredictable places, as countless people do unrewarded and numerous acts of generosity.
What’s not to like about Thanksgiving! It’s an opportunity to be with the people we love, to share with those who are in need and to take a moment to “SMELL THE CORNBREAD!”
All Photos By Deborah Fagan Carpenter