A single slice of bread

Just a reminder that there’ll be some excellent craft fairs this holiday season. The CCMS Craft Fair will be held at the Middle School Dec. 2 from 6-9 p.m. and Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I’ll have a booth and hope you’ll come by and say hello.

Now for my Thanksgiving column, one I enjoy so much writing each year. Of course, two that are part of what I’m so thankful for are close friends and family, with a special thanks for my son Doug, He takes very good care of this old lady. This year I’m especially thankful that my son Dean is still with us, and still unfortunately, having to battle with lawyers and insurance.

Dean was almost killed by a drunk driver nine years ago. Which makes me wonder about Nevada’s legalized marijuana? Just what we need, more impaired drivers on the road! Dean’s wife and daughters are right there fighting for him. Youngest son Dan’s wife Danielle is confined to a wheelchair, a paraplegic. Dan’s hopes that this year he can retire early to assist her with her every day care. She’s in constant pain.

However, they’re signs of improvement in feeling in her extremities. Hope is a beautiful thing. One special Thanksgiving I have to mention is the one my husband Van and I spent with what we always called our “Oakie” friends. Yes, they were from Oklahoma and that’s what they always called themselves. Van met Hubert at work, and those two men hit it off right away.

Then we got to meet his wife Marie and a very tight bond was formed.

These two, and their clan of about 30 other family members, took us in as part of an extended family. On Thanksgiving we joined that crowd for that special meal. In the living room the “guys” were all watching football games while the women were all in the kitchen cooking.

One gal was putting can after can of string beans into one pot, and in another can after can of corn. In each she dumped a huge spoonful of Crisco, together with salt and pepper. I cringed. Believe it or not, that food was delicious. You could smell the aroma of roast beef too. On the counter — covered with foil — was a huge ham. In the sink was something I couldn’t identify.

When I asked what it was they said “the turkey.” I thought, “Are you kidding?” It was this pale whitish bird with sunken in breast. It sat in a pan full of water. They’d boiled that poor bird and once cut up it was even worse than it looked. Otherwise, we enjoyed a wonderful meal, even with that so-called turkey. Marie always made the best-mashed potatoes, and there were lots of other goodies.

This included a half dozen really good pies, three of which I’d brought. The day was just wonderful. As we were about to leave, Marie said that we were also invited for Christmas dinner. I said yes we would come, but only if I brought the turkey. You would not believe their astonishment, when on that day Van carried in a 20-pound butterball that looked like something out of a magazine.

Nothing is easier to cook than a turkey, so I’m not giving myself a pat on the back. Of course this holiday couldn’t go by without my talking about that Thanksgiving back sometime in the late 1930s. My mother’s Canadian cousin had come to visit with his wife Erica, a German immigrant. We had said the blessing and were beginning to pass around the food when I noticed Erica was quietly crying.

My mother asked her what was wrong, and this was her story. During World War One Erica, her mother and sister had been forced out of their home into a basement somewhere. Finally, when they got to what was left of their home, someone had given them a gift of a few slices of white bread. Her mother had stashed it away for later, but the girls were hungry and couldn’t wait.

The girls stole some of it. Their mother punished them. Erica said that looking now at all the beautiful food on that table brought back that memory. I’m going to remind myself of Erica and that white bread as I break bread with my son this Thanksgiving. We all have so much for which to be thankful, even a single small piece of white bread.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at news@lahontanvalleynews.com


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