Planning Thanksgiving dinner for a Mississippian with a daughter-in-law who grew up in New Hampshire first of all requires a definition of terms. She had a pad with a line in the middle, my name on one side and hers on the other. Since both of us like to cook Thanksgiving dinner, the decisions were mostly who got the privilege of making which items. She wanted to make her grandmother’s stuffing balls but translated, “I know you call it ‘dressing’.” Now, technically stuffing goes inside the bird and dressing is baked alongside, but in truth what they are called depends more on which side of the Mason-Dixon line one calls home.
I ceded the stuffing/dressing and got two kinds of sweet potato casserole, one with a crunchy topping and one with marshmallows for those who still want the “kind that Mama Butler made.” I picked up the homemade rolls while she took the turkey. I also got two pecan pies – one with and one without pecans. (After she told me at our first Thanksgiving together that she liked the pie but always spit out the pecans, I adjusted so she didn’t waste my good pecans.) We agreed that the cranberry sauce should come in a can so diners would see the beautiful ridges when we sliced it – no gourmets here who want the lovely fresh kind made with berries.
She invited a couple who were too far away to go home for the holiday, the Tulane grandson brought a couple of friends from New Orleans, and we had a friends and family Thanksgiving.
The stuffing balls were tasty and so was the acorn squash one of the friends added to the menu. The marshmallow sweet potatoes disappeared before the crunchy. The dessert table became crowded with the additions to the planned menu of a pumpkin pie and cookies from the college crowd, Al’s carrot cake, apple crumble from the guests, and buckeyes from my daughter-in-law and was actually superfluous after the huge meal but they were eaten with relish all the same.
Stuffing or dressing? – It really doesn’t matter if the food is delicious, the friends and family show up, and the football games are good.