Pipi’s Pasture: Thanksgiving on the ranch

Diane Prather
Pipi's Pasture

Thanksgiving is about a week away, and I’m thinking back to those childhood days when I was growing up on the ranch. Sometimes there was snow on the ground or other times it was dry and warm, as it has been (so far) this year. We kids went to school until perhaps Wednesday and then walked home where we were greeted by the wonderful aroma of food being prepared for the dinner.

The dining room table was covered with cookie sheets of dried bread, waiting to be cubed and seasoned with sage. A bowl of nuts and nutcracker had been set out so that one of us kids could crack the nuts and have them ready for desserts. Some pies had already been baked. Mom was busy, indeed.

There was always a big Thanksgiving dinner with the Osborn family. Some years it was held at Grandpa and Grandma Osborn’s house up Deer Creek and other years at our house. We had a very small house, and today it seems impossible that very many people could have even fit into it.

I didn’t matter who the hostess was; everyone contributed some dishes to the dinner. The food was set out on the dining room table, and then we kids fixed our plates first and went somewhere else to eat. The adults ate at the dining room table. My grandparents had a “formal” dining room; ours was an extension of the living room.

The table was loaded with turkey and the usual trimmings: mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, a vegetable of some sort, cranberries and dinner rolls. Women brought salads and desserts, some of which might have been their specialties and some other recipes they were trying for the first time.

There were pies galore: pumpkin, apple, cherry and mincemeat. The mincemeat pie, made from beef or venison, was a favorite of many and a Thanksgiving tradition of sorts. Each piece of pie was slathered with whipped cream made from cream straight from the cow, sweetened and whipped. There were cakes, too — probably applesauce.

After a big dinner the men went outdoors for “a smoke” and to visit. The women cleaned up the dishes. We kids played with our cousins. At chore time the men went home to do chores and then returned to enjoy leftovers.

Eating the Thanksgiving leftovers has always been my favorite part of the holiday for me. There’s nothing tastier than a sandwich made from a dinner roll and leftover turkey. No matter if we ate Thanksgiving dinner away from home, Mom baked a turkey with dressing anyway so we could enjoy leftovers.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the many memories. I’m a fortunate woman to have so many wonderful people in my life: my incredible family, co-workers, students, readers, business people I work with on a daily basis, and friends. If I were to list them all, it would take a full page of the newspaper. Thanks so much to everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving.

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