THE AMISH COOK: Circumstances change, but life is always ‘stuffed’ with reasons to give thanks
Thanksgiving has always been a highlight in our house. As a little girl, my mom would always cook up a big meal, and without fail we’d have guests at our home unless we had received an invitation to join another family. Sometimes when the holiday season rolled around, we as church families would draw names to decide who would be gathering in whose home. That way, we would all have something planned, and no would be excluded, whether they had relatives here or not.
With us having enough space to host guests, we’d often end up with a couple of families at our house. My brothers and I would always be delighted, yet I remember how we’d groan when clean up time came after they left. Oh my, I’m sure I never really thought of all Mom was doing to get ready for everyone. Our guests would also help with the meal. Usually, we’d have an Amish meal of mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, salad, pie, and the likes. Before Grandma passed away she would offer to make noodles and dressing which was oh, so good.
I remember we children would anxiously wait to see who we’d be paired up with; to us, it was of utmost importance that we’d get to spend the day with friends our age. Etched in my memory are the times the Stutzman siblings would play with us even though they were a couple of years older. They simply had a way of doing fun things on our level, never pining to be with others their age.
I shake my head and wonder if it can be true that I am now a mother; we are now the ones making memories for our children and laying the foundation for their future. Am I focused on doing what I want, or am I concerned the most about my children?
And you know as the years go by, I find myself asking myself really why we celebrate holidays. Is it to have a grand time and eating to our heart’s content, or is there another reason for me personally, to celebrate the occasion?
And you know, for me it’s not the same from one year to the next. There have been Thanksgiving seasons where I just felt like I was bubbling with gratitude, but then there are others where gratitude naturally ranks on the very bottom of the list if it even happens to be on it at all.
You know what I’m talking about; you can fill in the blanks of when you’ve had a loss right over the holidays, and the zip and spark for the occasion just drained out right on the spot. And then somehow and some way, even though it looked like a complete dead end, things change in perspective as you muster the courage to whisper, “Thank you, Lord,” for the first time. Every fiber of your being felt like screaming instead of thanking God for a stitch of it, yet this simple act of faith was a profound starting point for the Lord to work things out for his glory even if it still hurt.
Today as I think of Thanksgiving, it’s difficult to find any words that fit. This past year it felt like I had a “zillion” questions minus answers. Yesterday, another foster mother with adopted children told me that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Relief! I knew it but needed to hear it. I’m just so thankful God’s resources don’t end where my frail ones do. And you know, somehow I wouldn’t ask to have had the past year on easy street.
So this year, let’s join hands, thanking God, not only for what He has done for us but for what He will continue to do for all of us as we praise Him.
I want to pass on our stuffing recipe (or dressing, as us Amish folks call it) for you to try this Thanksgiving. Before Grandma passed away a year and a half ago, she was known for her excellent dressing.
1 loaf of bread, cubed
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup potatoes, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, cut fine
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon chicken base
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion salt
Boil carrots and onions together until tender. Then, in a large kettle, toast bread cubes in butter until crisp. Dump bread cubes into a large bowl. Add carrots and onions and rest of the ingredients. Beat eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Mix well and add to the rest. Put into a large roaster and bake at 45 minutes or fry on top of the stove.