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THE STUFFING: Truth, Tradition, Carbs

Its increase is legend.

It can be too dry… worse still, too moist.

It can go in the bird, however, if no caution is taken this method can quickly ruin every Thanksgiving from now until forever.  You only have to get Salmonella at one Thanksgiving Day feast to #neverforget.

This is my 46th Thanksgiving.

I thought that the first time I broke the wishbone with the Amerines I had seen it all.  The year was 1991, it was the first time that I witnessed the consumption of over 15 dozen hard boiled eggs at the November extravaganza.  One would have thought it was Easter.  I was confused but quiet.  I’d seen a few oddities in my lifetime.  A friend from high school’s family would partake in turkey, dressing, and chicken and dumplings.  That same family would then sleep for 36 hours straight like brown bears in October in Montana.  Every year I noticed that friend took the Monday after Thanksgiving off too.  I am certain it was because she was terribly constipated and possibly in a diabetic coma.

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But the Amerines… my husband’s defense is that this was how they supplemented their meals during the Depression.  And yes, my family has some legendary Great Depression Meals we cling to – just in case.  It’s important that our children’s children know how to feed a family of 13 with a sleeve of saltines and 5 hotdogs.  And one must #neverforget  that in a pinch you can make 4 eggs, 3 slices of stale bread and ½ a cup of milk feed 9 grown men; just call it egg gravy.

But, back to the stuffing.

I digress, my mother-in-law, may she Rest In Peace, stood firm in the belief that her cornbread stuffing was the tastiest of Thanksgiving delicacies.  It was, in fact, simple, albeit mystifying.  In a bathtub or 40×40 casserole dish greased with bacon fat, place 4 chopped onions, 12 stalks minced celery, 3 dozen hard boiled eggs – coarsely chopped, in the bottom of your vat.  Next, take 4 packages of STALE HOTDOG BUNS, crushed and spread atop the veggies and eggs.  Then, mix 3 packages of cornbread mix, according to the package directions and pour the mix over the other ingredients.  Finally, bake at 350 degrees until it is drier than sand.  Serve with giblet gravy, which also… has hard boiled eggs in it.

Yes… eggs in the stuffing and the gravy.

It is imperative that your giblet gravy is a beautiful gray color.  That’s how you know it is perfect.  Also, one time and one time only, someone tried to use hamburger buns instead of hotdog buns because none of the hot dog buns were stale… second, only to the time, Great Uncle Oswald choked to death on a giblet… that is one Thanksgiving we will #neverforget.

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These days all of my husband’s immediate family has passed on to the great feast in the sky, remarried for the 40th time or is busy making polyester curtains for their newest used-single-wide dream home on wheels, which they won at a horse traders auction for $19.62. #highlife

He has cousins we adore, but we refrain from celebrating the most gluttonous of holidays with them if for only one reason:

The stuffing.


I had forgotten the dressing drama.  In all honesty, I felt perhaps it had subsided.  My brother has been married for about 14 years now.  The stuffing angst is celebrated only every other year, as they rotate one year with her family and one year with us. But his dear wife Kelly brings “their” stuffing which is actually “her” stuffing because, while Michael is fully committed to Kelly, he prefers “our” stuffing because it is just better.

The Stuffing.

And really it is hard to argue with my Grandpa George’s recipe… it has a pound of butter in it.  It is just a better batch of filler.  Justin made the switch a long time ago.  It wasn’t hard. He didn’t understand why we weren’t boiling 24 dozen eggs the day before Thanksgiving, but we made up for it when we celebrate our Lord raised from the dead.  And we all respectfully taste Kelly’s dressing, which I think has oysters and green chilies in it, but it’s still “her’s” not “ours.”

Aside from the fact that she continually brings her stuffing to our feast, every other year, Kelly is all McKelvie. We rarely mention the time we were talking about “The Trilogy,” and she said, “which trilogy?” My husband gently escorted her outside to explain how there is also no discussion of Star Trek. We are a forgiving clan, you can make one Star Wars mistake per lifetime, just don’t let it happen again.

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But I am afraid the stuffing debacles are on the rise.

Pinterest is piquing curiosities.  There is talk of pecans and something about sage.  My oldest daughter just got married.  She will be joining his people for their celebration this year.  I have warned her: there is no telling what she might encounter, who would have ever thought there would be eggs and hotdog buns involved?  I can’t help her.  There is no way to know what one man fancies as “his” stuffing.  She asked me, “should I offer to bring ‘our’ stuffing to their dinner?”

So young, so innocent.

No little lamb, for now, let us save you a bowl of our stuffing for when you return.  Don’t make eye contact with them, don’t ask questions.  If it has rainbow sprinkles and marshmallows in it, it somehow defines them.  You don’t question how it came into existence lest you have to listen to a great-great aunt whose dentures don’t fit tell how it was the first dressing recipe recovered from the Mayflower. This particular recipe was supposed to have grapes in it, but they shriveled up on the voyage and his family somehow invented raisins by accident.

It is merely a side dish, but it is the side dish.  This is the stuff that defines the rest of the stuff.  It is the definition of the family – the lineage – the history.  It is theirs, his, ours and none other.  Taste and see, knowing ours is better.

Take this wisdom to their table sweet Maggie: there is always room for one more stick of butter and may the force be with you. #neverforget

May your floors be sticky and yourThanksgiving grand!  Love, Jami

 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.  2 Corinthians 4:15

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