~My great-grandmother and her children...my maternal grandfather is on the far left~
I'm in the throes of Thanksgiving cooking and baking, cleaning and burning.
Yes, there has already been a cheesecake incident. It's still edible~if you're not real particular.
And in all the preparation, I pull out an old family cookbook, a little comb-bound compilation put together one year for a family reunion a couple of decades ago. My mother's father was one of eight children and the extended family would all gather periodically to hug necks and eat good food and congregate from the four corners of the country. One year, everyone threw their best recipes in the pile and one of great-aunts put it in the cogent form of a cookbook for all the progeny.
My great-grandmother was the matriarch of the crew. She lived to be just a few weeks shy of 100, serene and sweet with a little bit of sassy on the side. I adored going to visit her when we would head to Mississippi in the summers. Her house seemed ancient, with mysterious rooms our mother never allowed us to enter. There was already frosty ice cold Coca Cola in little green bottles just waiting for us in the kitchen. Everything was simple and neat as a pin. And my great-grandmother patted us and hugged us and chatted away in her soft warbling voice.
When I pulled out the family cookbook to get going early on my cheese potato casserole, I took a little time to peruse more of the pages. Maybe I had read this before, but it seemed new to me in the re-reading. It was a page near the front of the book, printed on the back of the lists of recipes. It says:
Rules For Happy Living
Count your blessings not your troubles.
Learn to live one day at a time.
Learn to say, "I Love You."
Be a giver, not a getter.
Seek for good in everyone and everything.
Pray every day.
Do at least one good deed every day.
Let nothing bother you.
Practice the "Do It Now" habit.
Fear no one or nothing.
Learn to laugh and to cry.
Practice the happiness habit.
Let go and let God take over.
My great-aunt Martha put this note beneath my great-grandmother's words:
This paper was found in a box of Mother's, carefully folded and put there with cards and other items she wanted to save. It was on stationery which did not appear to have aged. I feel like it was written within three or four years before her death. These were her words left by her for us to find...Words that she lived by.
My great-grandmother saw a lot in her almost-100 years. Love, prosperity, war, the Depression, joy, tragedy, happiness, sorrow, blessing, she quietly walked through it all with her God. And while my Thanksgiving table will have some dishes that come from the family cookbook, I think this 'recipe' of my great-grandmother's is the most nourishing dish of all.