THANKSGIVING SUNDAY, A reflection on this traditional American feast.
I grew up the descendant of pilgrims where Thanksgiving always included the story of Native Americans who taught us newcomers wearing impractical hats to grow corn, thereby saving us from starvation.
At the harvest, they broke bread together and gave thanks.
Whether this story is historical or mythical, at heart, it’s a story about self-reliance and the generosity of neighbors.
My family’s tradition always included turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, sauerkraut, cranberries and a choice of apple or pumpkin pie for dessert.
All of the guests and all of the food would be laid out on the table and then we would bow our heads.
My father said grace and asked us all to silently consider our blessings.
This year, I am especially grateful for the people in our community.
We aren’t perfect and never will be, but here are two things that I love the most.
For one, people out here in the rain shadow generally take an active pride in their self-reliance.
We fish, hunt, farm and bake bread. We use chain saws and post hole diggers.
There are a lot of people who are ready and able to roll up their sleeves when a job needs to be done, not because it’s trendy; it’s just who we are.
The other thing that inspires me about our community is the tremendous generosity between neighbors.
Just today, I heard a story about a single grandmother with arthritic hands raising a 17-year-old foster kid with a history of prenatal meth use.
“He gets upset sometimes and I can’t always get him to calm down. So I go into my bedroom and I lock the door,” said this curly haired 5-foot-1 grandma wearing a red-and-green Christmas cat sweatshirt.
“In the bedroom, I call my neighbor and he comes right over.”
The neighbor, who happened to be standing there, continued the story: “He’s a great kid. But his brain is like a filing cabinet where all the file folders are out of place. When he gets too much going on in his head, I just help him get his file folders back in order.”
Neighbors helping neighbors.
I hear these stories all the time around here, especially when it comes to helping children.
I am in awe of the generosity in this community.
The recipe that follows is my mother’s mother’s Thanksgiving stuffing recipe.
It is an easy and reliably delicious recipe.
My mother’s family came from Baltimore, where her parents struggled through the depression years, couch surfing when money was scarce and my mother was one of the most kind and neighborly people I have ever met.
This stuffing is comfort food: buttery, moist and savory.
Hopefully, it will make you feel right at home.
Betsy Wharton is a Port Angeles Farmers Market vendor, Washington State University Extension food preservation information assistant and a registered nurse at First Step Family Support Center. More about her pickling enterprise can be found at www.Clallam CanningCompany.com.