On Thanksgiving, there’s historically been an emphasis on the earliest days of the U.S., and a meal shared by European settlers and Native Americans. While that narrative and the way it’s presented has become more than a little problematic, I still embrace the idea that we ought to have at least one day a year when we retreat from the hectic pace of our lives and take stock of the many things for which we ought to be thankful.
My wife, Connie, and I often see both sides of the family on holidays. Our kids are older now (our sons are 24 and 22, and our daughter is 16), so it’s getting ever more complicated, as they have their own obligations, but we try to keep it all peaceful and calm. The holidays ought to be a source of joy but too often cause unnecessary stress, and so the older we get, the more we’re trying to seek the smoothest sailing.
Autumn is my favorite time of year, with the leaves falling and the chilly weather coming in. Of course, Thanksgiving traditions mostly involve food, and in our family, it’s no different. There’s always turkey, but what else goes along with the turkey tends to be different depending on which family we’re having dinner with. One constant, though, is probably the most important component of what constitutes a “holiday” meal. My maternal grandmother (my Nana), Alena Boudreau Pendolari, learned a recipe from her mother-in-law that came to be called “Italian stuffing” in our family. It can be stuffed into the bird or baked on its own, and is a quiche-like dish involving bread, spinach, and several types of cheese.
Nana passed that recipe down and it became a staple of all of our holiday meals. The big argument in my family is who makes it best. My stepfather makes it, as do my siblings’ wives, and amazingly it has passed across to my wife’s family. Her sisters make it for their holidays as well, and now my sister-in-law’s husband’s relatives also look forward to having it at the holidays. Everyone argues about who makes it best, but I’m confident that they just don’t want to admit that they know the truth, which is that—of course—my wife, Connie Golden, makes the best Italian stuffing in the family. It’s not even a contest.