Giving thanks for Grandma Eleanor’s cranberry relish, Mom’s linen napkin and Ben’s fingers

I have a love-hate relationship with Thanksgiving.

Let me start again.  

I used to love Thanksgiving. And then, in 1998, Mom died on November 27. The day after Thanksgiving. After that, I hated Thanksgiving. That’s a strong word, I realize. I just couldn’t get into the spirit–for obvious reasons. 

It wasn’t until I met my husband and experienced his huge, extended family Thanksgiving meals that I began to love it again.  Somewhere around 20- and sometimes close to 40- members of the family gather at one of the cousins homes. Food assignments are doled out weeks in advance after the Thanksgiving “meeting” takes place-a secret conclave conducted by the first generation female cousins (there are 3). Once they have selected their dishes, the second generation cousins, of which I am one, are given theirs. The third generation of cousins-while too young for a dish responsibility-simply look forward to being together. 

Before meeting my husband, I was always responsible for the cranberry relish. The recipe I used was the one made “famous” by Grandma Eleanor, my aunt’s mother-in-law.  Once married,  I became responsible for the sweet potato casserole. We didn’t grow up eating sweet potato casserole or if we did, it wasn’t a lasting memory for me. I did the best I could for several years but in all honesty, I didn’t stick to tradition the last several years and brought renditions of my own sweet potato recipes.

Perhaps the fact that I couldn’t follow directions was the reason for my new assignment this year. 

Yep. Cranberry Relish.     

Grandma Eleanor's Cranberry Relish
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1, 12 oz pkg cranberries
1 apple, peeled and cut into chunks ( I like to use Gala)
1/2 cup water
1 large can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup sugar (sugar can be reduced to 3/4 cup depending on desired sweetness)
Wash off cranberries first and discard soft or bad ones.
In a medium saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir and cook until sugar dissolves.
Turn heat down to medium or medium high and add apple & cranberries.
Cranberries will begin to pop-cook mixture until soft but not mushy. Stir.
Remove from heat and add crushed pineapple with juice.
Stir and chill.
Freezes well. Best served at room temperature.
This month’s Recipe Redux was, in a nutshell, to blog about for what we’re most thankful. It’s simple, really.

For me, it’s for remembering the ones we miss most through the things that weave us together-generation through generation. The picture above says it all.  Grandma Eleanor’s cranberry relish recipe. Mom’s linen napkin. Ben’s fingers.  

What’s not pictured are the memories we’ll make this Thanksgiving as the cousins gather around the table to enjoy the beautiful dinner we all created for each other. I can’t wait until Thursday. 

May you each find thanks in the small things in life. Happy Thanksgiving. 



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