Over the river and through the woods; Thanksgiving traditions

This week many people will hit the road to visit family and loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday. Then others, like me, will welcome them to their homes and celebrate together.

FORT WORTH, Tx. November 21, 2011 – This week many people will hit the road to visit family and loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday. Then others, like me, will welcome them to their homes and celebrate together.

That journey brings to mind an old Thanksgiving song:

Over the river, and through the wood,

To Grandfather’s house we go;

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh

through the white and drifted snow.

Grandfather’s house? Yes. That is the way writer/activist Lydia Maria Child wrote the poem that became the song we all know today.

The author's actual grandfather's house in Medford, Massachusetts

The author’s actual grandfather’s house in Medford, Massachusetts

It first appeared in Child’s book Flowers for Children, Volume 2, in 1844.

Titled A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day, in it she celebrates the happy childhood memories of visiting her grandfather’s house in Medford, Massachusetts. No one knows how the song became “grandmother’s house” but because of this traditional song grandfather’s house is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here is the poem in its entirety:

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,

To Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
For this is Thanksgiving Day

Over the river, and through the wood—Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
With a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
As we go jingling by

Over the river, and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood,
No matter for winds that blow,
Or if we get the sleigh upset
Into a bank of snow

Over the river, and through the wood,
To see little John and Ann.
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball,
And stay as long as we can.

Over the river, and through the woodsTrot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood—
And straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,
And thus the news he tells.

Over the river, and through the wood,
When Grandmother sees us come,She will say, “Oh, dear, the children are here,
Bring a pie for everyone.”

Over the river, and through the wood—
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

One usually hears only the first one or two stanzas of the song. All twelve of them describe the entire journey that brings to mind family heritage and customs. Remembering days gone by that make our hearts remember the love of those who’ve gone on before us and happy times.

Don’t forget the comfort foods that made their appearance at this time of year. Makes your mouth water just thinking about it.

We all have traditions that are dear to us, especially at holiday time. Many of them are age-old recipes handed down from generation to generation. I would like to share two traditional Thanksgiving recipes served at my family’s table every year.

The first is from my wonderful mother-in-law Hazel. We were buddies and she taught me a lot about Southern cooking. One of the dishes my husband grew up with is Cranberry Relish. There are many different recipes for this dish and I’m sure it’s served places besides the south. But this is the recipe she loved so much. It’s also the only way I’ll eat cranberries. Normally I won’t let them across my lips. And in this gelatin-salad they cross my lips a lot.

Cranberry Relish

1 package (3oz.) raspberry jello
1 cup miniature marshmallows (10 large)
½ cup granulated sugar
8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pecans (I toast mine in oven first then cool)
1 cup boiling water
1 package (12oz.) whole cranberries

Fresh cranberries make the best cranberry relish. (Wikimedia)

Fresh cranberries make the best cranberry relish. (Wikimedia)

Wash and sort cranberries. Chop with food processor or hand chopper until no whole berries remain(I like them chunky.) Dissolve raspberry jello in boiling water stirring for at least two minutes. Add sugar, pineapple w/juice, and orange juice. Stir.

Fold in cranberries, pecans and marshmallows. I put this in a pretty bowl and serve from it. You can also put into a gelatin mold. Either way cover and refrigerate. Unmold gelatin mold just before serving.

Cranberry Relish is best when made at least a day ahead.

Next is the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot. It’s the pie my mother Carol made every year. I’m not sure where she got the recipe, but knowing her it came out of a newspaper back in the 1950’s. There were lots of wonderful meals at my house from those newspapers.

Pumpkin Pie

1 ¾ cup cooked pumpkin (or 15oz. can)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (regular – not evaporated or sweetened condensed)
2 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar (I use light brown)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves

Yummy pumpkin pie. (courtesy: Photobucket/caritol0114)

Yummy pumpkin pie. (courtesy: Photobucket/caritol0114)

Make crust for one-crust pie (or use the readymade uncooked refrigerated or frozen pie crust – follow directions.) Mix all ingredients together. Pour into pie shell.

I use a 9” deep dish glass pie pan.

Bake in pre-heated oven @425 degrees for 45-55 minutes. Pie is ready when toothpick inserted comes out clean. Before baking put a bit of foil around edge of pie taking care to not bend the crust.

Remove 10-15 minutes before pie is done. This keeps the crust from becoming too brown.

Pumpkin pie is best when made at least a day ahead too. It gives all the flavors a chance to blend together. Store in refrigerator. Enjoy!

Try these recipes and let me know how they turned out.

May each and every one of my readers have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

****

Read more of Claire’s work at Feed The Mind, Nourish The Soul in the Communities at The Washington Times, her blog Sustenance For The Mind, and the writing group she belongs to at Greater Fort Worth Writers Group.

Join her on Facebook at facebook.com/Claire0803 and

Twitter http://twitter.com/Claire0803

 


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Claire Hickey

Claire has held a Texas Cosmetology License, Certification in Surgical Technology and has decorated cakes professionally. She believes that life is a banquet to be experienced and wants to learn and do as much as possible while she’s here. This Stay @ Home Mom has always loved to write and thanks to the Communities @ The Washington Times has got her chance. Her curiosity and writing lead her to create her column based on “garbage in garbage out” theory to provide interesting and thought provoking pieces that enrich her readers. A proud member and Treasurer for the Greater Fort Worth Writer’s Group she is currently working on her first novel.  

 

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