As we progress toward the end of fall, we are right on the heels of the Christmas season, and it seems that a significant holiday often gets overlooked—Thanksgiving. However, in the Magnolia State, giving thanks for all our many blessings is a special time of gathering with family and friends and usually sharing a smorgasbord of delicious delights.
If you are searching for the perfect Thanksgiving celebration for your Mississippi crew, there are three Fs that you should never forget. Mississippi Thanksgivings are mainly centered around—Family, Food, and Football. So, let us take a little stress off your plate and give you instructions for a perfect Mississippi Thanksgiving. However, remember, everything does not have to be perfect to be a fun and successful holiday. Remember to focus on what you are thankful for and enjoy time with your loved ones before the mad dash of the Christmas season begins.
Here are the three Fs to a Mississippi Thankgsving.
- Family and Friends – Take advantage of this time of year, and slow down and spend this wonderful season making memories that will be cherished forever.
- Food – In Mississippi, almost any holiday, party, gathering, or reason to get together is usually focused around food, and Thanksgiving is the granddaddy of all food buffet holidays. For a fabulous spread for Thanksgiving, there are a few “must haves” on the dinner table.
Turkey, whether basted and baked or deep fried or smoked, is the centerpiece of the dinner. Some people also include ham baked to perfection with a delectable glazing of brown sugar, Coca-Cola, pineapples, and cherries.
Homemade stuffing or “dressing,” as we call it in the South, is probably made differently through every family’s secret recipe. For our family, it always had a wonderful mixture of cornbread, onions, celery, and whatever seasonings and accents you prefer. Also, it should be moist, juicy, and delicious. If your family is like mine, your specialty will not be found in any recipe book. It is usually a special, secret recipe handed down throughout your family’s generations — usually with a small quantity of this or a dash of that. Even though there has never been a specific recipe that has been followed, my grandparents, mom, sisters, and the family never fail to make the most scrumptious dressing ever.
Casseroles of various sorts, including green beans, broccoli and cheese, squash, hashbrowns, and more than I could list here, are always a success. Sweet potato casserole is a Mississippi Thanksgiving staple. This is always a favorite whether you like it topped with pecans or lightly browned marshmallows like your mama used to make.
Remember your veggies for this special day. Vegetables, such as turnip greens, English peas, green beans, and cheesy potatoes, should always be included on your menu.
Cranberry sauce is a definite “must” for any Thanksgiving meal. At our house, we usually offer two choices: actual cranberries or the “never fail” cranberry sauce that maintains its can shape when it is plopped out on your dinnerware. Whether you like it sliced to the side of your dressing or drizzled over your turkey and dressing, it would not seem like Thanksgiving without it.
Desserts — Ah, the grand finale of this fabulous family feast. If you are stuffed — pun intended — from all that great food, you may have to wait a while before you hit the legendary dessert table. Pies are synonymous with Thanksgiving, and they do not technically have to be homemade, but they are so much better when they are. The piece de resistance of the dessert table is the pumpkin pie topped with lots of whipped cream. Sweet potato and pecan pies will also melt in your mouth.
As a child, I loved helping my mother make icebox lemon pies by crushing up the vanilla wafer crust, helping to mix the lemon delight, and assisting with that heavenly meringue on top. The Thanksgiving after we lost my mom was the first time I made the pies alone, but she must have been shining down on me and guiding my hands to create the best icebox lemon pie I’ve ever made. It came out perfectly. Since then, I have yet to make another icebox lemon pie nearly as good as that or the ones she helped me with. But I’ve got that “never give up” spirit, just like she did, and I keep trying to recreate a pie at least half as good as hers.
Looking to do something with younger children? To include the kids in the kitchen, make turkey-shaped sugar cookies with candy corn for the tail feathers or decorate cupcakes with chocolate icing and colored M&Ms. It is always fun to include the littles in the Thanksgiving preparations.
Speaking of presentations, presentation is always crucial to a festive affair. Break out the fine china and table setting and enjoy them instead of keeping them locked up in the cabinet. Decorate the table with small pumpkins, gourds, candles, hurricane lanterns, and fold-out turkeys. Let the kids and kids at heart gather some beautifully colored fall leaves to give a warm Autumn atmosphere as the family gathers around for the mighty feast.
And don’t forget about football. The gridiron is always a major part of almost any Mississippi Thanksgiving. Football is a significant part of any Thanksgiving weekend, whether you’re watching the pros, the Egg Bowl, or playing it in the yard with the family. It’s always wise to have a few appetizers or a grazing table, if you will, for the family and friends to munch on while they’re watching the big game or playing in a family championship of their own.
If you remember the three key points in the formula for a grand Mississippi Thanksgiving — family, friends, and food — your celebration will surely succeed. And definitely don’t forget to thank the Good Lord for all your many blessings because that’s what this holiday is really about. Let the people around you know how thankful you are for them, and say thanks for being together to celebrate another year together. Say the blessing, dig in, and enjoy your time together.
Have a Happy Mississippi Thanksgiving, y’all!