Like “T’was the Night Before Christmas” can be heard throughout this world on Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving Day is the annual retelling of my Thanksgiving Day story…
‘It tastes better hot” are good words to live by when dealing with foods that are prepared warm.
With some deep thought, I could probably come up with a few exceptions, but I feel comfortable in making this one of my rules to live by… (I should write down and publish this list.)
These words were first uttered to me by my mother. If forced to pin down a year, I would have to say 1977. My recollection of the day was that it was a Thanksgiving Day. The Detroit Lions were playing the Chicago Bears and, as usual, we were having a meal at my Grandmother’s house.
She had the incredible ability to prepare the largest of meals and get the whole thing ready as the final seconds of the second quarter were counting down.
The meal was the same every year…Turkey, stuffing, , hot rolls, mashed potatoes and a couple of her special recipes…
1. Green Beans with a Mushroom sauce
2. Sweet Potatoes with a Marshmallow topping
It is possible that she had everything timed perfectly because she prepared the same meal each year.
My disdain for both of the aforementioned (and pictured) dishes were not a secret to ANYONE…except for Grandma.
The smell of them turned my stomach.
The rule in our house was that you had to do two things.
1. Eat what is on your plate.
2. Eat some of everything.
When I saw the dishes of green beans and sweet potatoes in the kitchen, I began to cry.
My mother, in an attempt not to create a scene, whisked me away until the meal was ready. She gave me the most amazing pep-talk about even though I didn’t like it, if I ate it first and fast it would be better. As bad as it tasted, it would taste even worse when it was cold.
I had eaten this stuff cold before, and it was bad. This reasoning made perfect sense to me.
Well, being the youngest in the family at the time, my seat was positioned to the left of my Grandmother. She sat at the head of one end of the table and my Grandfather sat at the other end. This must have been the first year that I actually sat in a real chair because I remember sitting on top of a couple of phone books.
She served my plate first before passing each dish around to the right. Sure enough the first two things on my plate were the green beans and the sweet potatoes.
My eyes watered as everyone else was watching my grandfather cut the Ham and Turkey.
My mother looked at me and nodded.
I picked up my fork and tore through the beans first. They were steaming hot.
My mother smiled…no one else noticed.
Then I moved to the sweet potatoes and marshmallows…gone!
I did it! All of the bad stuff was gone and all I had to concentrate on was delicious turkey, ham, stuffing and hot rolls.
Then…all of the sudden, in the blink of an eye, my Grandmother looked down and saw that I had finished the beans and sweet potatoes.
The biggest smile crossed her face.
I remember that expression like no other I have seen since. But it was what she did next that changed my life forever. She said this…
“Ohhhhh! You ate them so fast, you must really like them. I knew you would…here is some more.”
No sooner did that scoop of sweet potatoes with overflowing marshmallows hit my plate before every bit of green beans, mushroom sauce, sweet potatoes AND marshmallows that I so quickly inhaled, came right back up out of my stomach.
It was a scene right out of Stand By Me…
Immediately after I “overflowed” my plate , my sister, who was sitting right across from me did the same thing. She had also heard the same pep-talk my mother had given me and was, evidently, shoveling in the things she didn’t like as fast as she could down her throat. I believe that the cause of her vomiting was a mere reaction to what I had just done, because she can actually eat both of those dishes today and I cannot even smell them without being forced to leave the room.
It isn’t like I vomit very often…probably less than 10 times in my whole life. That is what raises this situation to a point where it impacted my life so much.
To this day, my stomach churns at the sight or smell of either sweet potatoes or green beans with mushroom sauce. I can stomach the beans and the mushrooms separately…if forced to prove a point to the children.
To this day, those dishes are banned from the house. My wife and children enjoy pumpkin pie, but I tastefully decline and just leave the table.
But to this day, I tell my son and daughter that when they are eating something they don’t like that “…it tastes better hot than it does cold.”
I also always eat the things I don’t like first and save the best for last.
It is amazing how that one day changed me forever.