With all the traditions, travel, and food preparation that occur around Thanksgiving Day, much attention is given to make sure our celebrations go well. We want the experience to bring families and friends closer together, and it may be that the smallest gestures of our time and thoughts will be most productive in forming our desired bonds with one another.
Adena Duffy, a contributing author to Seeing the Everyday Issue 23, shares the influence of a simple Thanksgiving Day ritual her mother started. With all the smells, foods, wonders, and comforts of Thanksgiving Day, the simple tradition of miniature pies stands apart in her mind as a tradition that bound her and her sisters to their mother.
“At some point in my youth Mother decided that even on this notable day she would create a space and ritual to unite with each of her daughters by helping us to make our own individual pie. To look back at this now, as an adult, I find it intriguing and very inspiring. Thanksgiving Day in the kitchen is not necessarily one that holds any extra time or counter space and with a large family—the idea of taking time with each child to make their own individual pie was no small feat.
“Mom would save the tiny pie tins that came from frozen potpies (a rare treat in and of themselves) so that we would have the perfect size to make this little dessert. Helping in the kitchen, I felt so big and important. I remember putting on my apron, trying to look just like Mom. I remember the weight of her hands on top of mine as we rolled the dough into a circle, and her fingers as they carefully transferred the dough and helped fix the cracks when I pulled too hard or too fast.
“Deciding which pie to make was difficult, but as I promised to trade bites and slices with my sisters and their pies, I was assured a little taste of everything. I sat in front of the oven door with the mitts on my hands, feeling anxious as I watched it bake, hoping it would turn out alright—all the while having the mouthwatering smell of pie wafting through the kitchen.
“As I reflect back, I am sure the dinner was delicious—somehow that memory is a little unclear—but I do remember how it felt to enjoy the prize of our labors. I felt like a queen as I got to cut and serve my own tiny pie and share it with my sisters, who felt equally pleased with their own creations. Dad was the best to share with as he pronounced each one a success and the most delicious of its kind.
“I love the smell of fall. The smell brings memories of working together, laughing, and creating interactions that have shaped my life as an adult. I have carried on this practice in my own home— even the making of tiny pies with my children. Could mother have known how her selfless actions—in making time and space for each of us, even on a bustling Thanksgiving morning—would build our souls and bind us to her? This bounteous gift of giving oneself is annually relived as we make these tiny, thoughtful pies.”
We see from Adena’s thoughts and from many other experiences shared in issue no. 23 how intentional traditions have connected parents and children to one another. Participating side by side, knowing the outcome and purpose of our labors are for the good of the whole, can allow honest investment through conversation with the one right next to us.