Western Ag Reporter

Editor’s Perspective: The Sights and Sounds of Thanksgiving


One of my favorite activities to do with my classes when I was an English teacher was something I liked to call “Let’s Get Sensory.” Every time I’d project that activity name on the board at the front of the classroom, everyone would jump up and yell “YES! We are so excited for this!”

Just kidding. I taught eighth graders, freshmen, and seniors, so it was generally met with groans and eye rolls so dramatic you could practically hear them. But, I loved doing it nonetheless. The objective is to utilize all five senses to describe things in your writing – more times than not, we use sight and sound. The other three senses are a little more challenging.

I particularly liked to do this activity around the holidays, because it gave the kids a chance to really think about the things that make those days special (whether big or small), and then we’d share them and learn more about each other.

I’ve been thinking about all of the wonderful memories I’ve made over the years with my grandmother on Thanksgiving – practically every year since I could remember, I’d spend the day before helping her prepare the turkey, make the stuffing, and make her always delicious crispy yeast rolls. Then, I’d get to spend the night with her and get her house ready for all of our family to gather on Thanksgiving day. Those are some of my favorite memories, and I’m going to help show you why.

Sound – “Whap, whap, whap” went the large, plastic bowls my grandma that held the dough we were kneading to make her crispy yeast rolls. With hands covered in Crisco, she showed me how to firmly knead the smooth dough rhythmically with a “whap, whap, whap” as the bowls would lift slightly when pulled the dough up and then would rap sharply against her tile counter tops when the dough was pressed down again.

Sight – When I was younger, there was a special stool grandma kept in her pantry just for me so that I would be tall enough to peep my little eyes over the counter and help her with the turkeys – diligently removing any pin feathers that may have been left behind. As the years progressed, I sought out the stool less and less as grandma and I found ourselves working shoulder to shoulder and eye to eye. Though I eventually grew several inches taller than my her, that same little girl still makes an appearance whenever we bake and cook together.

Touch and Taste – The morning of Thanksgiving, my grandma always made me my favorite breakfast. She’d pull out her cast iron skillet, seasoned with years and years of love and care, slap on a hefty dab of butter, and make the same crispy, thin “German pancakes” my great-grandma always made. I’d sprinkle a thick layer of sugar on top, and carefully roll the still-warm pancake into a swirled sugar log of sorts. Flecks of sugar would coat my fingers, leaving a sticky snack for later. I’d inhale each pancake in about three bites, each one exploding with a sweetness that lingered long after I was done eating.

Smell – My grandma would wake up in the wee-hours of the morning to put the turkeys in crockpots. Before long, a robust aroma would sneak its way into my nose while I was still sleeping in my grandma’s bed. Without fail, my eyes would flick open and recognize where this warmth in my chest was coming from. I’d climb out of bed and start singing “It’s beginning to smell a lot like THANKSGIVING!” and my grandma, from the kitchen, would always sing it back in return.

Grandma and I upheld that tradition every year until I started having babies of my own, and on the years when we are with my in-laws during the holidays, I reflect with so much gratitude on those years spent baking with her.

Happy Thanksgiving, and if you’re reading this Grandma Kay, I love you!

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