Several cultures include festivals in the Winter months, some to illuminate the darkness, some to celebrate the hope of a coming of new life. Many of us prepare a list of goals for the coming year, a list of resolutions for change and growth. For nearly 300 years, Americans have celebrated a family event called Thanksgiving.
The American version of Thanksgiving is unique because the celebration crosses all ethnic, religious and cultural groups as a family celebration. For many of us, it is a major family get-together, celebrating the creation of this country. Thanksgiving Day became a national holiday shortly after the greatest struggle America faced in the 1800s. Abraham Lincoln encouraged Americans to gather together to give thanks for the bounty of our freedoms.
In my family, my mother began her efforts days before the fourth Thursday of the month, making fudge, stuffing dates, decorating the house, ironing table cloths and napkins. We were (and still are) a large family. Until late in her life, my mother was the sole cook, hostess and bottle-washer. We young ones eventually stuffed the dates, mixed the fruit salad, prepared the stuffing (always made from scratch). But Mom was the only one of us who made the Parker House Rolls.
I have never been able to match her rolls, though I have mastered the stuffing and my basted turkeys are well-received. My husband is the king of the stuffed dates and one of my daughters-in-law has conquered the pumpkin pie.
Once again, this year, our celebrations will be much different because my husband and I are living far from our family. Chances are that we will share our Thanksgiving with friends but I wanted to share a Verrill/Rhys family traditional recipe that is always a big hit with adults and children alike.
This is also simple and great for children to participate in the preparations of this wonderful family event.
1 package (or more) of dates (pitted is easier but not necessary: the pits separate from the fruit without much effort)
Cream Cheese, Peanut Butter, Hazelnut Chocolate Butter and/or other favorite creamy spread (Cookie Butter Cream, anyone?)
Open each date and drop a ½ teaspoon or so (personal taste is the final determinant!) of any of the above spreads into the center of the date.
Arrange decoratively on a pretty plate and try to get them to the family before they disappear.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and best wishes for a joyful Christmas season too.
© 2014 Parts of this post were first published at ClassicandCozyBooks.blogspot.com
Photographs: © Leigh Verrill-Rhys