I love all the cold weather holidays. For me they're always very family-oriented. Both of my parents came from very large families, my mother has 8 siblings and my father has 6. This meant celebrations like Thanksgiving were always big events. Every year my family would actually attend 3 separate parties, one for my mom's family, one for my dad's family, and one with friends.
One of the things I looked forward to every year was going to the party on my dad's side of the family. My grandmother made the best stuffing and she would only make it on Thanksgiving. It went perfect with the turkey and the mashed potatoes and gravy. It was bread-y and herb-y and just delicious and her own secret recipe.
One year, my dad's family decided to do a non-traditional Thanksgiving and ditched the turkey and cranberry sauce and all the fixings... including my beloved stuffing. My grandmother knew how much I loved it so the next week she invited me over and made it for me.
I never asked her for the stuffing recipe nor did I ever ask her to teach me how to make it because like many great cooks (and she definitely was a great cook) it was all up in her head without exact measurements... she just knows how much of each ingredient goes into each dish.
It was common knowledge in our family to never give our grandmother a cookbook and never ask her for a recipe. Giving her a cookbook was the ultimate offense--basically, to her, it meant that we thought she wasn't a good enough cook and needed guidance. The recipes, on the other hand, without knowing the exact measurements came out like: "Mix some water with a lot of flour and a little salt and herbs and bake until done."
Fast forward to maybe my Junior year of College. It was November and Kevin and I were either attending a Thanksgiving party on campus or throwing one of our own... but, we both were cooking some food. He decided on stuffing and I told him about my grandmother's delicious version and how I needed to have it every year. He told me he was going to make it from a box and that he thought I would enjoy the boxed brand as well. I doubted it.
So, we make our food and have our party and I take a scoop of stuffing onto my plate. It had a similar look and consistency to my grandmother's with all the crumbly bread bits and herbs. I took a bite and pleased said, "This tastes like my grandmother's stuffing!" Kevin laughed and I continued eating.
A few days later, I was at my dad's party and there on the table was my beloved food. I looked at it closely and it actually looked exactly like the version Kevin made. "Weird" I thought to myself.
I tasted it... and it tasted like it always did and it also tasted like Kevin's. Flustered, I made my way into the kitchen, marched over to my grandmother and confronted her, "How do you make your stuffing?"
She looked at me and said, "I thought you knew... I always made it from the box." And she pointed to the stove and sitting there was the same box of stuffing Kevin had introduced me to.
She shrugged and added, "All I have to do is add water."
Happy Thanksgiving! =)