From the Desk of Laura Bunker:
Golden-brown turkey, soft buttery rolls, spicy pumpkin pies. . . what are your family’s favorite Thanksgiving traditions?
Family traditions are more than just familiar routines. They are powerful sources of strength to families. Research shows that traditions give structure and rhythm to family life, and bring predictability, cohesion, and comfort. They also create a sense of family identity — “this is who we are as a group.” Even simple traditions such as lighting a candle can bring peace and stability during times of stress and transition.
This Thanksgiving, as the smell of turkey fills your home, please remember you are making much more than a dinner. You are making a family!
In today’s special UFI alert, Shelle Soelberg illustrates the power of family traditions. She has also included a wonderful sweet surprise, as our gift of thanks to you.
Happy Thanksgiving from our families to yours!
President, United Families International
The Pies that Bind
By Shelle Soelberg
As one of six children in our home, all born within 10 years, we had many happy Thanksgiving traditions. One of our most luscious was that of the Thanksgiving pies. My mom had learned from her mom the art of pie making. The crust was perfect. Her recipe was so simple it was scoffed at, until it was tasted! Cutting in the shortening was important, handling it too much wasn’t. I remember watching carefully as she used the knuckles of her second and third fingers to flute the edges into a perfect scallop.
We would stand around and wait for the scraps as Mom re-rolled them and cut them with a pretty pinking roller into diamond shaped tarts. They baked for just a few minutes and then we would top them with jelly or a little left over pie filling, if we were lucky! The fillings were to die for: Lemon, French Chocolate, Pecan, and, of course, Pumpkin graced our Thanksgiving table. I saw the love and care she put into those pies and couldn’t wait to do the same for my own family some day.
Thanksgiving is truly a time for tradition and togetherness. As circumstances dictate, some holidays must be spent apart. It is then that our memories, and the strength of tradition itself, bind us together.
About 12 years ago, Mom and Dad were out of the country and wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving. Without Mom and Dad, and scattered among four states, we children wouldn’t be getting together. We would spend Thanksgiving with our young families and do our best to bring a taste of tradition and togetherness to our Thanksgiving tables. Loneliness and a bit of homesickness laced our thoughts of Thanksgiving without family and without Mom. For most of us, it would be the first time to prepare Thanksgiving dinner on our own.
Novice cooks, eager to please our families and fill the void of being alone, we turned to our memories and our scrawled recipes. As each young mother realized she didn’t have all the recipes, we scrambled to each other…. Who had the crust recipe? Who had the lemon? Did it have to be fresh lemon juice, or could it be bottled? Who has made the French chocolate and had it turn out? How long did it have to chill? Did it matter what brand of chocolate chips are used? Does the pecan pie really bake for a whole hour? As we explained and exchanged, remembered and reveled, miles melted away and we felt drawn together.
And in the happy epilogue after the final leftovers were gone, we laughed about our successes and failures, and realized that even though we had been apart, tradition had filled the void, spanned the miles, and bound us together.
Granny’s Lemon Custard Pie
1 ¼ c. sugar
1/3 c. corn starch
1 ½ c. cold water
1/3 c. lemon juice
1 T. grated lemon rind
¼ c. margarine
¼ t. salt
Mix sugar and corn starch in bottom of a medium sauce pan. Add water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down. Put eggs into blender and blend. Put about 1 c. of the hot mixture into the blender with the eggs and blend. Add this back to the sauce pan, turn heat back up and cook about one minute.
Add lemon juice, rind, margarine and salt. Stir till blended and pour into cooked pie shell. Chill several hours before serving.
Shelle Soelberg is the daughter-in-law of past UFI President Carol Soelberg. Shelle lives in Mesa, AZ with her husband, Dave, and five children, ages 10-19. She graduated from BYU in Music Education and created the Let’s Play Music curriculum, which she and her husband now operate as the family business.