We were sitting around the table in Grandmother Musser’s dining room. We had traveled to West Virginia for Thanksgiving, as we had many times before. It was the home place, the place the family gathered, the place where my in-laws had grown up. Since we didn’t want Grandmother to have to cook everything or work too hard to feed us all, we had brought food for the feast. It would not be fair to have her to do all the work, and this way everyone could contribute. That’s the way a good feast should go.
We had had a good breakfast. We had eaten and read a short devotion and prayed — something we always did at Grandmother’s table. There was enough room on the table to eat, but it was also covered with food for later — most importantly, it was the resting place for the pies. I know for a fact there was a pecan pie, because we had brought it. There was apple and pumpkin and perhaps even one or two more. Beautiful round pies were staring us in the face.
I’m not a glutton (or at least, I don’t think I am — but I could possibly be in denial), but even with having eaten some regular breakfast, there was something terribly appealing about those pies. It looked like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting that shouted, ‘This is a bountiful feast. These are picture perfect pans of delight.’
I said out loud to no one in particular, “You know, I would appreciate those pies a lot more now than later when I’m stuﬀed with turkey and dressing and potatoes.” It was an idea that ﬂoated out there like the aroma of all that was to follow. It was an idea that took hold. It was an idea that demanded action. It was an idea that seemed so obvious in the moment that you wondered why we’d not thought of it sooner.
So in short order we were cutting and serving slices of pie for breakfast. We showed some restraint and did not get out any ice cream, but hot coﬀee and pie are a combination that is hard to beat. Cold milk will do, if you’re not a coﬀee drinker. Yes, they were all delicious. Yes, we talked about recipes and techniques and crusts. Yes, they went down well on a less that stuﬀed stomach. We were thankful for our alteration to the menu plan.
We have had ‘Pie for Breakfast’ on Thanksgiving ever since. We have traveled to North Carolina to my in-laws since Grandmother Musser passed, but we still had pie. We will be hosting the family for Thanksgiving this year since we are in a new house and location, but we will still have pie. This year it might only be our immediate family gathering for Thanksgiving breakfast, but be assured we will have pie. It’s a tradition, after all. We don’t even remember what year we started this, but it keeps on going. It seems now like we’ve always had ‘Pie for Breakfast.’ One morning it seemed like a good thing to do — now it seems like the one thing that we must do! That’s the way traditions get started, and that’s the way they keep getting handed down. This one is a good tradition.
The pies will be as delicious as ever, and I look forward with eager anticipation to this year’s oﬀerings. Yes, the pies will be sweet and tasty; but the memories of family and time spent together will be sweeter still. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to remember and reﬂect on all the good people and experiences that life has sent my way. I am grateful for all those trips to West Virginia, where the house was cold but the fellowship was warm. I am grateful for all those meals shared with members of the extended family. I am grateful for folks popping in at all times during the day to visit. I am grateful for days when it was warm enough to eat outside and days when there was snow coming down. I am grateful that Thanksgiving comes around every year and calls us to gather around the table and participate in this sacramental sort of meal.
We are shaped by the foods we eat. (Indeed, if I were to have ‘Pie for Breakfast’ every morning my shape would start to resemble a pie plate.) We are also shaped by the family and friendships we keep. Where we gather on Thanksgiving is important, whether it’s ‘over the river and through the woods’ or in a friend’s apartment or in the company mess hall far from home. Who we gather with is also important, whether it’s immediate family, extended family, a group of homeless folk, our sisters and brothers in arms, or perfect strangers. What traditions we pass along are important because they will feed our souls and spirits long after the meal has worn oﬀ. We will carry what happens on this Thanksgiving through the year ahead and maybe even beyond that.
I am thankful for those of you who have read this blog this year. I am thankful for dear friends around the globe. I am thankful that there are people who care about me and take the time to express it. I am thankful for a fresh start in a new location. I am thankful for the millions of little graces that all too often escape my attention. I am thankful for all the graces that I notice. I am thankful for traditions that shape my awareness and aﬀections in this life. And I am thankful, very thankful, for ‘Pie for Breakfast.’