Take time to break the wishbone

Ahhh, Thanksgiving dinner. The pies for dessert were made yesterday, and have been safely hidden away from the forks of “early tasters.” The meal preps continue today — chopping up the onions and celery for the stuffing. Enough potatoes have been peeled to feed an army, to make sure that everyone will get their fill of mashed potatoes. The house smells delicious while dinner cooks for hours in the oven.

The family, dressed in their nicest clothing, is gathered around the table. Grudges are pushed aside for an hour, in order to not miss this delicious homemade food, served out of large decorative bowls set in the middle of the table.

Wait a minute! I think I just described ‘most every Sunday dinner in days gone by — 52 of them a year.

Sunday dinners were special and it took time — lots of it — to prepare the meal. No microwave ovens were around to heat up the vegetables. The homemade bread was made days before, and took hours to make.

The mashed potatoes did not come out of a box. They came out of some type of cold storage bin, with the dusty soil of the earth still on them.

People wore their “Sunday Best” clothing, which they had worn to church in the morning, for most of the day. The women wore aprons while cooking, to protect their nice clothes. After dinner, Sunday afternoon was spent visiting relatives, or sitting out on the porch, or napping on the couch — covered up with sections of the Sunday newspaper.

The only specific memory I have of Thanksgiving dinner actually happened after dinner. Mom would dig through the leftover turkey carcass, which was being saved to make a big pot of soup, and find the wishbone. She would wipe off any particles of meat, and hand it to me and my older brother.

Each of us would make a silent wish, kind of like you do before you blow out birthday candles. We would sit, elbows on the kitchen table, each determined to get the best grip on that wishbone. While staring each other down, we would pull, gently but firmly, with our thumb and forefinger, and try to break the wishbone. And when it finally broke in half, the one holding the larger piece would get their wish — maybe.

Cleaning up after dinner meant standing at the sink and washing the dishes, not popping plates in a dishwasher. One person washed and one, or two, people dried. It was a slow process, but lots of good conversation ensued while washing and drying the dinner dishes.

Life’s pace just seemed to be slower then. And with fewer places to go, people weren’t always in such a rush to get there.

Special family recipes, like for baked corn, were carefully hand-written on cards and filed away in a recipe box. Recipes were not pulled up on a computer screen and searched for on Google, with a resulting 44,600,000 results for “baked corn” in .57 seconds. The recipes were in the recipe box, and hopefully when you rooted through all the cards, you would locate the one you needed for dinner.

So many great time-savers have been invented in the past 50 years. Nowadays, everything is much bigger and better and faster.

And yet, so often I hear the words, “It seems like I don’t have time to do anything.”

So in the upcoming weeks, slow down your pace. Take time to visit a relative or friend, and hand-write down a family recipe for your children. Make a phone call instead of sending a text. Reflect, ponder, and give thanks for your many gifts — whatever they may be.

Take time to break the wishbone, and I hope all of your wishes come true.


Rose Hoover is a freelance writer for The Express. She can be reached at rosehovr@yahoo.com or 814-387-4016.