In the big family Thanksgiving celebration, we all have our individual roles that fit together to produce a meal for 50 people. My role is the pie maker.
My grandmother made the best pumpkin pies ever. They were perfect in every way. Beautiful appearance, smooth texture, golden crust and fabulous taste. Her pies were always my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. She never measured an ingredient and never looked at a recipe.
Unfortunately, Alzheimer's took its ugly toll on her, and the precious pie resource in our family is lost forever. (No, not just the pies. I miss many, many things about my grandmother even though she is still right there.)
A few years ago, my second cousin once removed took over the family meals and pies. She did not have the exact family recipe, but she had watched my grandmother's sister make her pumpkin pies and written down her interpretation of the instructions.
The results were astounding similar to my grandmother's! The taste was slightly more spicy and the presentation slightly less perfect, but wonderful nonetheless.
Now the instructions are in my possession. I have put my own little spin on things, but I felt my pie was good enough to submit to my in-laws.
Sure enough, they loved it. I became the pie maker, and every year since the pies have been solely my responsibility.
My pies are not quite as beautiful as my grandmother's. Mine always turn out a little darker or a little less smooth on top. I have gotten the taste of her pies back (or come extremely close) by playing with the spices.
Each year when I start processing these pies I feel close to my grandmother. I'll never be the pie maker she was, but I'm honored to try.