We had a houseful of people for Thanksgiving again this year. That part was normal, but most of the rest wasn’t. The first abnormal thing was that our nephew Ian came from Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with us. I’m can’t remember the last time we celebrated this holiday with him.

Next, we set the table with paper plates—they were special Thanksgiving plates, but they were paper! Our china is already packed and ready to move, thus the paper. We even used paper napkins since our cloth ones are in between our china plates in the middle of a stack of boxes.

Next, I only cooked the turkey, made the gravy and baked three pies. All the rest Kim Matthews and her family brought with them. I didn’t even do clean-up this year. Everyone chipped in while I sat in the recliner.

Some things remained the same. Each year we put three kernels of dried corn on each plate. We then pass around a bowl three times, each time it passes you, you must drop in a kernel and then mention one thing for which you are thankful. We do this because at the first thanksgiving the Pilgrims placed seven kernels on each plate to remind them of the sparse rations they had at times before that first celebration of thanks. Looking around the table at these dear friends we’ve celebrated holidays with for most of our married life, it was hard to hold back tears, realizing that this was probably the last time we would be able to enjoy our holidays together. The first holiday we were together, Kevin and Kim did not even have children. Now they have two grandchildren and another about to show her cute little face to the world.

Another thing that remained the same was peanut butter pie. I think Molly, the Matthews third child, makes a point to come for Thanksgiving just for that pie! Again it got rave reviews, just as it always does. I remember the first time I made it for a church event. Someone asked me for the recipe, but when I told her how to make it, she didn’t believe me. It is made with instant pudding but the person requesting the recipe informed me she didn’t like instant pudding so it couldn’t have been made with it.

The first time I ever had that pie was in Arthur, Illinois at an Amish restaurant. I went back a few weeks later to get a whole pie and was informed they didn’t have any. The clerk, however, said, “I’ll go make you one” and disappeared into the kitchen before I could tell her I couldn’t wait while she cooked one for me. Minutes later she reappeared with a peanut butter pie in her hand. I couldn’t believe that it only took minutes to make so I asked her how she did it and she gave me this recipe.

Peanut Butter Pie: Mix one box of instant vanilla pudding with one cup half and half and three-fourths cup whipping cream with a mixer. When it is thick, add about a cup and a half of Cool Whip. Mix it by hand until it is well blended. Meanwhile, mix one third cup peanut butter with enough powdered sugar to make it crumbly, about the texture of oatmeal. Sprinkle half of the peanut butter crumbs on the bottom of a baked pie crust. Cover the crumbs with the vanilla pudding and top it off with the rest of the peanut butter crumbs. Enjoy! (I even use sugar-free pudding and people still love it! I’ve also used chocolate pudding, but vanilla is best. You can also make coconut pie this way by replacing the crumbs with toasted coconut.)

Normal is good. So is abnormal as long as it includes good friends and lots of thankfulness.

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