Thanksgiving Memories

My grandmothers and my mother were good cooks. Growing up, I thought that was the only kind of food there was… good food, from scratch! So, you can imagine our table at Thanksgiving. I was lucky enough to live with three of my four grandparents throughout my childhood. After my mom and dad were able to purchase a home in 1956, my dad built his parents an apartment in our basement. Big Mama and Big Dad moved in when he retired from working for the railroad in Macon. She would bake pound cakes (my dad's favorite cake!), big pots of turnip greens, and pans of cornbread to be ready for all of us when my mom came home from work to prepare the rest of our supper. My grandparents were there to welcome me home from school and Big Mama always had a snack for me (usually a piece of cake). My mom spent many years trying to bake a better cake than my Big Mama. I'm sorry to say, though, that just didn't happen!


There are two dishes that absolutely must be on my Thanksgiving table. The first is my mother's cornbread dressing and the second is my maternal grandmother, Mommee's, ambrosia. Ambrosia is sections of oranges, grapefruit, and pineapple that have been peeled, sectioned, and served in their own juices to make a delicious juicy fruit salad. It can be topped with chopped pecans, shredded coconut, and maraschino cherries. Some people add sliced bananas, but no bananas ever go in my ambrosia! Without them the leftovers last for at least a week in the refrigerator. I've been known to tuck them away in the back of the fridge for myself.


My memories of Big Mama's beautiful cakes (I wonder who taught me to bake?), mom's cornbread dressing, and Mommee sitting at the table peeling oranges and grapefruits for the ambrosia make me thankful for a "familyful" Thanksgiving. If I stop and think too much, though, I will shed tears for the ones who loved and adored me. I pray that I have loved my family as sweetly and as strongly as I was loved.


Our casserole orders and select dessert orders for pick-up on Tuesday, November 23 are open at Gabriel's. Please let us know how we can serve you and your family this Thanksgiving by visiting us at the shop, online at, or by calling us at 770-427-9007.




Johnnie Gabriel-McCann