Making the Pies

Making the Pies

A Story by Debbie Barry

A 12 year old girl makes the Thanksgiving pies for the first time.


Making the Pies


I had a vague idea about making pies, from reading about Ma’s delectable pastries in the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but my first actual attempt at making the pies for Thanksgiving had me pretty scared.  I looked at my list.  Nana wanted an apple pie; how hard could that be, as long as I made sure I had apples, cinnamon, and sugar in it?  Daddy wanted a mincemeat pie.  I had an idea that mince involved venison.  That didn’t sound right.

“Nana,” I said, looking up from my list, “what’s in mince pie?” 

I was sitting, cross=legged, on the living room floor, my back against the couch, just a couple of feet from the large, wood-framed chair, which was Nana’s special seat.  The large, color, console television was directly across from her, between the two front windows, so she could watch the yard, the road, and some of the railroad tracks and swamp, during the ads in her game shows and soap operas.

“Well, it’s got raisins, and citron, and other fruits,” she replied, turning her head so that her ice-blue eyes met my moss-green ones.  “It has spices, too, like cinnamon and cloves.”  A warm, affectionate smile was on her thin lips, framed by the soft lines and creases of age.  Her hair, freshly permed on Saturday, had softened slightly, into snowy, white curls, which left her high forehead bare, and didn’t dare touch her collar in the back.

“Oh,” I said, feeling somewhat overwhelmed, but grateful that I didn’t need to come up with any venison.  “Is it in the cookbook?”

“I think it must be,” she replied, “but you don’t want to go to all that work.”

“I don’t?” I asked, when she paused.  “I can’t get a frozen pie.  Not fer Thanksgiving!”

“No, of course not,” she said, sounding slightly impatient.  You’ll buy a jar of mince at the store.”

“Oh!” I exclaimed, pleased and relieved.  “Thanks, Nana!”

“You’re welcome, dear.”

I returned to my list.  I’d never heard of buying mince in the store, and images of chopping candied citron and raisins swelled in my imagination for a moment, until relief brushed them away.  I moved on.  Penny wanted a chocolate cream pie.  I was pretty sure I could do that with a box of chocolate pudding mix and a tub of Cool Whip.  That one would be easy.  Finally, there had to be a pumpkin pie.  I knew I would find that recipe right on the can of pumpkin, so I wasn’t too worried.  Quickly, I made a list of the ingredients I would need: apples, sugar, a jar of mince, a can of pumpkin, a box of chocolate pudding mix, a tub of Cool Whip, and lots of flour and butter to make the crusts.  We had cinnamon and nutmeg, but I would need pumpkin pie spice; I added it to the list, and then remembered the graham crackers for the chocolate pie’s crust.

“I’ll go call Percy,” I said, jumping up with my list.  I trotted into the adjoining kitchen, where the squat, black telephone sat, topped by its receiver, the numbers around its dial sharply white, atop one end of the massive, hardwood dresser that stood along one wall of the long, country kitchen.  I picked up the receiver, and carefully dialed the five-digit phone number from memory.

A couple of minutes later, I returned to the living room, carrying my dark blue, canvas tennis shoes. 

“Percy’s on th’ way,” I told Nana.

“Good!” she said.  She slipped her feet into the black, leather house-shoes that stood ready, and rose from her chair, with the help of her worn- wooden cane.  She went slowly down the hall, and then up the stairs.  Her bedroom was next to mine, on the second floor; Penny and our parents had rooms that opened off the living room.

Crunch, crunch. Beep, beeeep!

“Nana! Percy’s here!” I called up the stairs several minutes later, when I heard the taxi pull into the gravel driveway.

“Alright, Dear!” Nana called back, and I heard her slow, steady step on the carpeted stairs.  Moments later, she was in the hall.  She had exchanged her soft, pale blue, cotton housecoat for a vivacious, red dress, covered with black silhouettes of poppies, and there was red lipstick on her lips, as well as a dab rubbed in over each high cheekbone.  Her brown, leather purse hung from her arm by its two straps.

We went out the back door, off the kitchen, and into the driveway, where Percy waited for us in a large, dark brown sedan, which was part of his small fleet of taxis.  Nana got into the front passenger seat, and I climbed into the back.

“Afternoon,” Percy said, in his gruff, but friendly and respectful voice. 

“Price Chopper, Percy,” Nana responded, slightly imperious, despite her long friendship with the owner of the taxi company.

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, and shifted the idling car into reverse.

At Price Chopper, I got a large, wire-mesh shopping cart, and we were off.  The store was bustling with women and children, with few men, other than employees; everyone was anxiously shopping for Thanksgiving.  Mom had done the rest of the holiday shopping on Saturday, so all I needed to worry about was the ingredients.  The store’s front door opened into the produce aisle, so we looked for apples first.  The choices were few, and there weren’t many Granny Smiths left, but I managed to gather six large, shiny, green apples into a clear, plastic produce bag.

“Can we get some chestnuts?” I asked Nana, seeing a large bin of the plump, dark brown nuts at the end of the apple display.

“What for?” Nana asked.

“Jus’ta eat,” I said, imploringly, looking into her face.

“Well, I suppose so,” she relented, after staring at me long and hard.  “You know how to roast them?”

“Oh, yeah!” I confirmed.  “Thanks, Nana!” 

I scooped a double handful of my favorite holiday treat into another bag.

We went through the store, collecting the rest of the ingredients.  I got two extra tubs of Cool Whip to put on the pies �"Uncle Sam always joked that he liked, “a little pie with my cream,” but he really did bury his pie in the fluffy, white topping, and had taught me to do the same.  As we paused to get butter for the crusts, something caught my eye.

“Nana, can I get these, instead?” I asked, pointing to a display of pre-made pie crusts, next to the butter.

“Well, I suppose so,” she said again, but there was disapproval in her tone.

“Please?” I asked, recognizing that the spoken consent hadn’t been real.

Nana sighed, tapped her cane on the tiled floor, and stared at me.  Finally, she said, “I guess you’d better.”

“Thank you!”  I exclaimed.  I gave her a big hug, before putting four of the double-crust packages in the cart. 

We went on, getting the eggs, Cool Whip, and pudding mix.  Then we reached the baking aisle.  The shelves on one side were packed with cardboard boxes of raisins, golden raisins, and currants.  There were stacks of small, plastic tubs of diced citron, crystalized pineapple, candied orange peel and lemon peel, diced and floured dates, candied red and green cherries, and crystalized ginger.  There were bags of whole and chopped walnuts and pecans, whole and slivered almonds, and plain and salted peanuts and cashews.  I so nothing called mince.

“Where’s the mince?” I asked, anxiously, trying not to whine.

“Hmph,” Nana replied, studying the shelves.  Then, in a startlingly loud, imperious voice, she asked, “Can anyone help me?”

Heads turned all up and down the aisle, as startled women looked up from their shopping.  Children, perched in the seats of carts, stared.  The hubbub of murmuring, muttering shoppers, rattling carts, and items being moved and shuffled paused in the surprise of the moment.

“Excuse me.  “’Scuse me, ma’am.  Sorry, ‘scuse me.”

A young man, wearing the uniform of a store stock clerk, came along the aisle, moving as quickly as the crowded space allowed.  Finally, he reached us, straightened the red, wedge cap over his curly, brown hair, and smiled politely at Nana, his small, trimmed moustache twitching slightly on his upper lip.  His sparkling eyes were deep brown, and my 12-year-old heart skipped a beat.

“Can I help y’, ma’am?” he asked.

“My granddaughter wants to make a mince pie,” Nana began, her tone polite, always accustomed to good service.  “Where is the mincemeat?”

“Oh, it’s right up here,” he replied, cheerfully taking a squarish jar of something brown from the top shelf.,  “Guess I better move ‘em up,” he added.  “Ev’rybody wants it.”

I took the jar he handed me, and set it carefully in the cart.  His name tag read, “Ken.”  I couldn’t help noticing it.

“Anything else I can helpya find?” he asked, grinning at me.

I pushed my long, dark hair back over my shoulder, and forced my staring eyes back to my list.  “Um, I need a can o’ punkin,” I said, self-consciously, “and whatever it says I need on the label.”

“Makin’ a punkin pie?” Ken asked, smilingly taking a can from another shelf, and placing it in our cart.  “Y’ need ‘vaporated milk,” he added, putting a small, blue can in the cart.  “Usin’ punkin pie spice, or didja need all the spices?”

“Punkin pie spice,” I replied.  He added a small, square, red tin to the cart.

“Anything else?” he asked.

“Jus’ graham crackers, I think.”

“Fer a crust?”

I nodded.

“Wanna get one a’ready made?” he asked, showing me the pre-made crusts, in their foil pie tins.

“Oh, cool!” I enthused, staring at his eyes, not at the pie crusts.  “Nana?  Can I?” I asked, without turning my head.

“I guess it would be easier,” Nana replied, sighing.

Ken grinned, and placed a package of two crusts in the cart.

“You ladies have a happy Thanksgiving,” he said, and then he melted back into the crowd, which suddenly seemed terribly close and stifling.

We checked out, and Nana paid with a check.  Then she gave me a dime for the pay phone, and I called the taxi number.  Mrs. Percy, Percy’s mother, said, “I’ll tell Junior,” and hung up, as soon as I told her who and where I was.

There was a concrete bench outside the doors, and Nana and I waited there for Percy’s taxi.  The bench belonged to the mini-bus shuttle company, so the driver stopped when he saw us there, but Nana waved him away.  Percy pulled up as the shuttle left.  Percy placed our two large, brown, paper shopping bags in the trunk, while Nana and I resumed our earlier seats in the car.

We were soon home, and I carried the bags in, one in each arm.  Nana went ahead of me, and opened the back door, which I shut behind me with a shove of my foot. I place the bags on the counter, between the large porcelain-coated steel sink and the four-burner gas stove.  I unpacked the groceries, and put everything away.  Then, I got out of the way, so Nana could make supper, before Mom and Daddy came home from work.

Wednesday morning, I bounced out of bed.  There was no school, and Penny was sleeping in, but I was excited to make my pies.  As soon as I had dressed, in years and a blue t-shirt, I ran, barefooted, down the carpeted stairs.  I was soon in the kitchen, where I started pulling out ingredients.  I took out everything I’d bought on Monday, as well as a half-gallon of milk and the spices I hadn’t needed to buy.  I pulled out Nana’s tin pie plates, a large, green, Corelle mixing bowl, a tin measuring cup, a wooden mixing spoon, a wire whisk, a hard rubber spatula, a teaspoon, and a tablespoon; I used a cereal spoon for the teaspoon, and a soup spoon for the tablespoon, because I’d never seen actual measuring spoons.

I stared at the ingredients, wondering where to begin.  The easiest pie would be the mince, since I just had to dump the filling into a pie crust, add a top crust, and bake it.  The apple pie needed the most work.  The pumpkin pie was a bit of a mystery, since my only experience of pumpkins, aside from pies my aunt made, was Halloween jack-o-lanterns.  The chocolate pie didn’t need to be baked at all.  I went into the pantry, searched the shelves beside the window, and emerged with a well-used copy of Fanny Farmer.  I sat down at the kitchen table, found the apple pie recipe in the index, and flipped to page 644.  Skipping the rest of the recipe, for the moment, I looked at the time and temperature.  I picked up the can of pumpkin, and looked at the recipe on the back of the label; I repeated the action with the jar of venison-free mincemeat.  The recipes were similar.  I decided to make the mince pie first, since it was the simplest, but to bake it at the same time I baked the apple pie.  Since the apple pie would take time to put together, and the pumpkin pie needed to bake for a total of an hour, I decided to start with the pumpkin.  I saved the chocolate pie for last, since it just needed to chill over night, and I could make it while the fruit pies were baking.

The next challenge, with that all-important decision made, was preheating the oven.  Because of the gas shortage, Mom had shut off the pilot lights to the range and oven when I was little, and they were never re-lit.  I’d been allowed to light matches since I was six or eight years old, so I could light the range for cooking, or could light a candle during the frequent, winter power outages, but I was afraid of lighting the oven.  It involved lighting one of the wooden, strike-anywhere matches on the wrought-iron match dispenser on the pantry door frame, next to the stove, opening the broiler under the oven, turning the gas on high, and then waving the match in the broiler, under the gas jets, until the match lit the gas.  It was almost instantaneous, once the match was near the gas jets, but it seemed to take forever.  I was terrified of being burned by what seemed, to my childish imagination, to be an explosive burst of flames.

I took a deep, steadying breath, and then went to get it over with.  I opened the broiler first, to save time once the match was burning.  I fished a match from the little tray at the bottom of the dispenser, and then drew the head of the match sharply down the rough, iron side of the dispenser.  This was the easy part.

Scri-i-itch, whoosh!

The match burned brightly, yellow and gold around a dark core at the match’s head.  The familiar, acrid tang of sulfur tickled my note.  Turning to the stove, I turned the oven dial quickly to 500, and then bent down.  The warning odor of liquid petroleum wafted from the broiler, as I thrust my right hand, clutching the burning, wooden match, under the gas jet.


The gas caught, the oven roared to life, and I hastily withdrew my hand.  My heart beat too fast for a few seconds, while I flipped the heavily metal door of the broiler up on its hinges.


I went to the sink, ran water over the hot match to cool it, and then threw it away.  I just remembered to go back and adjust the oven’s dial to 400.  The hard part was over.

Returning to the table, I settled in to work.  I unrolled the first circle of pie crust, and gently pressed it into the bottom on a pie tin.  There was a small tear, where the dough had stuck to itself, but I pressed the edges together, and it was fine.  When I opened the jar of mince, with a sharp pop! as the vacuum seal broke, a rich, sweet, heady aroma of dark fruits and exotic spices poured from the open jar, filling my nostrils with the smells of Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the deep romance of Olde England, and dreamy images of feasting in torch-lit stone halls.  My mouth watered, and I inhaled deeply, anticipating the rich, spicy pie I would enjoy the next day.  I used the rubber spatula to scrape the thick, dense, moist fruit mixture out of the jar, spreading it in the crust-lined pie tin; I was careful to get every possible drop from the jar, and happily licked the spatula when I was done.  Unrolling the second crust over the filling, I carefully crimped the edges of the two crusts, wrapping the edge of the top crust around the edge of the bottom crust, enclosing it; I fluted the thick crust edge between my fingertips.  Getting a fork from the top drawer of the kitchen dresser, I pricked an “M” into the middle of the crust.  I carried the pie over to the counter by the stove, and left it to wait there.  I threw away the empty jar, rinsed the spatula, collected a can opener from the drawer next to the sink, and returned to the table.

The pumpkin pie was next.  I opened the can of pumpkin, and a new, rich aroma of pureed squash layered itself over the lingering, fruity, spicy smell of the mince.  I scraped the orange mush into the green bowl, and then, following the recipe on the back, I poured in the entire can of evaporated milk.  I winced as I cracked the first egg on the edge of the bowl, but it cracked cleanly, and I added the contents to the bowl.  The second shell broke raggedly, and I held my breath, but no eggshell fell in.  I dropped the shells in the empty pumpkin can, and then noticed the three round, golden yolks, floating in the thick, white milk; the second egg had had a double yolk!  Smiling to myself, I measured the sugar in the tin cup, which had indentations to mark fractions of a cup.  I dumped it in.  I added up the measurements of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, rounded it up, and spooned two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice into the mix.  I used the wire whisk to beat the whole mess together.  I was surprised at how thin and pale the batter was, knowing how the filling would be when it was baked.  Setting the bowl aside, I lined another pie plate with an unrolled crust.  I poured the batter into the crust, until it was just below the top of the tin.  I frowned, looking at the bowl, which still held half of the batter.  I re-read the recipe.  Finally, I realized that the recipe was for a nine-inch pie, but I had eight-inch tins.  Glad I had bought extra crusts, I lined a second tin, and poured in the rest of the batter.  I didn’t think anyone would mind having two pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving.  I set the two tins on a large, low-lipped baking sheet from the pantry, and slid them into the oven together.  I set the timer for 15 minutes.

I quickly cleaned up from the pumpkin pies, and then returned to the table.  I settled down to the business of paring the apples, but I’d forgotten the paring knife.  I went to retrieve it from the drawer by the sink.  Ready now, I started paring the apples in long, slow, spirals, careful to skim off as thin a layer as I could manage.  The scent of fresh, tart apples joined the other sweet, spicy, fruity scents in the air.  The juice made my hands sticky, and a small trickle ran annoyingly down my left wrist to my elbow.  I had five of the apples pared, when the timer went off.


I jumped!  Fortunately, the knife only gouged the apple, not my finger.

I turned the oven dial down to 325, and reset the timer for 45 minutes.  I went back to paring my apples.

When the apples were all pared, I carefully quartered each one; singe we didn’t have a cutting board, I worked directly on the table, so I cut the apples, very carefully, in the palm of my hand, as Nana always taught me.  Then, I used the paring knife the cut the cores front the quartered apples.  Finally, I cut each quarter in half, and then in halves again.  I put all the apple slices into the green bowl, and then consulted Fanny Farmer.  The recipe called for “1/4 �" 1 cup sugar.”

“Huh,” I thought. 

I decided to go for the sweetest pie possible, remembering that Laura Ingalls Wilder had forgotten the sugar entirely when she made her first apple pie.  I wasn’t taking chances.  I measured the sugar, and poured it over the apples.  I added the cinnamon, and then the nutmeg; the fresh, slightly tangy, slightly spicy smell of the nutmeg was my favorite, even though everyone seemed to think cinnamon was the best spice.  I mixed the apples, sugar, and spices until the apples were all coated and brown.  I lined another tin with a pie crust, unrolling it carefully.  I dumped the coated apples into the crust, and used the wooden mixing spoon to scrape the last bits of sugar and spice into the pie.  IO pushed the slices around until they looked fairly even, and then I added the top crust, crimping and fluting the edges, as I’d done before.  I used the fork to prick an “A” in the middle of the crust.

“How’re you doing?” Nana asked, walking into the kitchen.

“I’m almos’ done, ‘cept t’ make th’ choc’late pie, an’ wait fer the oven,” I replied, proudly.

“Are you going to put egg wash on those crusts?” she asked.

“E-egg wash?” I stammered, confused.

“Mix an egg with a little milk, and brush it over the top crust,” Nana replied, a bit impatiently.

“I didn’ know about that,” I said, feeling deflated.

“You still have time enough,” she said, with a hint of consolation.

Quickly, I cracked a couple of eggs into a cereal bowl.  Feeling anxious, I dropped a bit of egg shell in the bowl; I used the larger part of the shell to fish it out.  I trickled in a few teaspoons worth of water from the tap, and whisked it together with a fork.  Nana found a basting brush in the drawer below the one where the paring knife was kept: the drawer where mysterious, less-used utensils lurked.  I rinsed it, just in case, and then painted half the egg mixture on the apple pie, and the other half on the mince pie.

“Thanks, Nana,” I said, when I was done.  She just smiled.

I still had a few minutes before the timer would go off.  I cleaned up all the mess from the apple pie, and washed my hands all the way to the elbows.  I put two trivets side-by-side on the far side of the table, just in time.


I was expecting it, but I still jumped.

I opened the oven, and a billow of spicy steam poured up into my face.  I pulled the pies from the oven, and stuck the tip of a dinner knife into the center of one, and then the other.  It came out clean both times; the pies were done!  I closed the oven, turned it back up to 425, and went to place the pies on the trivets.  I ended up needing a third trivet, because I had to use one for the baking sheet.  Then, I placed the apple pie and the mince pie on the baking sheet, and slid them into the oven.  I set the timer for ten minutes.

While the fruit pies baked, I got started on the chocolate pie.

“Whatch doin’” Penny asked, slouching into the kitchen, as I poured the chocolate pudding mix into the green bowl.

“Makin’ pie fer t’morrow,” I replied, brightly.

“Oh,” she grunted, walking past.  I heard the soft rattle of cold cereal being poured into a bowl.  Then I heard the sucking shu-thwap of the rubber seal on the refrigerator door.

“Where’s’a milk?” Penny asked, querulously.

“Over ‘ere,” I replied.

“Why’s it over ‘ere?” she grumbled, plopping down in the chair next to me, and clattering her bowl onto the table.

I set the carton back on the table, and dumped a measured cup of creamy, white, local milk into the bowl.  “Makin’ you a choc’late pie,” I replied, grinning.

“Yeah?” she asked, looking less surly and more interested, as she poured milk over the red, orange, and yellow, sugary fruit rings in her bowl.

“Yeah,” I confirmed, starting to whisk the contents of the bowl.

“Huh,” she said, evincing approval.  “Still need this?”  She gestured with the milk carton, still in her right hand.

“Uh uh,” I negated.

“’Kay,” she said.  She shuffled over to the fridge, put the milk away, and returned. 

While she munched her cereal and slurped the milk, I whisked the pudding for at least two full minutes.  I looked at her.  Penny was nine years old.  She was wearing pink pajamas, covered with blue and purple rabbits.  Her long, brown, intensely curly hair was still braided from the day before, the braids frizzy from being slept on.  Mom braided Penny’s hair into two braids each morning, one behind each ear, but Mom had left for work before Penny had got up.  It was a half day at work for both of our parents, because of the holiday; Mom would fix Penny’s hair after lunch.

I put the bowl of chocolate pudding into the freezer, hoping that would make it set up faster.  I put the Cool Whip back in the fridge, and cleaned up the rest of my mess; I left the package of graham cracker crusts and the rubber spatula on the table.  When I was done, I poured a bowl of fruit rings and milk for myself; suddenly, I was starving!


When the timer went off, I didn’t jump quite as badly as before.  I turned the oven dial down to 350, and reseat the time for another 40 minutes.  I returned to my cereal.

Penny left the kitchen.  I pulled out a book, and settled down to wait.  I felt like I shouldn’t leave the kitchen until the last pie was done.  Lost in my book, I quickly lost track of time.


All too soon, the timer jarred me out of the imaginary world the words of my book had spun for me.  I quickly set out two more trivets, and then went to the oven.  Once again, a billow of aromatic steam flowed over me, warming my skin, and leaving a sheen of moisture behind.  The combined apple and mince aromas were intoxicatingly delicious.  I pulled out the sheet pan, being careful of the scorchingly hot metal.  Carefully, I transferred the pies from the sheet pan to the trivets.

After washing the sheet pan, and adding it to the pile of clean dishes in the drainer, I went to check the pudding.  The green bowl was very cold to touch, as I carried it to the table.  The pudding was almost completely set, so I retrieved the Cool Whip from the fridge.  I used the rubber spatula to scoop all of the whipped topping out of the tub, and into the bowl, scraping the tub to get the last bits.  Then, I gently folded the whipped topping into the pudding.  The pudding was thick, because I only used half the normal amount of milk, but the combine mixture of chocolate and cream was light and fluffy.  When I was satisfied that it was thoroughly combined, I mounded the fluffy, creamy mixture into one of the two graham cracker crusts.  On a whip, I paused with half of the mixture in the crust, spread it out evenly, and then crumbled most of the second crust over the filling.  I spread the rest of the filling mixture over the generous layer of crumbs, and sprinkled more crumbs lightly over the top of the pie.  Pleased with the result, I put the pie in the fridge to chill until the next day.

I laid a bath towel over the four cooling pies, to keep the cat out of them.  I finished cleaning up my mess, and then left the kitchen.

Thanksgiving arrived.  Mom and Nana prepared a feast of roasted turkey, sage-bread dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, and Brussels sprouts.  Penny and I kept out of the way, but the aroma of roasting turkey made its way into the bedrooms.  By the time Uncle Sam and Aunt Edna arrived, with our cousins, Mandy and Sammy, my stomach was grumbling and growling.  I really wanted Thanksgiving dinner!  Despite that, I was anxious about my pies.  All through dinner, as much as I enjoyed the food, my mind was on dessert.

Finally, Mom and Aunt Edna cleared the table, moving the food to the counter, and the dirty dishes to the sink.  We all waited, expectantly, as they brought the pies and a pile of dessert plates to the table.  The apple pie and the mince pie had been warming in a barely-hot oven, and the spicy, fruity aromas filled the kitchen as soon as Mom opened the oven.  The pies were all perfectly browned.  Aunt Edna brought the fluffy, crumb-topped chocolate cream pie from the fridge, and set it in the center of the table, along with the other pies. 

We all watched, as Mom and Aunt Edna sliced each pie into eight nearly-identical wedges.  There were nine people, and eight slices of each flavor �" except the pumpkin, and I was happy I had made two pumpkin pies!

“Whaddya want, Brian?” Mom asked Daddy.

“Yes,” Daddy replied, grinning, with a mischievous glint in his sky-blue eyes.

“Brian,” Mom said, warningly.

“Oh, well, if I can just have one, it’d better be mince.”

Mom sighed at his humor, and served a slice of rich, moist, steaming mince pie onto a small plate.  The spicy, raisiny aroma wafted around the table.  I wasn’t too worried about the mince pie; I hadn’t really done much to make it.

Daddy took a bite of the warm pie, closed his eyes to savor the flavor, and then said, “It’ll do.”  He opened his eyes, and an approving smile wreathed his face.  I knew the mince pie was a success.

“Sam?” Mom asked, looking at my uncle.

“Punkin!” he said, emphatically, beaming contentedly.

Mom served him a slice of a beautifully browned-orange pumpkin pie.  Immediately, he scooped nearly half a tub of Cool Whip on top of the pie.

“I like a little pie with my cream!” he announced, as he did every holiday.  He took a bite of pie and whipped topping, then immediately took a second bite.

“Wonderful pie!” Uncle Sam declared.  My anxiety eased.  The pumpkin pie was a success.

“Mom?” Mom asked Nana.

“I’ll have some of the apple,” Nana replied.

Mom served the steaming slice of apple pie, and passed the plate across the table to Nana.

Nana took a bite of the pie.  She glanced at me.  My nerves quivered.

“A perfect apple pie,” Nana announced, with uncharacteristic generosity.

I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.  My heart rate slowed.  I grinned proudly.  My first time baking Thanksgiving pies was a very satisfying success.  But there was still one more pie.

“Choc’late!” Penny announced, before anyone asked. 

“Me, too!” Sammy chimed in.

Aunt Edna smiled patiently at them both, as she served up two slices of chocolate cream pie.  Penny and Sammy dug right in.

“Munbapul!” Penny said, around a mouthful of chocolate cream.

“Mm-hmm!” Sammy agreed with Penny’s compliment.  The chocolate pie was pronounced wonderful.

Soon, Mandy had a slice of pumpkin pie, I had a slice of mince, and Mom and Aunt Edna each had a slice of apple pie.  I bit into my pie, and savored the spices, surrounded by my loving family, well satisfied by a delicious holiday feast.  It was a sweet ending to a great Thanksgiving.

© 2017 Debbie Barry

Author's Note

Debbie Barry
Let me know if you catch typos; it helps me. Initial reactions and constructive criticism appreciated.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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As someone who loves cooking, baking especially, i love, love, LOVE this post, Debbie. I wondered if shopping for ingredients and preparing this/ that could be interesting enough to fill half a mile of typing but.. to my amazement it has, it does!

Your attention to detail is more than fine - not a typo or whatever has darted at me. Your dialogue is so natural, questions ad anssers coherently put, the wondering and decision-making right up to the final words make for a touch of an almost too easy description of 'buzzyness' prior to Thanksgiving (or any other precious event!).

Every word provides reasons and necessity for such a lot of effort .. it really IS all the giving and sharing that matters. Giving time to cooking is giving love. BTW Years ago i helped someone prepare recipes for cookery books: Felt even that had elements of love inside the actions. Now must be thought uniportant but.. .. Thank you for feeding my mind, Debbie!

Posted 6 Years Ago

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6 Years Ago

Was such a pleasure to read about all your 'endeavours' .. was smoothly laid and well worth a carefu.. read more
Debbie Barry

6 Years Ago

Thanks so much, Emma!


This story was very descriptive. So much detail. Enjoyed the story. Now I have a sweet tooth, thanks Debbie.

Posted 6 Years Ago

As someone who loves cooking, baking especially, i love, love, LOVE this post, Debbie. I wondered if shopping for ingredients and preparing this/ that could be interesting enough to fill half a mile of typing but.. to my amazement it has, it does!

Your attention to detail is more than fine - not a typo or whatever has darted at me. Your dialogue is so natural, questions ad anssers coherently put, the wondering and decision-making right up to the final words make for a touch of an almost too easy description of 'buzzyness' prior to Thanksgiving (or any other precious event!).

Every word provides reasons and necessity for such a lot of effort .. it really IS all the giving and sharing that matters. Giving time to cooking is giving love. BTW Years ago i helped someone prepare recipes for cookery books: Felt even that had elements of love inside the actions. Now must be thought uniportant but.. .. Thank you for feeding my mind, Debbie!

Posted 6 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This comment has been deleted by the poster.

6 Years Ago

Was such a pleasure to read about all your 'endeavours' .. was smoothly laid and well worth a carefu.. read more
Debbie Barry

6 Years Ago

Thanks so much, Emma!

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2 Reviews
Added on November 23, 2017
Last Updated on November 23, 2017
Tags: story, thanksgiving, pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie, mince pie, chocolate cream pie, family, tradition, coming of age


Debbie Barry
Debbie Barry

Clarkston, MI

I live with my husband in southeastern Michigan with our two cats, Mister and Goblin. We enjoy exploring history through French and Indian War re-enactment and through medieval re-enactment in the So.. more..


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