Mom's Thanksgiving Rolls

Thanksgiving brings back many memories over the years, with the smells of all the delicious foods topping the list. My Mom when she was alive was very well known for her homemade rolls made from scratch.

I can still see her in our small kitchen working the dough with her hands and old, wooden roller. The flour would be all over her hands and arms, and she would often hum an old hymn or Carter family country tune as she worked. Her rolls always came out the same—perfect. Golden brown on the top, large, rectangle-shaped, and moist and tender in the middle. The smell of the rolls right out of the oven permeated the entire house. Mouths watered as we begged to sample one roll before the Thanksgiving dinner. No, we had to wait.

Thanksgiving at our house involved our family of five kids, aunts and uncles and cousins, and when I was younger, grandparents. Sometimes those meals would be at Grandpa Clell and Grandma Marie’s place, with their stove stocked with wood. The heat from that old stove would make you sweat no matter the temperature outside.

Most of my memories, however, were Thanksgiving in the old, small green house. Turkey, ham, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, pumpkin, and pecan pies…all their scents woven together in a tapestry of delight. Dad would always be first in line for the food, even if we announced ladies first. It was tradition. The women ate around our small kitchen table, while the men and kids ate wherever we could find a place in the living room with the football game on. I usually pulled up some carpet close to the TV.

As good as the meal and dessert was, however, my favorite part of Thanksgiving was going back later, grabbing one of Mom’s rolls, bathing it in butter, and heating it up with a layer of ham on top. This to me was the ultimate joy of Thanksgiving, of course also being with family and relatives. But those late afternoon/evening snacks of Mom’s rolls with ham are forever etched in my memories.

I remember more than once the smile on Mom’s face as she watched us enjoying her rolls. It’s probably the same look Da Vinci or Michelangelo gave as they watched onlookers admire their work of art. Mom was an artist with her cooking. Whether it was her fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, her pies…all her talent seemed to culminate with her freshly baked rolls.

Now, over ten years after Mom left this world, the absence of those rolls each Thanksgiving leaves a fresh-baked hole in our hearts. But the memories and love remain. And the smell. Oh…the smell!

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