Coming Home – A Harvest Party Guest Post

It’s hard to believe that next week will be the last of my Harvest Party post series, and I can think of no better way to wrap up this particular gathering of inspiration than with an inspiring guest post from Joan Hall. As she recounts her special Thanksgiving memories, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own and I’m sure you will be as well. Enjoy!

Coming Home

I love the Thanksgiving Holiday—decorations of cornucopias, pumpkins, acorns, and autumn leaves. I enjoy having family for dinner and family traditions. It is a time for special memories of past years. It’s a time of “coming home.”

One of my earliest memories of Thanksgiving was 1962. It was the first year in our new home. As a four-year-old child, I recall being excited because Christmas was just around the corner. Mom always said she wished she had time to sit and watch the Macy’s parade, but never found the time. She spent hours in the kitchen, roasting the turkey, making dressing, green beans, and pecan and pumpkin pies.

Another special time was in 1978. The day was warm and my father and brother spent some of the time building my brother’s new cabin. I helped mom with the meal and we took numerous walks to my brother’s house. Around this time a new item was added to our traditional menu—Watergate Salad. Later that evening, I flew to Los Angeles to visit friends. My Dad passed away a few months later, so I cherish the memories of this day.

In 1984, I was newly married. Uncertain about dividing time between families, I’m thankful my mother-in-law was gracious enough to serve their meal on Wednesday evening. This allowed John and me to spend all day Thursday at Mom’s house. By this time, we expected my brother to bake homemade bread each Thanksgiving. We also introduced John to what had been a long-standing Thanksgiving custom—walking to the top of the hill on our property.

The Hill in Autumn - courtesy Joan Hall

The Hill in Autumn – courtesy Joan Hall

In 1988, my brother, his wife, and two daughters moved away, but they were able to come home for Thanksgiving. We all had a special day together and everyone except Mom climbed the hill. Ironically, I asked Mom if I could help make the dressing, because I didn’t know how. I didn’t know this would be her last Thanksgiving.

The year 1993 was also special. We celebrated John’s release from the hospital for cancer treatments. My brother and his daughters visited. The weather was icy and cold—no climbing the hill that day. While John and my brother watched football games, my nieces and I gathered in the bedroom to watch movies. With Mom gone, it was up to me to cook the meal.

Times change. We don’t walk the hill very often these days. My nieces, now grown, have children of their own. My oldest niece, Jessica, lives nearby. She and her family always come for dinner and she insists on my making the Watergate Salad.

I still cook the majority of the meal, but I’ve never been able to make dressing like my Mom. I improvise with an easier way. I don’t spend hours roasting a turkey—we order a smoked one. Yet our meal would not be complete without my brother’s homemade bread and the Watergate Salad. As Jessica says, it’s like “coming home.”  

Watergate Salad

1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 pkg. pistachio instant pudding
1 cup miniature marshmallows

½ cup chopped pecans

1 8 oz. carton Cool Whip


Combine pineapple, pudding, marshmallows, and pecans. Stir in Cool Whip. Refrigerate a minimum of one hour.

Do you have special memories of Thanksgiving? Does your family have special traditions? Please share in the comments.

From her earliest recollection, Joan Hall has always enjoyed listening to a good story. Now she enjoys sharing stories about life and faith. Her desire is that her writing will cause people to reflect upon living a simple life, strong family bonds, and most important, faith in Christ. Connect with Joan on her blog at, on Facebook—, or on Twitter—@joanhallwrites.

Linking up with Desire to Inspire

7 thoughts on “Coming Home – A Harvest Party Guest Post

  1. My mom had a blueberry salad she made every Thanksgiving. She passed away Aug 2012. I need to ask my dad if he can find her recipe so I can start making the blueberry salad

  2. Oh my! Mom used to make Watergate Salad too – we loved it! Lots of memories tied to Thanksgiving recipes, pictures, and traditions. Love them all, and see the Lord’s blessing in all of them.

    • Joy:

      My niece always reminds me ahead of time to make the Watergate Salad. It’s her favorite.

      I love to reflect back on these memories ~ special times. And yes, they are a blessing from the Lord. Thank you for stopping by Angel’s blog today!
      Joan recently posted…Coming Home: A Harvest PartyMy Profile

  3. Hi Joan and Angel! I loved reading your remembrances of so many holidays spent together with your family. And it was like marching through the changes in the years too. From tramping up the hill, to well…maybe not this year.

    Do we ever think we can match up to Mom’s cooking? My mom died two years ago, and we all feel the loss of her cooking. But we carry on with the traditional foods. Not Watergate Salad, which I had never heard of before!, but with Waldorf Salad, homemade rolls…and those heavenly smells.

    We are blessed to have such lovely, warm memories!
    Thank you for your post today 🙂
    ceil recently posted…Psalms of the SoulMy Profile

    • Hi Ceil:

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I agree, we never quiet measure up to our Mom’s cooking. If your mother was like mine, she didn’t use a recipe, but “a pinch of this,” and “a dab of that.” But everything always came out tasting wonderful.

      Yes, to have our wonderful memories is indeed a blessing.
      Joan recently posted…Coming Home: A Harvest PartyMy Profile

  4. Thanks for sharing your wonderful Thanksgiving memories here, Joan. And, would you believe that Watergate Salad is something we used to have too? We haven’t in a while for some reason so I think this might be a good time to bring it back. Blessings!

    • Angel:

      Thank you for the opportunity to guest post for you. You and I share a love for the harvest season – my favorite time of the year.

      I wish you a joyful Thanksgiving, filled with the richness of His blessings!
      Joan recently posted…Coming Home: A Harvest PartyMy Profile

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