I’ve never met Plymouth, Massachusetts native Marjorie Cronin. I don’t even know if she’s still alive. But for the past several years, Mrs. Cronin and I have shared a Thanksgiving morning tradition. We both make her Cranberry Cornbread for breakfast on Thanksgiving Day.
I first encountered Marjorie Cronin’s story in an article by Joan Nathan in the New York Times Food Section, published on November 19, 2003, called “Practically a Pilgrim, Celebrating the Old Way.”
The story describes how Marjorie Cronin, who was born in Plymouth (home of “The First Thanksgiving”), has been a Thanksgiving enthusiast her entire life. She and her family participated in the annual Plymouth community celebrations, and in recent years, she and her sisters spent days preparing pies and side dishes in the kitchen of her converted 18th century tavern house located in Kingston, Massachusetts.
Mrs. Cronin’s traditional Thanksgiving breakfast consists of Cranberry Cornbread. She picks the cranberries by hand at the local Bog Hollow Farm, and cuts each berry in half before folding them into the sweet, rich batter of stone ground corn meal. The slicing of each lipstick-red cranberry becomes a thoughtful, rhythmic, meditative action.
For me, Cranberry Cornbread is at the center of my quiet time on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a moment to watch the autumn leaves blow across the deck, drink coffee, listen to music, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, count my blessings, and anticipate feasting with family in the afternoon.
Mrs. Cronin would be 79 this year, and I hope she’s celebrating with the same kind of joy and thanksgiving that she’s had for nearly eight decades. I’ll be thinking of her, as I slice my Cranberry Cornbread.
Happy Thanksgiving to All!
©2007 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved
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