My Dad’s Thanksgiving Sandwich


Post by community member:

I started out to write a post about all my favorite pumpkin recipes (which would be almost any recipe which contains pumpkin). But I deleted it all. On purpose. The truth is, it’s not really what my food thoughts are focused on. I’m thinking about Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was my father’s absolute favorite holiday. To him, it was a holiday which was truly based on enjoying time with family and friends, and being surrounded by great food. But I think his real favorite part of Thanksgiving was actually the day after. Many of you may be thinking of Black Friday, but I’m talking about a leftover sandwich of epic proportions. A few years ago, I won a bet to take a picture of his colossal concoction, AND a picture of him eating it 🙂

Pic 1

A little bit of everything from Thanksgiving dinner went into this sandwich.

Pic 2

And he loved every bite!

After I moved far away to work on my Ph.D., I still talked to Dad close to every day. No matter what he always asked me two questions: “How are you doing?” and “Whatcha plannin’ to make for dinner tonight?”. I love to cook, and enjoyed telling him about all the dishes I was planning to attempt. In turn, he loved to imagine the meals, and sometimes would give me ideas for tweaking recipes, or a new dish to try.

Pic 3

The nearby botannical gardens hosted a chocolate festival. We, being chocolate fiends, of course went. (~2006)

In June of this year he passed away. It was not a sudden thing, and the family was able to travel to be with him in his final days. The trip was heart wrenching, yet it created a base to begin healing from. I would not trade it for anything.

In the following months I struggled to function. I went right back to work, in the sense that I showed up, but it took 2 months before I had a useful thought related to my research. All I really wanted to do was spend precious time with the people I love. Although a lot of what I love about cooking is to share it with others, I found making dinner nearly impossible. I couldn’t answer the question “Whatcha plannin’ to make for dinner tonight?”.

Pic 4

This was my dad’s absolute favorite picture of the two of us. I think it captures my excitement, and his enthusiasm to share my excitement.

For months meals were thrown together last minute. They were desperately lacking in creativity. After nearly two months, there was a distinct moment when I woke up and had the desire to bake. The giant herb and cheese roll I posted was one of the first things I created as I slowly came back to life. In the last couple weeks I’ve finally been able to start really getting back into the swing of things. I can tell you what’s going to be for dinner tonight (beef stew with dinner rolls), I get excited when I see a new dessert recipe, and baked a pumpkin bread pudding yesterday. Yet there are still moments that hit hard. Like two weeks ago when I realized that I’d just made my first chicken pot pie (delicious), yet I’d never have the chance to make it for Dad. He would have loved it–chicken pot pie was a favorite of his.

Pic 5

This is one of my favorite pictures of my Dad and I. I see nothing but happiness on both of our faces.

A lot of us know how important food, and everything surrounding it, is for memories. It touches every one of our senses, and in doing so our hearts and souls. My Mom taught me to cook, and my Dad taught me to love talking about it. As my heart returns to my love of food preparation, cooking, and conversation, I am able to appreciate more and more the gifts of memories I have. I’m blessed to have shared so much with my Dad, and for the ways he shaped who I am now, and who I will continue to grow into being.

I’m looking forward to spending Thanksgiving at one of my sisters this year, though I don’t yet know what I’ll be making to contribute to the meal. I do know that the day after Thanksgiving I will be making an over-sized leftover sandwich, complete with turkey, potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green beans. And, in memory of my Daddios, I will eat every last messy bite, and love it.

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  1. gail says:

    What a touching memory. Thank you for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  2. GrannyTrace says:

    What a wonderful treasured memory you have with your DAD! Hope your sandwhich is wonderful.
    Big hug to you Faith! And Happy Thanksgiving too.

  3. Alanna says:

    You have alot of wonderful memories-you can treasure them and noone can take them from you. i’m dealing with the loss of my husband of 41 years to cancer on the 23th of August. It’s so hard to to get excited about baking & cooking like I used to be, but I’m making baby steps. Enjoy that sandwitch!

  4. CindyP says:

    You’re so right. Food and everything around it is for memories. Thank you for sharing your Dad with us.

    And good luck with your sandwich:)

  5. Leah's Mom says:

    Yes – thanks for sharing. We’ve had several deaths this year and what you’re saying really resonates. Love all your photos!

  6. baldwinbulldog says:

    Oh my how touching! Reminds me of my dad and I’s relationship! I miss my dad dearly! He’s been gone for 8 yrs now. How sweet, thanks for this post! I totally understand what you mean about struggling to function! Took awhile but finally was able to again! Keep cooking, you know he’s watching and loving it! 😉

  7. Pete says:

    It does get easier with time. Look forward to the time when you can smile more about those lovely memories with less pain.

    Anticipating one of those sandwiches, too! And will be thinking about you and your Dad (as well as mine) while eating it.

  8. deedee says:

    What a wonderful story. You are a blessed person to have such wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing this. Happy Thanksgiving.

  9. lisabetholson says:

    OH Faith you have brought back memories of my dad, and how much he liked food and the celebration it brought. It will get easier, but you will always remember him with such love as you can’t even imagine.
    I lost mine 4 years ago and still think every once in a while that I will call dad and talk to him, but all I can do is talk to him in heaven. I know he is there.

  10. JerseyMom says:

    I hope nobody walks into my office for the next few minutes because they will be wondering why I’m wiping away tears. Thank you for sharing your precious memories. My sweet Daddy has been gone for almost five years now and my Mom for three. I know exactly what you mean about being back at work but only in body. It does take time, but it will get a bit easier, and then a bit easier, until you can smile at your memories without the tears most of the time. Keep cooking, keep remembering, and definitely keep making that sandwich!

  11. Faith says:

    Thank you so much for all your comments. I had a difficult time deciding to write this, but a nagging feeling kept telling me to do it. It was very therapeutic to write it out, and to focus on the positive of the future. I’m glad you all enjoyed reading! Now I just have to remember I can’t call Dad and tell him about it 😛

  12. Ruthmarie says:

    Faith, you don’t have to call your Dad to tell him about what you wrote and how you feel. He already knows. Lovely, lovely posting. Right there in how so many of us accept the passing of loved ones.

  13. stacylee says:

    Thank you for writing this. We still have a hard time at Thanksgiving and Christmas without our dad. It’s a void that can only be filled with memories. I say even if there are tears on that sandwich, you eat it and love it, and then tell him all about it! Outloud and with your mouth full!

  14. Mary says:

    What a lovely tribute to your Dad. In all the pictures you seem to be the center of his universe. I hope someone takes a picture of you with the sandwich, ties it to a balloon, and sends it to your Dad. Blessings.

  15. fennelroot says:

    Yes I agree with Mary, a lovely tribute and even the pictures show how you were the center of his universe. I am sure someone in your family will be happy to help you with the balloon! Keep hold of the memories and try to smile through the tears as you eat your sandwich!

  16. MrsFuzz says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of your dad, and for giving us a window into your healing process. Its always amazing to me how food seems to be such a central theme in loving memories of family & friends. *hugs*

  17. lukesmommie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am wiping away tears. You are blessed to have such great memories. The sandwich looks delicious!

  18. whaledancer says:

    You’ve had such great good fortune to have that kind of love in your life. And I can tell you, the love doesn’t go away; you will carry it with you your whole life. That Thanksgiving sandwich and all the other memories will simply be reminders of that love. Thank you for sharing the story with us.

  19. kellyb says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your father. I can barely see to type because of all the tears. My dad loved Thanksgiving also. He also had a favorite post-Thanksgiving sandwich: 2 slices of bread, filling, turkey and cranberry sauce. He’s been gone 24 years now. My youngest who never met him invented a sandwich a few years ago. You guessed it, two slices of bread, filling, turkey and cranberry sauce.

    Thank you for trusting yourself enough to share this beautiful story with us.

  20. DonnaTN says:

    Thank you for such a lovely post and tribute to your Dad. My Dad always recited a Thanksgiving poem he had to learn for grammar school back in the 30’s. We still recite it every Thanksgiving.

  21. fieldfare says:

    Faith, what a lovely tribute to your Dad! I decided to read your post because of the title, and the immediate recollection of my own Dad’s ‘favorite Thanksgiving Sandwich’, which, like your Dad’s, was what we might call, the Full Meal Deal, between two pieces of bread, the day after Thanksgiving. Our Dad taught all of us kids how to make this, -we no doubt thought it was his own Special Invention; it seemed to require some real talent to find a space in that sandwich for everything that had been in yesterday’s Wonderful Meal – ESPECIALLY, AS I SEE NOW, LOOKING AT YOUR OWN PICTURES: THE JOY. Your beautiful post left me wondering if it might just be possible that there is some SWEET ARCHETYPE that somehow connects THE WORLD’S BEST DADS: -A FAVORITE THANKSGIVING SANDWICH AND THE PLEASURE OF SHARING -OF *TEACHING*- THIS …TO THOSE THEY LOVE MOST. AH, -FAITH! THANK YOU SO MUCH –

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