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Author Spotlight: Thanksgiving Memory from Melanie Benjamin, author of THE AVIATOR’S WIFE

November 14th, 2013

Benjamin_Aviator's WifeThanksgiving is officially two weeks away and, boy, we are really looking forward to the turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie! While anxiously awaiting the delicious feast in our near future, we’ve teamed up with some Random House Reader’s Circle authors so they can share their favorite Thanksgiving recipes and memories with you.

Today, Melanie Benjamin, author of The Aviator’s Wife, jumps right to our sweet tooth and shares her grandmother’s Cherry Delight recipe:

Come Thanksgiving, there is only one item that my family really cares about. We could have pizza instead of turkey; French fries instead of mashed potatoes. But we must have my grandmother’s “Cherry Delight” dessert in order for the world to feel right and happy and jolly; in order for us to feel like a family, and not just a collection of individuals brought together to eat too much.

Aviator's-Wife---GrandmaBGrandma B – that’s what we called her, but she was really Grandma Blickenstaff. My parents always say that I remind them of her, and I’m not sure how; I don’t scrub my garage floor, like she did; I don’t iron my sheets, either. She was the quintessential German hausfrau. But I suppose I do see myself in her fierce tenacity; the way she had of marching through life with quick, determined strides, always in a rush, never willing to suffer fools gladly. In fact, it’s literally the walk that we share; that’s what my parents always comment about. I simply don’t linger; I have places to go, people to see.

Grandma B died in 2001; it was an autumn I’ll never forget. In quick succession, The Twin Towers fell, my son broke his arm playing Pee Wee football, and Grandma B died after a short illness at the age of 90.

But in time, we moved on. They’re building on the site of the World Trade Center. My son’s arm healed, and he gave up football and took up the drums. And I now possess Grandma B’s index file of recipes, as well as the responsibility of bringing the Cherry Delight to every holiday gathering. The index card I use is faded; the ink pale blue, the handwriting spidery. Grandma’s list of ingredients calls for something called “Oleo,” which I had to look up. It’s an old-fashioned term for margarine.

I use butter instead. But that’s the only change I’ve made to Grandma B’s recipe. Because some things shouldn’t change. Especially if they allow your family to recognize itself, despite the inevitable changes over the years.

Melanie-BenjaminGrandma B’s Cherry Delight

Mix Together:
18 Graham crackers, crushed (or 1 ¼ cup Graham cracker crumbs)
1 stick butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
Spread in 9X9 baking pan, well-greased

Cream:
8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Spread on crust and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, let cool. Spread 1 can of cherry pie filling on top. Top with Cool Whip and refrigerate until chilled.

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving recipe or memory? Share it with us on our Facebook page.

Be sure to check in with us between now and Thanksgiving for more recipes!
Next up: Laura Andersen.

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