There’s a very old, worn notecard in a recipe basket that reads “from the kitchen of Tracy Johnson,” and on that card is the recipe for our Great Grandmother’s pumpkin pie.  Every Thanksgiving eve, the women in our family gather together to bring this special recipe to life.

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I (Tracy) have no memories of being with my Grandmother as this pie was made.  In fact, because we never lived in the same city with her I have no memories of her cooking at all.  But there was a recipe book she gave to my mom early in married life that included the recipe for this pie.  I can remember watching my mom make the pumpkin pie and the questions I would ask her about Grandmother Marie.  My mother’s words about her mother were always spoken with a bit of a smile and a special fondness, evidence of the deep bond they shared.  I built my own imaginings about who my grandmother was in the kitchen and the food she made, crafted around the stories my mom told me about her mother and grandmother.  I often wished that I had experienced the closeness and tradition that my mother described with her mother and grandmother and siblings.  My dreams of having a big family of my own began as I listened to my mother’s stories, just the two of us in the kitchen as I grew up.

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Tonight, each Johnson girl brought her heart to the pie.  I (Katy) measured (incorrectly at first, which resulted in remaking the pie), Allison photographed, Libby poured, Elly stirred, and Mom oversaw throughout.  The kitchen was loud and busy with chatter, laughter, and fake offense as each girl joked with the other five.  As the voices and hands traveled around the kitchen island to help, there was the classic conflict that comes with grown women in the kitchen, and there was much gratitude to feel– in the traditions, the memories, the returning home, the play of sisters spread over 17 years, and the men they all love who will help to eat Great Grandmother’s illustrious pumpkin pie.  Simple treasures… such an important part of our Thanksgiving.

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My (Tracy) dreams and imaginings about what it would be like to have a big family have come true and tonight in our kitchen my great grandmother and grandmother and my mom were all present in my heart as the pie was made by my girls.

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Thanksgiving can come, Grandmother’s Pumpkin Pie is made and waiting to be enjoyed.


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Allison Johnson resides in downtown Chicago and has just entered her last year of college at Moody Bible Institute, where she studies youth ministry. She finds beauty in simplicity and spontaneity, and in the midst of living her life in all of the messiness of being 22. She laughs loudly, dances frequently, and creates art through any and every medium. Her heart is set on living passionate adventures, filled with glorious people and places.
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Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world.  She’s a 24 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart.  Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day.  For now, she is honored to be a part of Red Tent Living.
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Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12).  Married for 26 years, she is mother to five kids.  After nearly a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.  Founder of Seized by Hope Ministries, she writes here.
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