My Grandmother’s Fruit Bowl

When I was a child, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite days of the year. It still is.

Watching the Macy’s Day Parade, in black and white, was the background for all the busy kitchen noises that sometimes won out over the high school bands and Broadway singers. My brothers and I would be glued to the television, fascinated by the floats, and within eyeshot of the marvelous fruit bowl that was perched on the coffee table away from the busy kitchen.

Exotic treats

Every year, my mother would buy apples and oranges, grapes, and sometimes bananas, and place them in her mother’s frosted pink glass fruit bowl. The apples were pretty common, but oranges and grapes were exotic fruits to us at the time. We had them when they were in season, and that was it, especially the oranges. They were expensive, so they were always something delightful at the holidays.

My Mémé’s fruit bowl is made of frosted pink glass, and had matching sugar bowl and creamer. The creamer is chipped, but I still use that too. Part of the holiday ritual!

She decorated the bowl of fruit with lots of mixed nuts in the shell, and filled a second smaller bowl with the overflow. During the day we were allowed to slowly nibble one now and again, but we knew we couldn’t be too greedy. Having to crack them one at a time definitely slowed us down.

My inheritance

I inherited the bowl from my mother, and I still bring it out each year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and on a whim as well. There is also a sugar bowl and creamer that matches. The creamer has a big chip, but I use it anyway, nothing is perfect, and it is still quite functional. I fuss to make the bowl look as pretty as she did, only now it looks much smaller than when I was a kid. This year, I had a great deal of trouble finding the whole nuts. I went to three markets, and was told by one clerk that people don’t bother shelling nuts any more, they want them ready to use. Where’s the fun in that?

The grapes

I finally found them on a holiday display, and was delighted that all the standard nuts were present, including my favorite Brazil nuts and hazelnuts. The grapes we had when I was a kid were purple, and they had seeds in them, which didn’t in any way hinder our delight at eating them. I couldn’t find purple grapes that looked good, so I had to go with seedless green, and they were much larger than anything we had back in the good old days.

A little then, a little now

So my fruit bowl, like so much of what we serve at Thanksgiving, is a little memory, and a lot reality of how we cook and eat today, and what is available. We’ll have turkey (cooked with the stuffing outside the bird), gravy, mashed potatoes, all the sides we love, including nut-, gluten-and dairy-free dishes along with vegan and full fat everything. We’ll serve up everyone’s favorite pie even if it means I have to make six pies! Mom made pumpkin, apple, and lemon meringue, and called it a day. This year, at our table there will be chocolate cream, key lime, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, pumpkin, and apple. There will be lots to send home with other folks, and they will be happy.

We’ll still have the parade droning in the background, and after our meal, there will be football games, lots of dishes, and more stories to share about what is going on this year, memories and plans served up in equal measure.

The memories don’t change a lot, and neither does that wonderful feeling of sharing the cooking and serving up a feast to remember with those we love, keeping in our hearts those who are no longer here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! May your tables be filled with love and laughter, and everything delicious.


My daughter’s pie display a few Thanksgivings ago. She aims to please as well when it comes to pie!

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60 Comments Add yours

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Dorothy! You article brought back so many treasured memories from my family holiday meals. We too had a fruit bowl filled with fresh fruit and whole nuts. And Brazil nuts are my favorite too! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Lovely memories and beautiful selection of pies! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family ❤️

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to your family as well, have a lovely day!

  3. jama says:

    Beautiful post, Dorothy. Enjoyed reading about the fruit bowl. There’s nothing like family, friends and food. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    1. I with you all a day of delights and laughter!

      1. jama says:

        You too!

  4. NativeNM says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Dorothy! Have a fabulous day with your family! I would love to sample a slice of all your pies, they sound delicious!

    1. C.A. Post says:

      What? No pecan pie!? I’ll drop by next year when you do one of those for me. 😄 Just teasin,’ of course, but if we ever come through New England, or rather next time we come through, Anita and I will be in touch!!
      ❤️&🙏, c.a.

      1. Absolutely! And I’ll make you a pecan pie, because everyone needs to have their favorite!

    2. They came out really well, I must say, and everyone will be happy!

  5. Ally Bean says:

    I, too, find it difficult to find whole nuts. For me they’re not about Thanksgiving, but a Christmas tradition. I get your need for them for your Thanksgiving celebration– and boy don’t they add character to your grandmother’s fruit bowl. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you Ally! Have a lovely day!

  6. I love and appreciate “…a little memory, and a lot reality of how we cook and eat today, and what is available.” That about sums it up for sure. I love the memory of your fruit bowl, and I haven’t seen whole nuts in a long time. I don’t think I’ve been to a meal with six pies, but it sounds like my ideal menu. 🙂

    1. Granddaughter’s key lime, other granddaughter’s blueberry (she made it herself last night!), grandson’s strawberry rhubarb, my husband and daughter-in-law’s pumpkin, my son-in-law’s apple, and my daughter and I love the chocolate cream. All bases covered, and I don’t want to roll out pie dough until Christmas…

  7. Ronit says:

    Heart warming post!
    Happy Thanksgiving and all the best wishes. 🙂

    1. Have a wonderful day Ronit!

  8. Bernadette says:

    Such a beautiful post. I will be over on Friday morning. I will bring the coffee to go along with the leftover pie.❤️

    1. terrie gura says:

      Count me in for a slice, too! 🥰

    2. There will be plenty! Can’t wait!

  9. terrie gura says:

    I love your family stories, Dorothy!

  10. Maggie says:

    What a lovely and touching post, Dorothy. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  11. brwbmm says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to Dorothy and all your blog followers.
    For many years we celebrated Thanksgiving at my brother’s home, probably because he had the biggest dining room and his wife loved to entertain. The hostess made the turkey and some pies and the rest of us brought the side dishes. My mom always brought the pre-dinner snack which was stuffed dates. The recipe is easy: remove the pits from the dates and stuff them with fresh walnuts. Then roll them in granulated sugar and they’re done.

    1. I love that recipe! So simple, but I’m sure a crowd pleaser, especially with the kids. There are dates everywhere right now!

  12. Christy B says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful family tradition! We always have pumpkin pie with dessert on Thanksgiving. It’s nice to learn the food “musts” that each family has at the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving to you and family xo

  13. Anonymous says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Dorothy. This post reminded me fruit bowl that my Mom used to make for sure during New Year 🙂

    1. Those special treats!

  14. lisinmayenne says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Dorothy ~ I hope you and your family have a wonderful celebration! Thanksgiving is obviously not part of my cultural heritage but as a child, one of the things I loved about Christmas the most was the bowls of tangerines and whole nuts that were such a treat, boxes of sticky dates, too. It’s wonderful to have such simple yet meaningful family traditions centred on gratitude for lovely foods. 😊

    1. As I was making the fruit bowl, I was thinking of all that, and how we always have a bowl of fruit sitting on the counter, but those same fruits, that are now quite every day, are elevated when placed in the family dish!

  15. Gail says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to my “Sister in Christ”. 🌟✨💫

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Have a marvelous day!

  16. TaMara says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday as well. All about the traditional flavors that bring back memories.

    1. And everyone celebrates!

  17. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    1. I hope you had a wonderful day!

      1. It was good, thanks. Still recovering from a virus that’s going around but we’re much better.

  18. Anonymous says:

    My family traditions are also so firmly rooted in my memory and nostalgia for certain recipes and foodways, especially at holiday time. I really enjoyed this piece. Happy Thanksgiving, Dorothy 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! The foods we grew up with on those special occasions, or even ordinary days, are deeply linked to our memories. There’s nothing like the small of bread baking, and one whiff and I’m back in mom’s kitchen!

  19. Jenna says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Dorothy, I enjoyed reading about your special memories!

    1. Thanks Jenna! I hope you had a lovely day! I’m sure it was colorful and filled with love!

  20. CarolCooks2 says:

    Your thanksgiving memories are similar to my Christmas memories..I too have some treasured dishes and memory’s of my father shelling the brazils and the walnuts for us and then my mother grumbling at the mess he made with the shells-smile…I hope your Thanksgiving and memories were not too raw…A beautiful post… Hugs xx

    1. Thank you Carol!
      The hardest nuts to crack were the butternuts. My mother confiscated my father’s vise in order to break them open! He was not amused, then took over the job.

  21. nancyc says:

    I love Thanksgiving too because of all the special traditions and memories! How nice that you have your grandmother’s beautiful bowl to carry on her tradition! 🙂

    1. Thank you Nancy! I love that the expectations around the holiday are all about food, making food, eating food, packing it up, food memories, and the only prep is shopping for the food and digging out the food dishes!

  22. JOY journal says:

    Love this!! I always put out a bowl of nuts — and a cracker — in the living room each year. My family never fails to make a mess with this, but I don’t care! Blessings!!

    1. Cracking nuts open has become a lost art!

  23. Americaoncoffee says:

    Deliciously displayed! I love your grandma’s fruit bowl. I am working on a giant fruit bowl myself. I have to be careful about my input and arrangement, fruits are so perishable. I hope your Turkey day was filled with comfort and love.

    1. We had a lovely time, thank you so much!

  24. Joni says:

    That was a nice memory. My mom and grandmother both had glass fruit bowls which they filled only at Christmas time and New Years (another big meal). We also had the bags of nuts that you had to crack – with a set of nutcrackers and these little picks that were used to get the nut out of the shell. That was part of the fun. Your pies look wonderful.

    1. Thank you! Food memories are an important part of our families’ histories.
      I’d love to take credit, but the pies were my daughter’s a couple of years ago!

  25. sunisanthosh says:

    Dorothy, you depicted heartwarming traditional memories here. It was really beautiful. 🍎🍓🍇

    1. Oh, thank you so much! Traditions are what it’s all about.

  26. What a wonderful tradition and memory with your mother’s bowl. It looks like your daughter picked up your cooking skill!

  27. What a beautiful story Dorothy and such a lovely tradition to continue. Mine is so similar to yours it’s scary! Love watching the parade, delights me every year. Hugs, C

    1. It has to at least be droning in the background or it’s not Thanksgiving morning!

  28. Happy memories 😍 6 pies 🥧 wow 😉 that strawberry rhubarb sounds veeeery interesting 😋😋 I’m sure you had a wonderful time! Your daughter’s pies display is amazing! You can say that she’s your daughter 😉

  29. petespringerauthor says:

    How wonderful to have a tangible item to remind you of your mom. We follow certain family traditions that my parents inspired.

    1. It always makes me stop for a moment, and remember how important that bowl of fruit was on the holidays!

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