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Black Joy Through Food: Bring Me Home A Plate

A peek inside the Clinton family’s Thanksgiving tradition.

Black Joy Through Food is a Sweet July series in collaboration with Black Women Photographers. This photo essay is shot and written by Malaika Muindi and Valerie Pugh.

The Clinton family shares how their Thanksgiving traditions aren’t always around a decorative table. They sometimes gather in an elderly relative’s living room or travel to the doorstep of a family friend’s house to drop off a meal in an aluminum carry-out container or tupperware. Bringing a plate to a loved one who couldn’t attend the holiday dinner is always a part of the experience.

Savory aromas and warm tones fill the Clinton’s dining room. Empty seats and place settings await to be filled and surrounded with love.

Every year Mrs. Clinton breaks out her large caldero pots to cook large portions. One of the staple dishes Mrs. Clinton prepares for her family every Thanksgiving meal is collard greens with turkey necks. 

Learning to take on family traditions, Amanda assists in the kitchen with her mother-in-law. She appreciates the tradition of sharing a good meal with family and friends. Amanda is happy to help plate the warm corn muffins, the last dish to be plated before the family meal. 

Amanda prepares a “to-go” container for a relative that is unable to attend Thanksgiving dinner this year. This is only one of the several containers that they will prepare that evening. 

The sound of the metal serving spoons resting against the glass bowls filled with their favorite foods fill the room as the family helps serve one another.

“It makes me feel good because I know that I cooked this meal and there are so many people out there who can’t have a meal,” says Mrs. Clinton. After dinner Mr. Clinton is going to bring his mother, who couldn’t attend dinner, a plate.

Elianel (pictured in the patterned sweater) speaks on how seeing his family work together in the kitchen has always been a staple memory for him throughout the years. It inspires him to keep those moments documented for years to come.

Mrs. Clinton expresses how much she would love for her traditions to be carried on through the generations. “Every year I make 24 pies and give them away,” she says. “I don’t know how to make something small, we always have extra to share.”

Elianel calls his family “natural givers.” He believes the Clinton family’s traditions will always be in good hands.

The Clinton’s sit together for a family portrait, happy to be in each other’s company. Gratitude, affection and openness made it the perfect family dinner.

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