Thanksgiving traditions that seemed set in stone when I was little are fond memories 70+ years later. When we were children we were dressed up in our Sunday best and taken to Grandma’s house for the day. There we sat down to a huge meal of turkey and all the trimmings served on the company china, with lots of polished silverware, and huge heavy serving dishes to pass. Dinner at 12 pm, on the dot!
After the meal, the “ladies” retired to the kitchen where they chatted, washed and dried all the “good dishes” and scrubbed the pots and pans while the grandpas and Dad dozed in comfortable chairs. Weather permitting, an afternoon walk was followed by games of cribbage.
At 6 pm (on the dot!), all the plates and silver and leftovers came out again for “supper”, followed by another session of more dishwashing in the kitchen. At last, bundled up in snow suits, we fell asleep in the cold car on the way home. Dad carried us in to bed and when we woke up it was Friday.
That tradition of going to Grandma’s house changed when, just out of college, the Writer and I were married in September and I cooked my first Thanksgiving feast in November for a houseful.
Around a makeshift table, guests sat in borrowed chairs and included the grandparents who had cooked all those Thanksgiving dinners of my childhood.
Much pressure for the new cook!
No one was more astonished than I was when I produced a huge turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, vegetables, and assorted pies that all tasted delicious!
Subsequent Thanksgivings were spent in many different ways and places as people moved, relationships changed, another generation was added, beloved grandparents died. A most memorable holiday was the one in 1987 when I returned from Mexico, jet lagged and exhausted, on the day before Thanksgiving with two newly adopted children!
Other unforgettable Thanksgivings have been spent serving holiday meals to Hmong, Somali and other new immigrants and homeless people in our town, followed by cleaning up after hundreds of diners. Never have I felt more fortunate and thankful for my own blessings than when serving these people.
Now our children have young families, large houses, new traditions, and we are the guests. This year we will have dinner in Charleston with the families of two children, including a newborn baby. Missing will be one son in Florida with a baby due any minute, one daughter in Germany, and another in Minnesota.
Wherever and however (or even IF) you celebrate Thanksgiving, Thursday can be a day to reflect on and appreciate our blessings and to vow to bless and be a blessing in the lives of others in return.