The other day Calvin asked me about Thanksgivings when I was a kid. I realized I had never told him any of my memories. The conversation sparked a need to write them down. I have been working on this post since he and I had that conversation two weeks ago. I don’t know why it is so hard to get the memories down. I think it is difficult to get the words to mesh with the images and memories in my head. What I remember looks different once it is down on paper.
Thanksgivings when I was growing up were food and family. It is as simple as that. My grandparents lived close and we were at their house all the time, for Sunday dinners, just to drop by and for family card game nights. But Thanksgiving was different, somehow. No one was rushing off to finish chores or do yard work. Everyone was in it for the day.
Grandpa usually made a fire in the fireplace in the family room. The room really wasn’t really big enough for the table extended to its full length, three easy chairs, a crowd of people and the heat of the fire. Yes, it was cozy, but it was also warm, warm, warm. You knew not to wear your heaviest sweater to Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s.
Grandma would make her usual mountain of mashed potatoes. And she would offer them at the table with the zeal of a used car salesman, “Are you sure you can’t eat just a few more? There are plenty.” And there were. Lots. Always.
My Great Aunt Helen always sat next to my dad and asked him to serve her a nice piece of dark meat. She didn’t like white meat, or lean meat when we had roasts at Sunday dinner. She was old school and she liked her rich foods. She lived well into her 90s, so there is a lesson there, I think. Probably her health came from her attitude more than her diet – she was never without a laugh and a smile. And a dollar for each of the kids. Slipped clandestinely into our hands when we gave her a hug.
We ate the big dinner early in the afternoon and then sat around playing cards and visiting. My uncle usually took a nap in a chair in the corner. It always fascinated me that he could sleep right in the middle of all the hubbub. Now that I am an adult, I understand. I think I have had a few of those corner naps myself.
Pie for supper was the highlight of the day for me. After our afternoon of cutthroat games of King’s Corner and Skip-Bo, we would pull out the leftovers. I usually made a token turkey sandwich on a roll and then ate just enough of it to get by. What I really wanted was permission to eat more pie. Once I had Mom’s blessing I would start on the pie – a sliver of pumpkin, a slice of pecan, a bite of apple. If there happened to be any other kinds, I would try those too. For me Turkey Day was, and is, more about the pie than the turkey.
Pie, mashed potatoes, fireplaces, card games and family – that pretty much sums up my Thanksgiving when I was little. What are your favorite memories of Thanksgiving?
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I’m taking the rest of the week off to enjoy the family time. I’ll be back next week.