As the month of November marches ever onward, my mind automatically turns to Thanksgiving’s past, always a time of joy and now reflection.
As I was growing up, had you asked me what Thanksgiving was for, I probably would have answered with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and putting up the Christmas tree along with eating too much pie. Now, it’s all about family and memories.
The day would start with getting ready and watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It simply wasn’t Thanksgiving without the parade. It was always a dream of mine and Dad’s to visit New York during the holidays, and I aim to get there in his memory.
Our first stop would be Dad’s relatives who lived in the house where I now reside. This house has sheltered my family for many generations. Upon entering, you automatically knew it was a happy place. Every available space was filled with laughing and talking people. Atop the tables sat bowls filled with nuts, fruits of every variety and a huge box of chocolate. Dad’s Aunt Letha would be cooking turkey, dressing and all the trimmings in the kitchen. No matter what else was being served, I guarantee you a pot of brown beans and biscuits was there also.
On the table would be jars of apple butter and jellies. In each jar would be a spoon. The table would always be full of laughing people eating their fill. Letha would always laugh and run a few that were only talking off so we could have our turn.
I remember one time tensions flared as a certain gentleman didn’t like being told to leave the table so we could sit down. Letha didn’t care because she took it a step further and put him out of the house until he cooled down.
As I now cook Thanksgiving dinner in that same kitchen, I like to imagine Letha is there, smiling at me.
The next stop would be my Granny’s. Never a woman happier to be cooking than my Granny. She was always standing at the stove, stirring a pot and smiling so big. I remember so well her getting one of those chairs that were also a step stool and letting me and my cousins take turns cutting out biscuits. So much of how I cook today is from doing things with my Granny.
I don’t think anyone ever had to worry about leaving Granny’s house hungry because she always wanted to feed you more and more.
Finally, we would head home for the last meal of the day. Pumpkin pie always tastes better on Thanksgiving than on any other day.
I was always eager to get the Christmas tree up, so my Mom got a small flocked one and let me set it up and decorate it every Thanksgiving night. I always looked so forward to it.
Now my family is gone, my kids and I have our own traditions while trying to include some old ways. I hope we’re honoring and making our ancestors proud.