This time of year makes me think of the seasonal classic song, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go…” Growing up Thanksgiving was a wonderful holiday and gave me some of my best family memories. It was a holiday all about family, gathering and being thankful for our blessings.
Our family gathered at Grandmother’s house, and most traveled some distance to make it home for the holiday. Our family only one town away from Grandpa & Grandma’s place so we would arrive first. The highlight of the day was to hear my Grandma say with a smile in her heart that the Rosses have just pulled in, that the DeMoney family was here, Ron & John were unloading or that the Virtues with the boys had arrived. She loved it when the whole family came home.
Our family gathering included much more than my grandparent’s children and grandchildren. It would also include like-family friends like Aunt Hermine and Uncle Raymond who were not actually family, but to us they were. Then there were work co-workers and other friends who did not come for the full day, but would stop by later in the day to check in like Alice and Buck, who each had their own family.
My Grandma loved to cook. Most of the cooking for this holiday fell to my grandma. She would cook the turkey and ham, the potatoes, stuffing and of course all the pies. The rest of the family would bring side dishes. This resulted in a feast fit for a king, but in no way would all fit on a small kitchen table. So as much of the dinner as possible would be on the table, with overflow on the counters and the stove. You would pick up your plate and move around the kitchen filling your plate in the finest smorgesboard style.
Grandma and Grandpa’s house was little house with a kitchen, a TV room and a living room. This holiday would stretch it to the limit, sort of like frat boys stuffing a phone booth. There was no Norman Rockwell gathering at a single table. No sir, the men came first and filled their plates and returned to the TV room to watch the football game. The kids came next filling their plates with mothers asking their children wouldn’t they like to try this salad your aunt brought or that you could not only eat mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Then the kids would head to the front room with words of caution not to spill, or one year we ate outside at the picnic table. The women would then sit down at the kitchen table and fill their plates and catch up on the world.
It was a grand time where the whole family reconnected. Men bonded in their man way in front of the TV. The women talked and talked. The kids we were a big enough group to play any game that we choose.
My grandparents are both gone now, along with my Aunt Linda. The family is no longer geographically close enough that we can all drive “home” in a day, we have scattered much wider. The cousins are now all grown up, with children and a few grandchildren. We may not gather together any longer, but we are still all wrapped with the warm memories of Thanksgivings past.