The spirit of Thanksgivings past

Courtesy of  Robert S Donovan via Flickr

Courtesy of Robert S Donovan via Flickr

Our Thanksgiving celebration these days is much more sedate than when I was younger. For one thing, both my husband’s children and my brother’s son live out-of-state and rarely come home for Thanksgiving. That leaves a small collection of relatives and friends with dinner benefits (not to be confused with regular benefits).

This year we have a small group. I am not complaining though. We are all alive and healthy but it did make me think about Thanksgivings of past years.

When my mother was alive, everyone came to her house. We ate at 1 p.m. or so it was planned. Someone was always late.  That meant my mother was slightly crazed. (Now where did I get that trait?) She had a small house without a dining room so we crowded in a large kitchen. It didn’t matter. It still tasted the same.

There were years when there were small children. There was no children’s table. They were squashed in among the adults. Then as they got older the conversation became more interesting. There is nothing like a gaggle of teenagers for eye-popping conversation. Whatever!

Mom would cook most everything. Sometimes someone brought dessert. She was a great cook and everything was perfectly timed. She never burnt the biscuits. (That has become a family tradition since I took over. The pesky things get done before the timer goes off!)

One of the more memorable years happened when she decided to go to Hawaii over Thanksgiving. We couldn’t believe it. She wasn’t going to be there? To cook for us? How selfish is that! (This was the very first time she was going to fly in an airplane and she was in her 60s.)

I made most of the dinner which we had at her house — everything except the gravy. My niece’s husband offered to make the gravy while I was doing something else. He was fiddling at the stove but I didn’t pay attention. He was and still is a great cook. How can you mess up gravy!

It wasn’t thickening enough to suit him so he added more flour and before you know it we had gravy pudding to plop on our stuffing. We laughed through that dinner!

Some years we tried a new recipe. Mostly they were not well received. At our house, it’s a “don’t mess with the traditional food” attitude. Don’t even try slipping oranges or nuts in the cranberry sauce! Straight from the Ocean Spray can — no store brands please.

There was one Thanksgiving that my brother was supposed to make pumpkin pies. I don’t remember why but it didn’t happen. On the way he stopped at a store and was unable to get pumpkin so he picked up a minced meat pie. Eyow! Only he ate it. What a ruckus that was.

Families grow up and move around. Kids have other things to do. Football rivalries are scheduled. People with in-laws and out-laws rotate holidays. Now we have to factor in shopping on Thanksgiving (what is that all about!!!!)

I believe in enjoying what you have now. It may be different next year.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

24 thoughts on “The spirit of Thanksgivings past

  1. Ocean Spray cranberry sauce – the best. We also have a few renegades who insist on messing with tradition – thank heavens! Their contributions at the Thanksgiving meal are always delicious and quickly devoured.

    Glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Kate. Our was as well.


  2. We wrote the same post today … well, sort of … a look towards the past, and a reminder to remember to savor our time with family and friends. When I was married and we attended the family Thanksgiving at my in-law’s home, we were always assigned different dishes, and my mother-in-law made the turkey and biscuits. It was a long-standing joke that her biscuits were like lumps of stone, but the truth is, I’d sure like to have one of her biscuits today. I’ll take her heavy over-cooked lump of biscuit over fluffy poufs of deliciousness any day of the week because I really miss my in-laws, and the warmth and family atmosphere we shared in their home. Those were fabulous years, and I just wish I had known then how much I would miss them when they were gone. Low-key is nice, too. Just sharing time with others. 🙂


    • I thought the same thing when I read yours. It’s the spirit of Thanksgiving. And it should always be about the people and not the food. (Said by a person who just spent several hours prepping the stuffing.)


  3. I really enjoyed your “trip down memory lane” — made me think of our huge fun-filled family holidays of old — we got squinched in amongst the adults, too — but as we got older a kid’s table was added in the kitchen. Fun times.

    Really loved your ending: “I believe in enjoying what you have now. It may be different next year.” we will get to have the grands this holiday and that’s really special, it was a hard won scrap between my son & former DIL … who fights just to fight ~sigh. He stood his ground and the wee ones are coming along after all. I don’t take that for granted.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours.



  4. I remember when my mom made the announcement that she was hanging up her apron and passing the tradition to me and my sisters, it was the same reaction your family had when your mom decided to leave you all in the dust. That really made me laugh! Have a Happy Thanksgiving Kate and enjoy your company. I will be hosting/working like a dog!


  5. Allow me to blow some smoke up your cranberry sauce. I really love how you write. You could have sent this to Good Housekeeping. I mean it, the way it reads…its fluid visuals. I love how there was no kids table wedging them between all the adults like midgets..okay…Little People…in-laws, out-laws…the gravy you could have Spackled with. What I recall the most at my mother’s table was the deluge of food for days…it was as though she worked for a correctional facility and could only cook for 700. No wonder in those days I looked like a squat cookie jar..real nice essay Kate.


  6. We have enjoyed Thanksgivings in numerous locales ~ New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina. The menu has varied from the standards to homemade egg rolls to twice baked potatoes to every version of cranberry sauce you can imagine.

    But I must concur . . . Mincemeat will NEVER be welcome! :mrgreen:

    Our favorite Thanksgiving pies ~> Pecan, Turtle Pie, or Pumpkin Cheesecake.


  7. With all of our pet sitting appointments, cooking is impossible. But a local events place is making Thanksgiving dinner for us, and all we have to do is pick it up tomorrow, and heat it up on Thanksgiving. We have about 3-4 hours free midday, and we are thankful for that, and for people who are making our dinner for us! Happy Thanksgiving!


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