A blast from the past!

Courtesy of Robert S Donovan via Flickr

Here is an oldie from 2015. Some things have changed and some haven’t. Enjoy!

Our Thanksgiving celebration is much more sedate than it used to be. 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 benefits (dinner benefits, not those other ones).

This year we have a small group. I am not complaining. We are alive and healthy but it made 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, usually my brother.  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 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 interesting. There is nothing like a gaggle of teenagers for eye-popping conversation.

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 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. What a fuss we made!)

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 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. 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 when 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.

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

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Most of these sentiments were penned a few years back. Those old feelings of family never go away!

67 thoughts on “A blast from the past!

  1. What a lovely nostalgic post Kate! I miss our big family dinners on my parents farm, with everyone home and grandparents and young nieces and nephews. Most times we had 17, at the table but one year 21 as my brother brought strays….no problem….there was always an overflow table in the kitchen as the dining room table only seated 12. All crammed into a small old white farmhouse…what fun times and good conversation we had. Looking back, what a lot of work for my mother, but she never complained.

    Liked by 1 person

    • PS. One year my sister bought theatre tickets for my parents in Toronto for the weekend, so my brother and I had to cook the turkey, as they planned on being back home by 6pm. I was maybe mid-20s but had never cooked a turkey, so we had to call my grandmother for advice…there were frozen giblets in the neck we didn’t know what to do with, and the bird was still partly frozen. My new SIL was no help at all as she was vegetarian. My grandma was so worried she came out early. Anyway, we managed to get it all on the table, and I’m sure it was a treat for my mother to come home to a Thanksgiving meal someone else had cooked.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have similar memories from when my grandparents were alive and created the most wonderful Thanksgiving dinners and probably my most enjoyable Thanksgiving memories. We’ve had many wonderful years since that time, but there’s something about those early years that set the standard for everything that has since been set in action.

    I loved reading your piece, Kate. I love the gravy story! 🙂 Hope your Thanksgiving was particularly wonderful this year, too.

    Liked by 1 person

      • When my mom had a hip replacement, I took some time off work as they sent her home way too soon and she was not able to get around much for a few more weeks. She would watch me and say “bring that ^&%$ cucumber over here to the table and I’ll cut it – there won’t be anything left of it by the time you’re done.” She did criticize me for being slow or clumsy in the kitchen, but 8th Grade Home Ec had been pretty useless in my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. There is something particularly joyful about Thanksgiving, the [mostly] stress-free holiday. When my mom was alive, we all chipped in with various dishes but she did the gravy which was always perfection. There is something universal about ‘crispy’ biscuits at the holiday dinner table. Happy belated Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As far back as I remember every thanksgiving we had Ocean Spray jellied cranberry and I still do. I’m in Canada and we had ours in October. Got together with a few relatives, but I miss the large family gatherings we used to have. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SSNS secures a couple of cans of Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce in October. There has never been a shortage of OS jellied cranberry sauce to my knowledge. He can’t take a bite of stuffing without adding jellied cranberry sauce to the fork… he can’t eat the potatoes without a bite of stuffing and so it goes. I enjoyed your memories, Kate. I can still see my Mom bent over in front of the oven with the metal turkey baster in her hand, in her Thanksgiving apron and her Dearfoam slippers on her tiny feet. When she passed away and we had to clean out the house, she had 30 packages of unworn Dearfoam slippers. I love minced meat pie and we never had Thanksgiving or Christmas without one. I hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t remember ever having Thanksgiving with anyone besides our immediate family. Well, one year when my mom was in the hospital and we had dinner with a neighbor. I think it’s possible that my grandparents were there for Christmas one year, but I don’t actually remember it. Mom was always our holiday host. I did actually host one year, you know, newly in my own space. I miss Mom. We whittled Thanksgiving down into the few things we liked the very best and I still do a variation on that. Tweaking the cranberry sauce is fun now and then, but so is just making the regular version.

    Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with any or all of your family. Enjoy the love!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well, then, I’d be buying a can of the jellied stuff for the rest of the family and making myself some good whole berry sauce. Sometimes I add orange. Horseradish is surprisingly good. I learned last year that Stevia is not an option. Vanilla was also suggested somewhere and I didn’t like that. Really, just simple is fine with me and I don’t even mind the canned kind. I just usually make mine a bit less sweet.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved reading about your Thanksgivings from the past. My kids still won’t eat mincemeat pie but Husband and I love it. Pumpkin for today. It will be quiet, just Daughter will be here. I am thankful for all that I have and for another year. Happy Thanksgiving, Kate.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your Thanksgiving traditions sound wonderful. I don’t have any great memories. The day was often sorta tense with little laughter or fun. Now there is no family other than my brother and his family who live in another state so it’s just me and the cats.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. When I was growing up I never really thought about how tiny a crowd we had for Thanksgiving or Christmas. We just had VERY VERY few relatives period. So it usually was just us kids with Mom and Dad. Mom was a mediocre cook – her specialty was meatloaf (not for Thanksgiving but for dinners) – and it was really “pushing the boat out” for her to do a turkey dinner. Anyway, these days it’s just me and my husband – and I do the whole turkey dinner thing and enjoy it so much – until it’s time to do the dishes! HAHA HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    Hugs, Pam

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I was a kid we ate at 1 p.m. so my mom was up at 5 putting the turkey in the oven. It was a morning of a lot of activity. After we ate, everyone crashed in front of football games and napped until 4 when the food came out again. Looking back, I admire my mom’s stamina. No dishwasher back then. The women did the dishes and it was a day full of not only family but a lot of work. With microwaves and doing some things ahead, it’s easier today. The only thing my mom made ahead of time was the stuffing and 4 pumpkin pies. Both the day before. I am not made of the same stock my mom was.


  10. I miss Thanksgivings when mom cooked and grandparents and great aunt Edie joined us at the table. Today, we’re heading to Orlando to my sister’s with the potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, black olives, and some snacks since dinner is apt to be LATE!

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I miss Thanksgivings when mom cooked and grandparents and great aunt Edie joined us at the table. Today, we’re heading to Orlando to my sister’s with the potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, black olives, and some snacks since dinner is apt to be LATE!

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That sounds idyllic. And it is HARD to get every dish to finish at the same time. No wonder your mother would get cross at latecomers. When you come from a divorced, blended, second divorced, re-blended, divorced yet again kind of a family, traditions go by the wayside pretty fast. Plus, my parents were terrible cooks. So we all are happy to try new dishes with fresh foodie spins. Nothing is sacred. Yesterday I did the maple cream pie and about 125 cookies, since I heard from our hostess (spouse’s cousin) that families with kids had RSVPed last minute.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s interesting how Thanksgiving seems to nudge everyone toward nostalgia, more so than Christmas it seems to me. If a traditional dinner is what the crowd wants, that’s what they get! May your table be filled with the *right* feast.

    Liked by 1 person

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