Okay, yeah, I know. The jingle bells have been ringin’ and singin’ since November first. (Earlier in some places.) If that’s your thing, that’s okay. But, Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, and this week is Thanksgiving (hint: it comes the day before Black Friday).
At My Grandmother’s House
|Grandmother getting everything ready.
We lived with my grandparents in their little two-bedroom bungalow for a number of my growing up years. My grandmother in the kitchen always = spectacular meals. Thanksgiving was no exception. Since their preferred meal time for holiday meals was noonish to 1 p.m., she was up early to put ol’ Tom in the oven to give him enough time to cook. The filling was made the evening before, stuffed into ol’ Tom, and he was relegated to their enormous walk-in refrigerator. (AKA the attic)
Grandmother’s stuffing was the pièce de résistance. It was drowned in butter in which onions had been sauteed, and broth from the pans where the celery and giblets were simmered. The giblets were chopped finely, and mixed into the stuffing . Grandmother always made extra filling to put on turkey sandwiches later.
One of the trimmings was black olives. The entire family had a thing about them, and would walk through the kitchen a number of times, and use some sort of sleight of hand and end up with a hand full of black olives. It was a wise cook who had some extra black olives so there were some left for the dinner – a tradition that continues to this day.
|Grandfather getting ready to carve the turkey
My job was to set the table. I was under five years old, but my Grandmother had patiently taught me how to fold the napkins, put the fork on the left, and the knife and spoon on the right. Then, I had to find something quiet to do until the feast was ready – usually coloring.
When the feast was on the table, we thanked God for our blessings, and then fell to. Grandfather always piled his plate up at least twice, and complained good naturedly that he needed a plate with sides to get everything on it. About the time the kitchen was all cleaned up, everyone was filtering back into the kitchen for turkey sandwiches (with stuffing and cranberry sauce on them of course) and Pumpkin Pie.
The Portugal Thanksgiving that stands out in my memory is the first one we celebrated there. We were newlyweds (I hope that doesn’t spoil any suspense for those of you who are enjoying my regular Portugal posts 😉 ) Since Harry had bought a large table with extra leaves to stretch it out, it fell to us that year to host the meal. Each of the team members was to bring their favorite Thanksgiving side dish.
We had all of the usual things: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, celery sticks, and so on. The thing that rendered that particular Thanksgiving unforgettable, was the side dish that the team member from Miami brought. I later learned that it was not an unusual Thanksgiving dish in the southern states, but 32 years later, I can still remember the cognitive dissonance I experienced when she put stuffed eggs on the table.
Due to the beneficence of my sister, we had an Amish-made table with ten leaves that year. We used to always have some friends come to share our Thanksgiving dinner, and I believe there were 22 of us of all ages seated at the table on that Thanksgiving. One person was brand new to our gathering. My daughter had graduated with her A.S. in Office Systems Technology or something like that, and was hired by a local church. One of the other employees had no plans for Thanksgiving, so we invited him to eat with us. Just before the feast day, he clarified to said daughter that he was interested in dating her. You may imagine that we were anxious to meet him.
Though a quiet man, he had girded his loins and braved a room full of strangers except for my daughter. He brought two bouquets of flowers, one for my daughter, and one for me. At one point in the meal, my napkin fell on the floor, and when I reached down to pick it up, I noticed that they were holding hands under the table. No, I did not drop it on purpose to spy, but I might have if I’d thought of it. Seven months later, he met her at the altar where they pledged their troth.
How about you? Do you have any memories of a particular Thanksgiving Day? I’d love it if you shared it with me.