This time of year most people start to plan their Thanksgiving feast. That one day a year when not only is it okay to stuff yourself to the gills, so much that you either puke or pass out, it is expected and considered offensive if you don’t in some families. By now most probably know where they will be on Thursday, and what dish they’ll be bringing to dinner. Typically there is some sort of TRADITION that is followed each year.
From the time I can remember I grew up having Thanksgiving dinner at noon on Thursday around an enormous table in my Granny’s dining room. Everyone that could come that year would gather around. It was very common for there to be at least one person that wasn’t a family member in the traditional sense to be at the table as well. We welcomed all, and if someone didn’t have a place to go they came to Granny’s.
I remember there being so much food that as a kid it made me giddy. The turkey was the biggest I had ever seen, the potatoes perfectly fluffed, and the gravy smooth as silk. We had cranberry salads, copper penny salad, marinated vegetable salads, and lettuce salad. There were sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and green bean casserole with fried onions on top and freshly risen dinner rolls. Then there were pies. My Granny is the original Queen of Pies (now my mother has taken over that role, I suspect one day it will be me, as the throne goes…) Even if you don’t like pie; you’d like my Granny’s.
Gramps would carve the turkey. Dinner was more formal than Thanksgiving is in my house today. We would peacefully and graciously pass each dish to the next person. The silver was placed perfectly and the napkin was tucked discreetly in your lap. You said “please” and “thank you” and you tried every dish, at least one bite.
After dinner the kids would usually go to the basement. There was a pool table, a Ping-Pong table, and shuffleboard. But my very favorite thing to do was sit at the computer, and play games on the Apple II E. It was probably only one game…and after awhile you’d get a headache from the flickering green screen.
The women would start the Christmas decorating and the men would watch whatever game was on from the back of their eyelids. Then in a few hours we’d drag all that food out again and start all over, this time we’d eat cold turkey sandwiches. It was heaven.
A lot has changed over the years from the time we had dinners at Granny’s. For one, the house has been sold. Gramps is no longer with us, and Granny is in her last years. The family is a little more scattered around, and we aren’t always able to get everyone together every year.
I host the dinner at my house now. Mom and I, and whoever else wants to pitch in, make the food on Wednesday. We have the same basic menu we’ve always had, why change a good thing? We spend the afternoon and evening playing games.
I have so many fond memories and know my kids are making them too. My Granny isn’t able to remember a lot of things. Last year she was concerned and told my mother that she just couldn’t do the dinner. As of last year it had been about 20 years since she’d had a Thanksgiving meal at her house. Her mind gets stuff mixed up now.
I have the wonderful memories of dinner at her house. I can smell the turkey basting, still. I can hear her laugh as she throws her head back and whips the potatoes. I can see her take charge of the kitchen, all of her 4’11” and 110 pounds. I can remember her reminding me that the knife and spoon go on the right. I can still feel her push the black olives on each of my fingers, as she smiled knowing I’d bite each one. I can see the pickled “baby corns” I knew she put on the relish try just for me. It’s all still there, each smell, look, laugh, and taste. This is my most fond memory of my little Granny.