Thanksgiving is for me, the most treasured family memory I can recall as a child. Not Christmas, not my birthday, not summer vacation, but Thanksgiving! Growing up, when Thanksgiving came around my mom always made sure we got to Grandma’s house! Have you noticed in the media when they report on all the people travelling home for the holiday they always refer to the destination as “getting to Grandma’s house”? That’s pretty interesting!
I’m told by my Uncle Snack that they didn’t always have Thanksgiving because they just couldn’t afford it. But Grandma wasn’t happy about that and so she did odd jobs in the neighborhood, mostly cleaning for others or helping a neighboring farmer butcher, and she saved her nickels and dimes and dollars and one year proudly announced, “We’re having Thanksgiving and I’m buying a turkey!” And so the tradition began. All of her children, and their children and eventually their children, came home every year for Thanksgiving. It became that popular that as the grandkids grew older we would even bring our girlfriends and boyfriends and even their extended family along. And it always included people outside the family who didn’t have a place to go. That tradition continues to today.
We grandkids would play outside while the food was being prepared. Sometimes we would play on grandpa’s day bed which was stacked with comforters (thick blankets) and had been dragged out of the kitchen to make room and put outside along the wall of the summer house. There were no adults around so we’d imagine it was a stagecoach and hitch up some “pretend” horses and while wrapped in those warm blankets give that bed a wild ride!
With three big Maple trees surrounding grandma’s house the huge yellow leaves were plentiful, so we’d pack some burlap bags full of leaves, climb a tree, and pour them down on our cousins as confetti as they conducted pretend weddings. But no kissing cousins! Ugh!
The cousins loved the summer house because Grandma turned it into our own special dining room at Thanksgiving time. She would set up a few card tables trimmed with second hand china and bone handled utensils that were dangerously sharp! We sat stoically around the tables and didn’t say a peep so we could hear Uncle Snack say the Thanksgiving prayer in the adjacent room before gorging on bowls full of our own share of home made stuffing and turkey with all the trimmings.
Every corner of the little quaint house and summer house was packed full of people when everyone sat down to eat. Pop would sit at the head table and be served first like a king (as if the whole thing was his idea) but Grandma didn’t mind. That’s the way she was. The aroma of the delicious food hung in the air and your taste buds would work overtime drooling over the desserts.
Here’s an entry from Grandma’s diary on Thanksgiving day November 22, 1962. “Thanksgiving, Clear and Windy. I put the turkey in the oven at 7:30am. Eddie came first on his pony. We had a grand time! Lots to eat. Turkeys were real tasty. Warren & Larry brought Thelma & Betsy (their girlfriends). Snack said the prayer, It was inspiring. I’m a lucky girl! Thanksgiving is great! Thank you Lord. Thought for today: Keep calm and patient & clear headed, for trouble will pass in course of time, and the sum of truth & justice, peace & joy will again come shining through.”
Can you see Grandma’s faith and gratitude shining through? Her advice at the end is timeless. It didn’t take long to outgrow her little house and so we jumped from one Aunt or Uncle’s house to another for a few years but when a local park was built which had a sizeable lodge that could hold all of us, the decision was made to rent it for the gathering. That was almost 40 years ago and upwards of 70 relatives and friends still gather each year in Grandma’s name to celebrate God’s goodness to us in this great land.
Like Grandma said, “Thanksgiving is great! Thank You Lord, I’m a lucky girl.” In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Next story “Grandma’s Country Christmas” below: