Thanksgiving mornings when I was growing up were usually a rush shortly after sunrise for my family to pile into my dad's cold work van or our car so he could deliver my mom, my younger sister and myself down to my grandparents' house. He'd usually have some work-related job to do until lunchtime, so he'd drop us off and head back home to do some wood-working thing in the basement. Sometimes I think that was what the men in the family did anyway to stay out of the house and away from the womenfolk so they weren't asked for any help. My grandpa and uncles could usually be found piddling around down in the junk yard or in the mule lot. :)
In the meantime, my mom would set to work with my grandma and my aunt in the kitchen, preparing the Thanksgiving meal which always consisted of the majority of items in the picture above- turkey, dressing, gravy with bits of turkey in it and sometimes there were bits of giblets (blech). Homemade mashed potatoes and green beans, brown and serve rolls, and can shaped cranberry gel as well as the other kind. My mom and aunt would sometimes make a separate pan of oyster dressing for them and my one uncle who loved it. And then there was my mom's pumpkin chiffon pies. She still makes those and OH MY! They are goo--oood!
My sister and I were usually underfoot, but Grandma would often give us the job of taste-testing the dressing once they had it mixed up and we'd basically stuff our faces while sitting in front of the boob tube watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade near the potbellied stove, keeping toasty. When mealtime came, everyone gathered around, grown-ups at the big table and us kids at the old rickety card table...the same one that I would try to build houses of cards on.
I don't remember any tradition of going around and saying what we were thankful for, but to my way of viewing it, I think it was because we all knew we were thankful for each other and for time together. It was a given, we spent every Saturday at my grandparents' house anyway, but Thanksgiving was a warm time that was filled with family and good food and lots of voices talking over one another.
Afterwards, when it got dark, Grandpa would flip the switch on the outdoor Christmas lights and we'd all gather out there, bundled up, with cold breath and warm hearts, staring in awe at the multicolored lights that ran the length of the junkyard fence on either side of the house and the old plastic lighted hoot owls in the tree and Santa in his sleigh with his reindeer on the roof. (My mom made Grandpa a wooden painted set with her jig saw). I have no doubt it's where my love of Christmas and decorating with lots of bright lights comes from. It was magical and inspiring and made me appreciate my life, my family and the love of those around me.
A lot has changed though, since those bygone holidays. Now my mom does Thanksgiving at her house and I go up so that she and my sister and I can put together the meal at my parents' house. Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Kenny and Aunt Carol and Aunt Debbie Roses and Aunt Faye are no longer with us. This year is especially hard after losing Debbie, but we're gathering together and we'll remember them with all the love in our hearts and give thanks for all the times we had with them, as well as give thanks for each other- even if we don't say it....we don't have.
We KNOW it.
Hope your Thanksgiving is FILLED with festive holiday gatherings, lots of good food and the abundance of LOVE that surrounds you. I'm thankful for those of you who take the time to come by and visit my blog. There might not ever be a lot of chatter on the comments, but I do know when I've had visitors and I'm so VERY thankful and appreciative that you've been here.
Happy Thanksgiving- Have a wonderful day with your loved ones and enjoy this day of rest!