We’re the collecting point for Thanksgiving this year. My mother, my daughter, two of my sibs, one with wife, the other with daughter, are all arriving sometime this week. That means we’re making space and planning meals and arranging for a card table. My family plays ‘family bridge’ when we get together. Most of us play about once a year and need lots of table talk, but it’s fun and we always laugh a lot.
Getting ready brings up lots of memories.
I remember enormous family meals in my childhood — so many people that children had a separate table.
I remember funny things from the time after I left home but before we had our own children. We had a collection of friends who got together, some traveling considerable distances. There was the year we were responsible for the dressing and had all the ingredients prepared — a couple of loaves of crumbled up stale bread, herbs mixed in a jar — and then forgot to pack them in the car before our 6 hour drive. We spent Thanksgiving morning driving around town trying to find a grocery store open and finally found some stale white bread in the drugstore that was open for emergencies. Then there was the year a friend who had just learned to cook read that massaging the turkey makes it tender. What a sight, watching him pour olive oil on the turkey and give it a sensuous massage! Then there was the year nobody could find either skewers or thread, so we sewed the dressing in with dental floss. It melted.
We’ve had many family Thanksgivings since we had children, not always together. For a few years, my husband drove to West Virginia with one child to see his mother and I stayed home with the other. We both enjoyed having a chance to spend uninterrupted time with just one child at a time. Then there were years when we were the big collecting point, like this one.
Thanksgiving always makes me think of the blessing that people like to do different things. My husband and daughter love to cook together, so they’ll be in their element making pies and fixing the big bird. I love to take the meat off the carcass when the meal is all over, sorting the white meat and dark meat for leftovers and sandwiches, dressing for reheating, bones for soup, skin for crackling, and a little bit of waste for the trash can. I’ve always enjoyed doing this — it’s a puzzle like Freecell where you start with a jumble and end with order. It also endeared me to my mother-in-law who hated the job intensely. She cooked a great turkey. Then she loved sitting back and watching me, basking in the realization that her job was already well done.
So the Thanksgiving holiday has taken many different shapes in my life, traveling or staying at home, big groups or small, all one generation or 3 to 4 generations. We gather together …