Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thanksgiving - Three Generations of Celebrations

As I spend the day watching my daughter and her family prepare for the Thanksgiving Feast, it brings to mind other celebrations of the day.

My parents celebration preparations began the day before Thanksgiving when the turkey came out of the fridge and took a bath in the kitchen sink.  While under cold water the pin feathers had to be removed.  It was a cold and tedious task.
Thursday morning the work began in earnest.  Potatoes and parsnips to peel, tables to set and decorate, and green bean and sweet potato casseroles to be made.  Aunt Kathy usually made the cranberry orange relish and Aunt Ruth brought a jello mold.  There were also glass dishes of olives and pickles as well as sides of spiced peaches and spiced apple rings.  Under my grandmother's chandelier our huge dining table was transformed into a banquet.  The chandelier traveled from my grandparents home to my parents home and later to my home.  It currently resides in my brother's home.  In addition to that massive table there was, of course, always a kids table.  Both tables were decorated with candles in the shape of Pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys.  We loved playing with the candles which were never lit but saved from year to year and later they appeared on many of my Thanksgiving tables.

With time these candles became scratched and nicked but they were still dearly loved and a part of our traditions.  Using the "good" china and silverware was also a tradition and helped to make the day special for everyone.  We were taught to use the best of everything to make our guests, be they family or friends, feel special and welcome.  My mother's green and gold china was a favorite of mine and I loved setting the table for the holidays.  Just imagine a huge table covered with a white damask tablecloth and set with gleaming silver and the green and gold china.  As children our eyes sparkled with anticipation,             

This china is still in the family as in the table it was placed on.  The table has been slightly altered since few people have need or space for a table that seats 10.  The table now lives in my son's home as a coffee table.
It is a large coffee table about 45 x 60.  Great size for doing puzzles and playing games.

Until we had children, my husband and I usually went to his family or mine for the holidays.  Sometimes both one for dinner and one for dessert.  But eventually we had our own home with a dining room and the coveted chandelier of my grandparents.  My dining table was not as large as my mother's but then I didn't have 9 children,  My table had seating for six and with the addition of 2 leaves could seat ten or 12.I didn't have Aunt Kathy or Aunt Ruth to bring their offerings, so I resorted to canned cranberry sauce.  I chilled the can, opened both ends to slide it out and sliced it to make it pretty.  My china was rose and silver and my tablecloth was cotton lace but the Pilgrim and Indian candles came to the party too.  We usually did about a 20 lb turkey but I usually did mine in a Nesco Roaster to save room in the oven for sides and rolls.  Our family tradition was that I always forgot the time and scorched the bottoms of the brown n serve rolls.  The last Thanksgiving we had as an entire family my kids had a $5.00 bet that I would burn the rolls.

Although they are not candles, Pilgrims and Indians still grace the table in my daughter's home.  They are making 2 smaller turkeys.  One in the oven and one in the smoker.  We will share the day with another military family and a single soldier.  The typical sides of green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows will be present along with homemade cranberry orange relish and homemade rolls.  Mackenzie is doing the mashed potatoes while Brigid is making place favors.

I would say that through the generations there is more that is alike than there are things that are different.  Yet another blessing to be thankful for.