When I was a little kid, my family would always descend on my grandparents' house for Thanksgiving. Grandmother would spend two days cooking a dozen dishes for everyone, and she'd always have a few more things to do when we arrived. So the rest of the adults hung out in the living room, watching the parade or football, while Mary and I set the fancy dining table and Grandmother cooked.
Anyway, about 10 years ago, I wrote out a Thanksgiving memory for Grandmother. Although it sounds a little flowery now, it still paints a picture for me. Here it is, as I sent it to her then:
"The table was set. A rich lace draped over the expansive oak
table. Dangling folds of the cloth flirted with the thick bayberry carpet
under softened lights and glowing candles. A spray of long lilies opened
above the table, and eight full settings with Wednesday's polished silver
saved each guest's reservation.
Platters of spinach and cheese casserole, sweet potatoes, and
French rolls surrounded the settings with bowls of ripe olives, tomato
aspic, and dressing. Another leaf in the table provided room for the
Grandmother's voice roamed the kitchen as she pulled a pecan pie
from the oven. Stuffy from the work, the kitchen harbored the scent of a
holiday. Setting the pecan delight close to a chilled key lime pie and a
pumpkin pie, she spoke louder as the whir of the can opener produced the
cranberry sauce. With the ease of years of practice, Grandmother
persuaded one of the kids to put the sauce on the table while she got the
butter out of the refrigerator. Never missing a beat of the conversation
with her scarcely seen son, she shooed the cat from the dining room while
magically creating room for the bowl of cranberry sauce that balanced
precariously on the edge of the feast.
Seven people trailed into the room, commenting on the food and the
cat, who watched form the staircase. While everyone settled into their
seats, the children struggled to remember all of mom's Emily Post
After grace, clattering utensils began the indulgence. Diets,
popular in the family, drifted, forgotten. Issues and trifles of daily
family life slipped under the lace linen, and before everyone reverted to
their usual directions, the family came together.
Such a feast could only last in memory. Hugs and thanks given,
the family separated again. Over the years they came together again, but
the times together dwindled. After the hostess retired to Florida, the
apron she wore hung, forgotten.”
While D.J. G-mom did return from Florida, and I’ve enjoyed many more holiday moments with my family, those early Thanksgivings will always be bright memories for me. I hope that John and I can create some moments like that for our family some day.