Way at the top of things I’m thankful for are my parents and the fact that I was raised in a close, strong, Christian family.
Thanksgiving Day memories involve a trip to my Grandmother’s house 60 miles away. At the wartime speed limit of 35-40 mph, that meant over an hour in the car – if we didn’t have a flat tire. For several days before the holiday, Daddy rode a bike the mile or so to his work to save the gas stamps for the trip.
Early Thanksgiving Day we would load 7 people in our 1931 Chevrolet. Four older children jammed in the back seat, the baby in front with Mother and Daddy. In the rear we carried pecan and pumpkin pies or peach cobbler Mother had baked the day before.
The table would be loaded with food, as tradition suggests. Maybe not turkey but certainly a lovely baked hen or two from Mamos’ flock. My grandmother, the aunts and my mother were outstanding cooks. It would be hard to guess just which one made the dressing or the chocolate pie.
My grandfather said a long prayer, thanking God for everything imaginable and asking his blessings on President Roosevelt and all the armed forces not able to be home. The children, the five little Aldersons and our five cousins, ate first. Our parents remembered well their own childhoods when the grownups ate first, sat around the table for a nice long visit and smoke. Then after they were finished, the children were fed what was left. In the spirit of treating the younger generation better than they had it, our parents allowed the kids to eat first. Then we went to play while the adults lingered over the dinner table as long as they liked.
An aside: When my mother became Grammy and hosted the family holiday, she deemed everyone should eat at the same time. And we did, crowded around the dining table, on card tables, TV trays, ottomans … any flat surface available.
After the grownups had eaten, the food was covered with a clean table cloth and people would drift back and nosh whenever they took a notion. Until supper was called and we all ate leftovers that had been sitting on the table since noon.
I don’t understand why no one ever got food poisoning from this practice. Maybe the difference is because rather than being bought frozen from a large super market, just that morning the main course was alive and pecking.
Before dark, we’d kiss everyone goodbye and start home, since Friday was a workday for my dad. A special day in the life of our family – well done.