Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Reverie

We were lucky with the weather this year. Warm, sunny, perfect for being outdoors and for leaving the windows and doors open to the fresh air. I started cooking early, making pumpkin and mincemeat pies, then getting the turkey in the oven, and then moving on to cranberry sauce, my sweet potatoes/apples/cranberries casserole, and the other vegetable dishes.

I spent all day Wednesday cleaning. My intention was to clean in the morning and cook in the afternoon, but once I started I kept finding more things that needed to be done. I was in de-cluttering mode. Now if you were to look at my house you might not notice my efforts because there's a lot of stuff here! But there were corners--the corner with my son's bodybuilding trophies still waiting to be mailed when he finally settles into a new place, the corner with too many banjos (Larry has three but only uses one) and too many fireplace tools, the corner with the folding extra chairs, the corner with canned food that hadn't been taken to the cellar, the tote full of canning jars also needing to be put away--corners full of stuff needing attention.

I sorted, boxed, bagged and trashed as I went. One big bag for Goodwill, several piles to be put in the cellar and shed, some furniture re-arranged, and lots of dusting done. My allergies are suffering for it but the house looks a lot better.

All that cleaning meant that cooking was put off to the day itself. And it went so smoothly, as if I'd planned it that way in the first place. I even had time to clean the silver and sit down on the porch for a couple cups of coffee. And I went out to the gardens to pick lettuce, celery, dill and green onions for a salad, and to gather a few remaining colorful branches for a table centerpiece.

Our company arrived around 3:30--my son Derek and his family along with his son's girlfriend. I love seeing my grandchildren grow up, even though I miss the days of so many youngsters running in and out of the house, noise, mess, laughter, babies all mingling in one joyful sound. I remember when air mattresses blanketed the entire house at night, when there were piles of suitcases and boots by the door, and when breakfast had to be served in shifts to accommodate everyone. Now most of the grandchildren are driving; some have jobs and some are in college. Conversations are more fun and they are certainly a lot of help in the kitchen!

After dinner Larry lit the firepit while the kids and I cleaned up in the kitchen. This is usually the men's job, but the kids jumped in and I knew where to put everything so it made sense for me to be in there--and the work flew. We were finished in no time. I use a LOT of dishes on Thanksgiving. I like to bring out the pretty bowls, plates, and serving dishes to make the table sparkle. That means a lot of washing up, and we took out the dishwashers several years ago because vintage pieces really suffer in a dishwasher and the cleaning solution scores the glass and ruins it. But it is worth the dishwashing to see the table looking so pretty, and to see the family's enjoyment of using the special dishes.

Evening was quiet, with just Larry and me. We sat by the firepit for a bit after our company left, then went inside to take the leaves out of the table and return it to its usual size. This table is the old banquet table that belonged to my parents, the table that my 12 siblings and I would gather around at mealtimes, where we sorted laundry and did our homework. It was in many ways the center of our home, and after my parents passed on it turned out that I was the only one who had space for it. It lives comfortably in our log room, and is our gathering place for family dinners as well as the place where I do my mailings, work jigsaw puzzles--in fact, use it pretty much as it was used in my childhood.

It occurred to me later in the day that this year's Thanksgiving Day was also the anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy. I wondered how our country might have been different had he lived, how the course of history might have changed. Perhaps nothing would have been any different, but how sad that his life ended so tragically without completing his mission, and without seeing his little children grow up. In my list of things I am thankful for I included being grateful that this country had John F. Kennedy as its leader even for a brief time.

Also on my mind was my son Jon, who so enjoyed Thanksgiving and loved to come home for this holiday. He didn't come every year but when he did he was busy the entire time. The year before he passed away he was here. It was a beautiful day like yesterday, and the brothers all gathered to shoot at skeets--Aaron brought a manual skeet thing, and they all had a great time shooting the clay pigeons. Even the granddaughters tried it out. One of my favorite pictures of Jon was taken that day as he held his little granddaughter. Such memories, while painful, are also full of joy and I am very glad to have them.

I hope your Thanksgiving was one that will bring you sweet memories in the future.

Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

8 comments:

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Such a wonderful day of memory creation and remembering.
Joy

Debbie Couture said...

Memories are wonderful. Do you remember where we were when John Kennedy died? Such a sad day. I couldn't stop crying. Glad you had such a wonderful family Thanksgiving.

momalizzie said...

We had a pretty busy Thanksgiving day...washing up everything and pretending that we don't live here even for a day is very hard on the kids. I wanted to make the evening special for the people we had invited, and the house to look it's best. I was pretty embarrassed rooting through a cabinet to find some very antique pitchers that I'd forgotten I had, and couldn't wait to display them along with all the other pretty dishes I was using. They're red and yellow and reminded me of fall, so out they came to join my green tapers in crystal holders. Something I'm sure I picked up from one of your ideas! Glad your day was a great one, G-Sue!

Granny Sue said...

Debbie, I do remember. We were in music class as I recall, and the nuns sent us back to class and told us the news. Seems like we watched something on TV, but I don't remember if that was at school or at home. I remember the sadness and horror so well. At our little Catholic school it was a great shock.

Granny Sue said...

Liz, I love your house--it's home, comfortable and inviting. Anyone would love to visit there! And I bet it looked beautiful when you were finished decorating.

Granny Sue said...

Joy, do you have a Thanksgiving day in Canada? Is it the same date or different? It is a good day to focus on family and blessings, and to simply enjoy being together. No football at this house since there's no TV, although I know that for many the games are part of the celebration. I do miss watching the Macy's parade though.

Nance said...

me too, love to dig out the good dishes for the holidays. My daughter hosted this year. We all shared cooking duties tho so could carry in the food in the old favorite glass ware. To my 30 something youngest daughter, the yellow square pyrex casserole is one of the "old favorites". lol! Glad your day was good. Now to get thru Christmas and New Years : )

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Making memories........

*hugs*

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