Thanksgiving Memories from Ruby Lane Shops
inNovember 20, 2012 - 12:23pm
In 1965 my husband was a student at Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine and as we were from Tampa, Florida we were unable to go home for the holiday; so we were going to be spending it alone without any family. I asked my husband if he knew of any others who would not be going home for Thanksgiving and he said there were several single guys he knew of whom would not be able to make the trip home either. I suggested he ask them all to come and share the holiday with us because I loved to cook and cooking a holiday meal for 10 is no more difficult than cooking for two. The guys asked what they could bring; so we had them bring cranberry sauce, wine, and rolls. By sharing with others we made what could have been a lonely, homesick Thanksgiving a joy shared with new friends.
Twenty years later my daughter was a student at Auburn and I had taken a traveling job assignment to be with her for a few months and it fell over Thanksgiving and we repeated the Thanksgiving sharing in the same way from 20 years before.
This story is not about past Thanksgivings but this current Thanksgiving. My family has much to be thankful for. Last April, my brother's leukemia went out of control. He needed a stem cell transplant. He was one of the many Americans without health insurance. He needed a matching stem cell donor. He needed a matching K cell donor. He needed a caregiver for the 100+ days of the transplant journey. He needed someone to care for his kids while he was 50 miles away for a 30+ stay at the hospital. He needed parents in his community to provide meals and car trips and blood to the transplant hospital. He needed God's grace for things to go smoothly. He has received all those things...health insurance from the US govt., a world class transplant hospital MD Anderson, matching donor from my sister, matching K cell from his daughter, loving caregiver 24/7 in his wife, kids loving caregivers in his sister and mother in law. Support and a blood drive from his church and community. And much grace from the Lord. He will be sitting around with his family this Thanksgiving eating his traditional turkey right out of the smoker - a Texas treat. Sometimes its just the everyday things that are so special.
There is one Thanksgiving that always comes to my mind as this time of year is upon us and plans of the turkey dinner start coming together. It was many decades ago when I was a little girl and Brownie cameras were used to take black and white photos. Grandma had been working all day on the dinner and had, as usual, set a beautiful table which also included those cute little plastic salt dips for the carrot & celery sticks. We gathered around the table filled with mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and yams and Grandma brought out the large bird, perfectly roasted to a golden brown. We leaned in and smiled for the camera so the Kodak moment would be caught forever. Grace was said and Grandpa took the knife to the turkey, through the crispy skin into the almost raw breast meat! We all laughed but the disappointment was hard to ignore. Dinner was put on hold while the turkey was put back in the roaster until it was FULLY cooked. That faded photo is still around somewhere but it isn’t near as vivid as the memory of that day.
I recently heard a pastor say in his sermon that studies into human behavior have shown we all have pretty much the same level of happiness throughout our lives. There was only one thing proven to increase it: gratitude. The more thankful a person was, the happier he or she became. I thought about when I realized as an adult that nothing happens in this world without the help of another person. From the moment of our conception, to when we die and need our remains and estate handled, someone is always taking time out of their life or money out of their pocket to help us. When I became a more grateful and appreciative person the increase in friends in my life as a result of my showing it was enormous. It improved my professional life as well. So for me, Thanksgiving Day is every day. When I came across this porcelain figurine in my late mother’s possessions of two children praying and being thankful, I knew I had to keep it. It’s my Facebook cover photo on my author page that I’ve yet to change. It says it all. Even more so on our official Thanksgiving.
Jo Maeder, scribe and owner of Mama Jo's House of Dolls
Mother's Thanksgiving Punch Bowl
Although just a farmer's wife in the mountains, my Mother always enjoyed a fancy table on special occasions such as the holidays. She had her best dishes stored in cupboards, only to be used during those times. Every Thanksgiving, a huge glass pedestal punch bowl was the center piece on the table. Filled with fruit salad, not punch. That glass punch bowl was a festival of colors due to the many types of sliced fruits, with cubes of Jello for a special treat floating among the fruit, sometimes miniature marshmallows too. The glass punch cups served as fruit bowls, even the punch ladle was used to serve the fruit salad. There were many that would come to our home in those days. No invitation needed, the extended family always knew Thanksgiving was the time to gather at our old farm table.
The punch bowl and most everyone that would attend my Mother's Thanksgiving get-togethers are gone now, replaced by memories held dear. The huge bowl of fruit salad can been seen when ever I look through photos of those Thanksgiving meals. I am thankful for family memories and punch bowls filled with fruit salad. And I am thankful Thanksgiving is a holiday we all share, for without it, so many wonderful times would not have been.
How Not to Carve a Turkey!
Dad did not have to carve that year! You have heard the expression that some floors are so clean you can eat off them? Mom’s was and we did. Once the turkey was rearranged on the platter, it was served, eaten and no one knew except us. I still use the chipped Haviland platter every year.
The Thanksgiving that changed my life
My birthday is November 22nd, so about every 6 years, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving. So Thanksgiving becomes doubly festive, with lots of great food, friends and A BIRTHDAY CAKE or even better, FLAN!! This makes Thanksgiving extra special for me.
Thanksgiving Dinner has always been my favorite meal to prepare. The kids always made numerous trips to the kitchen savoring all the wonderful smells, especially the big turkey baking in the oven. Our youngest son, Roni, was always the most eager for dinner to be served. He would eat nothing all day just waiting for his favorite meal of the year. Once dinner was ready to be served, he found the biggest platter and piled it high with turkey, dressing with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet peas and a dinner roll, and then disappear. He found a quiet place so he could savor every bite in private. This routine continued even after he was grown, married and had children of his own. Every Thanksgiving he did his best to be at our table for the occasion. He passed away 23 years ago and every Thanksgiving since then has been an extra special day not only of thanksgiving for all our blessings, but in remembrance of Roni, and telling stories of how much he enjoyed that day. Once the aromas start drifting throughout the kitchen, my mind drifts back to those many years ago remembering so much excitement and I am thankful for the wonderful memories.
Mr. Giuliano....A HOLIDAY TRADITION
During my Mom's hospital stay in the early 1940's her room mate Julia was quite ill. Mom tried to assist her as much as possible. While her husband was leaving he would throw a flower to his wife Julia and to my Mom with this he would blow them both kisses! Julia died soon after.
He showered Mom with his appreciation by visiting our family every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter for many years until he was unable to do so anymore. He waited to see the lights on at our home early in the morning across the parkway and large park in a neighboring town. He would then get his son to drive over to give us a gift of home-made wine. I still remember the shade of dark red. I have never had wine that good again!
He later made a trip back to his home country, Italy, and brought home a new bride. He then increased his home-made gifts to also include pasta, Easter bread and Italian pie.
Mr. Giuliano was a neighborhood Cobbler in Mt. Vernon, NY.
One Thanksgiving my mother insisted on cooking turkey (father had always done it in the past) - she knew just how to do it so it would be ready by noon. She got up at 8:00 AM, took the turkey out of the freezer, wrapped it up in foil, placed in a roaster and put in the oven at 300 degrees. Pulled it out at 11:45AM so it could be carved and placed on the table. Well as you can guess we did not eat turkey for Thanksgiving and ever since that day, she has not been allowed near a turkey.
Suellen Bush Louden
After years of celebrating holidays the traditional way, I have earned the right to do my own thing, so I was delighted when my best friend suggested we find a store that provides fully cooked Thanksgiving dinners. We agreed to split the cost and pick up the dishes first thing on Wednesday.
I was even more excited when, a day later, she said, “I've been thinking. Since we're picking up the dinner the day before, why don't we eat it that day? Then, the next morning we can watch the Macy's parade at our leisure.” So that is what we are doing. If this seems sacrilegious to you, please keep reading.
We are not denigrating the holiday. In fact, we will probably spend more time in prayerful gratitude than you, because you will be slaving in the kitchen/corralling the children/shooing the dog from the turkey/making sure that Uncle Henry stays sober/watching a dinner that took days to prepare be gobbled up in ten minutes.
I'll make you a deal. You grant us the right to celebrate in our own way, and we will include you in our prayers. Never mind. We'll include you, anyway. Want to join us next year?
Not your Typical Thanksgiving Tale - A Life Lesson
On my way to adulthood there was one family Thanksgiving that stands out among all the others.
About 20 family and friends gathered for the feast. As usual, there was lively discussion all around and as the elders reminisced, I piped up and said, "do you remember my albino parakeet?" That was followed by dead silence.
My brother finally said something - "Are you nuts? What albino parakeet?" and I said, "You know, the one that was all white with red eyes?" No one said anything but they were all looking at me as though I was crazy.
And then came the epiphany!
That albino parakeet was soooo real to me but no one else remembered it. I remembered going with my father to the pet store to buy it and I remember tending to it in my room for the couple of weeks it lived. I was told that it died because my room was cold and drafty which was not good for any bird, let alone one with greater needs. And therein lies the tale. For everyone else it happened so long ago and it was just a 'blip' of time for them and it never got imprinted in their memory. But for me it was different. It was then too it all fell into place why my brother and I were so very different in our points of view of our parents and our lives growing up in general.
I think every child eventually learns that their reality might not be the same as that of anyone else - even from those closest to us growing up in the 'same' environment. We are witnesses to our own experiences and what I see from my angle may be quite different than what you are able to see. Or what you remember. Or forget. It's that 'one degree of separation' thing. Experiencing it this way was life changing for me.
I guess we all learn this lesson in our own time and place, but for me, it is forever linked to that Thanksgiving 40 or so years ago. Little did we know that this would be the last large family gathering as folks died or moved to distant places or otherwise were unable to assemble that way ever again.
Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday. Our Thanksgiving was made extra special in 2011. My Uncle Jack, my father's brother, offered to give me a set of china the summer before Thanksgiving of that year. I knew immediately how special it was - and that is what made the Thanksgiving of 2011 stand out. You see, this set of china not only belonged to my paternal Grandmother, but was a gift to her from my Uncle, her son, while he served with the Marines in Korea during the Korean War. He bought the china overseas and shipped it to her. He chose Noritake China. It is marked Japan/4985/Goldkin. I know how special it was to my Uncle and Grandmother, and I feel so honored to have it on my family table.
It is such a pleasure to set my Thanksgiving table with my Grandmother's china. Knowing it was sent to her as a gift from her son while he served our country overseas, means the world to me.
I wish all of you the most wonderful Thanksgiving,
You can also visit Ruby Lane's Thanksgiving Squidoo lens to read Thanksgiving stories from Ruby Lane staff. Visit Giving Thanks - A Family Affair