The moment you walked into Grandmother’s house the wonderful aroma of baking turkey and pies assailed your senses. Grandmother had been cooking for days to have the pies ready and the turkey had been in the oven since 2:00 in the morning.
The turkey came out of the small oven about 11:00 so she could put the dressing in. The turkey was taken off the bones and after the dressing was baked they both went back in the oven to stay warm until time to serve dinner.
If we arrived early enough I would make sure that the giblets that had cooked with the turkey were not placed in the dressing. I would grab them as they came out of the oven and eat them.
When I walked into the kitchen Grandmother would be wearing her best dress and the ever present apron to keep her dress clean. She would be washing dishes as she worked because of the lack of counter space in the kitchen.
The large table that sat in the kitchen would already be filling up with pies, salads and vegetable dishes as each family arrived. Her kitchen looked like a picture out of a painting.
Grandmother always made a mincemeat pie. No one else wanted the mince meat pie so it was just for Grandmother and me. I would have a piece of pumpkin with dinner and then before we went home I had a piece of the mincemeat with Grandmother. It was our special time together as we ate the pie.
Thanksgiving at my Grandmother Pearls, was all about family and togetherness. No one cared if the little house was wall to wall people; it only made it more fun. When we were all there for a holiday meal there could be 30 people in the little house.
The bed in her bedroom (which should have been the dining room) had been taken down early in the morning. Her bedroom was divided from the living room large archway. The first table would already be set up where her bed usually was.
Each family brought a card table and chairs and added them to the long table that was already up. Once all of the tables were set up from the dining room into the living room, tablecloths were placed on them and the chairs put in place.
The girl cousins were always asked to set the table for the adults, but there was not enough room at the long table for the kids so we had to eat wherever we could find a place to sit.
When everyone had arrived the food was placed on the long table and the kids were allowed to fill their plates and then the adults sat down for a great family meal. There would be at least 20 adults sitting around the tables.
There would be my Grandparents and their 4 children along with their spouses. Each sibling had 4 kids and some of their kids were old enough to sit at the big table, but I was never old enough to sit there before we lost Grandmother.
My Mom was the baby of the family and she was 8 years younger than the sister that was just above her. Her brother was married by the time she was 10 and she was an aunt shortly after that. Some of my cousins were almost old enough to be my parents, and I thought they were aunts and uncles because they had kids just a little younger than me.
My uncle Archie, who was married to Mom’s sister, was as bad as my dad when it came to teasing so going back to the table for seconds was always like an obstacle course. Both he and my Dad would not let you reach by them with out pinching or tickling you.
I don’t know how many plates were tipped and spilled on the table because these two couldn’t leave the children alone. The question is who were the real children?
One year after dinner when my sister was still little uncle Archie caught her sucking her thumb. He told her she shouldn’t do that and she just gave him her stubborn look and continued to suck on her thumb.
He asked her to come to him because he wanted to show her something and she reluctantly went to him. He raised one of his hands up in front of her face and showed her his index finger that was cut off at the first knuckle. Her eyes grew large and she looked at him with a question in her eyes.
Uncle Archie said to her, “Do you know what happened to this finger?” She shook her head no because the thumb was still in her mouth. He said, “I lost the end of this finger because I sucked my finger when I was little and it fell off.”
The truth was; his brother had dared him to stick his finger in a hole on the windmill as the inside pipe went up and down. He put his index finger in the hole and the pipe cut it off at the first knuckle when it came back down.
Her eyes got really big and she looked at the finger again and then she jerked the thumb out of her mouth and quickly looked at it to be sure it was still all there. I don’t think she ever put it back in her mouth again.
Thanksgiving Day at Grandmother’s house was always like a Norman Rockwell painting with a few devilish characters thrown in for good measure. It was the best time of our lives, and we knew it, because we were together at Grandmother’s. To contact Sandy: [email protected]