Growing up I cannot remember having a Thanksgiving Dinner anyplace else but my maternal Grandparents. There was no choice…no invitations ever went out it was just expected that you would be there. It was the same with Christmas Dinner.
I don’t have any memories of a holiday dinner in my own home. Confirmation dinners or Baptism dinners and maybe an Easter dinner or two but not Thanksgiving or Christmas.
No one could make stuffing (or dressing if you choose to call it that) like my grandmother, it had giblets and apples and raisins. It was my favorite…that and some dark turkey meat and a mound of mashed potatoes along with some dill pickles! If you helped to set the serving table you could snitch some pickles…taste testing of course.
The serving table was the large yellow metal table with about three leaves in the heart of the kitchen.
Grandma had a large farm kitchen. As you came in the doorway the huge fridge sat alone. There was a spot for someone to sit in between the fridge and the massive red countertop that held the sink. The table sat in front of the plants…off to the right of the plants was a huge pantry off to the left was a storage area and a private bathroom. On the other wall was the stove, I remember when it was just a stove…it eventually became a stove, countertop and cupboards. Chairs would be lined up in the area behind the table along the plant tables on the wall covered with windows that faced south. Grandma always had something blooming. The Aunts would line up on those chairs and watch the goings on in the kitchen. Mostly they gossiped.
I was a dish washer. It seemed like I washed dishes all afternoon long. I was the oldest grandchild. This was before automatic dishwashers…not that my Grandparents would have had one anyways. There would be about 40 people give or take a few babies. That was a lot of dishes. The men would set up card tables in the living room and the dining room right after dinner and play Whist. The women just occupied the kitchen…they fed little ones and occasionally hauled someone off to Grandma and Grandpa’s bedroom to change someone’s diapers.
I always wanted to be home before dark, but there was the inevitable “supper” after the big dinner and pie and coffee. I would put my coat on and sit in the living room right in front of the television to watch The Wizard of Oz. Of course I never got to see it all. It was always interrupted by the ride home…25 - 30 minutes that is about how long it took to get home. I remember sitting in the back seat peaking over the front seat wondering why we couldn’t go faster.
Summer of 1952, I was almost 1 year old. That is my Grandmother Elsie and her Mother In Law my Great Grandmother Hatwig. I was their first…the first Grandchild and the first Great Grandchild.
Today as I ready a few things for Thanksgiving, I wonder how my Grandmother did it. She must have been exhausted.