Thanksgiving Traditions - Stories from the Attic

Its that time of year again, Thanksgiving. Time for long held family traditions that often involve a turkey with all the trimmings and family gatherings.  This year we’re having dinner with my parents, my brother and his wife and of course the kids.  The dogs will be there just in case something gets dropped on the floor and a quick, efficient clean-up is needed. We’re fortunate in not having to travel far for our celebration so we’ll miss out on all the fun at the airports that are making the news these days.

As far as Thanksgiving goes, we don’t have any particular traditions other than the turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  I’ve been seeing some Tweet messages saying they read poems and stories to launch the festivities.  One that stood out to me was a reading of the Mayflower Charter – this year being the first time with plans to make it part of tradition in that family for years to come.  Anyway, seeing all those little messages got me thinking maybe I’ve been too light with the planning for our dinners. Nah, I like things to be simple. Storytelling, sometimes the photos are hauled out of the closet to be enjoyed and just visiting over a gigantic meal that makes anyone health conscious just cringe in horror.

I’m someone who loves traditions. While I like to try new things, I don’t necessarily like them to be inserted into my favorite holidays at mealtime.  I like turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce for the Thanksgiving meal, then of course pumpkin pie (and any other desserts) for the second round.  Any variations are welcome before and after or even with but never instead of. I so look forward to this meal and this is the only time it gets cooked (well maybe once more at Christmas, though we often opt for ham on that round) so I’m a little resistant to tampering with it.

What always runs through my mind are trips to my grandmothers’ house or I should say grandmothers’ houses.  Both my grandmothers lived  just a few miles from each other in West Virginia so we often had more than one round of holiday dining and they both consisted of the foods mentioned above, usually with some extra dishes that varied from year to year.  I remember Mawmaw Rider’s house, fighting with cousins over a high chair.  It was a white, homemade kind of chair so it wasn’t the kind most of us were used to seeing and we certainly didn’t associate it with babies.  We only recognized it as a means to sit with the grown-ups, in the kitchen.  The alternative was the living room coffee table – the kids table.  That was fun too (and I can picture every detail of that little table even now since that was where I usually ended up), but I think the spirit of competition sometimes bit us pretty hard in vying for that high chair.  I don’t know what happened to that chair and my memories of it now are vague so I think it may have left the scene when most of us were still pretty young.  I just remember it being a big deal to get to sit at the grown-up table and eat, especially since only one of us kiddies seem to get the option.  I’m sure it was mostly reserved for the youngest members who weren’t yet big enough for the kiddy table, I can’t remember now.

My Mawmaw Rider’s house wasn’t all that big but it was sure cozy on the holidays.  Plus, a bonus, there was no escaping us kids when the grownups wanted to visit. We all piled into the living room, spilling over into the two adjacent bedroom doorways, to visit.  It was wall-to-wall people.  Us kids sometimes got in the middle of the floor since we weren’t above sitting or even sprawling there.

Of course the high chair and crowding in the living room aren’t my only memories but they’ll do for now.  The point is the holiday of Thanksgiving is one not to be overlooked to hurry along to Christmas.  It has a special place all it’s own and I hope you embrace it as much as we do.

December’s post will highlight my Mawmaw Kozak.  I have some special memories of Christmas that seem to center on her house and a few of her traditions.  Until then, I wish you and your family a happy, tradition-filled, Thankgiving Holiday. God bless you and yours.