When I was a little kid I would eagerly wake up on Thanksgiving morning, turn on the tv and await the arrival of Santa Claus and the Christmas season at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. After breakfast and the end of the parade my parents would dress up and dress me and my brother up in jacket and tie and my sister in a nice dress. We all then went to my grandparents on my fathers side, Mom Mom and Pop Pop for Thanksgiving dinner with my Aunt Barb, Aunt Ellie and Aunt Harriet and all my cousins some of who I liked alot, some of who I liked….all of who I saw too few of since they were Jehovah’s Witnesses and Thanksgiving being the only holiday we all celebrated. It was also “Surprise Day” on which all the kids received presents.
However I think my favorite part of the day was piling up all the leaves from the forest at the bottom of the hill that was behind their house, going to the top of the hill, which looked so big when I was a child, and running down to jump in them. All the cousins used to do that along with Judy Happle, the girl who lived across from my grandparents. My cousins used to tease me by saying she was my girlfriend which I would vehemently deny but truth be told, she was a cute dark haired girl, with hair cut in a “pixie cut” and had a beautiful elfin heart shaped face and I really DID like her. Our parents, being the smart parents they were and blessed with common sense, would pack play clothes. The dress up clothes were just for our grandparents sake. Once they saw how nice we cleaned up we were allowed to change and go out to play.
Mom Mom made turkey with all the trimmings. Walking into the house and saying “hi” to Pop Pop, sitting in his overstuffed rocker with the ships helms on either side supporting the arms, the house would smell sooo good. The kitchen was far too small to seat everybody, at least 15 people, before my cousins Tracy and Bonnie were born, so a long table was set up in the living room, though quarters were still tight as Mom Mom’s Wurlitzer organ still took up a lot of room. Another favorite thing to do was pick leftovers off the turkey with my Dad in the kitchen until we got yelled at. For dessert Mom Mom made the BEST Carrot Cake….so moist and delicious and NO raisins….it was wonderful.
Everything was closed back then…. I don’t even remember grocery stores being open then. This was a time when the father worked and the mother stayed home to care for the kids. I don’t even remember the local gas stations being open….maybe the ones on the interstate.
So on that day, families got to be together….and we enjoyed being together…at least the kids did. I don’t remember tension or grownups arguing either. We as children were brought up being taught that fighting and that kind of behavior was not tolerated on the holidays. And woe be it unto the child who upset Mom Mom or Pop Pop and disturbed the peace of the day. You were going to be nice, polite and on your best manners if it killed you…..because if you weren’t chances are your parents WOULD kill you when they got you home….And you know what? It was nice….and it has made for some of my most pleasant Thanksgiving memories….
Nowadays my Thanksgiving traditions consist of getting up early in the morning and going to Starbucks in Newtown PA. Though I am against shopping on Thanksgiving Day and feel somewhat guilty about Starbucks people working and though I would not be unhappy if they did close to give the staff the day to spend with family, I AM extremely grateful that they ARE open and I can get a quick breakfast, rather than having to cook at home. As a token of my gratitude I make it a point to leave a large tip and thank every barista working (thanks again Anna, Gretchen and Matt).
I then go home and prepare the turkey. We have a deep fried turkey. I have a great electric Masterbuilt Turkey Fryer that my wife got me from QVC about 3 years ago and have cooked the turkey this way ever since. It’s pretty much goof proof (except if you forget to push “Start” like I did this morning) uses peanut oil and will do a 14 pound turkey from beginning through the resting period in 2 hours and 15 minutes. While I’m cooking the turkey I’ll sit on the porch and drink hot spiced mulled cider with my cinnamon stick while listening to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” on WXPN. I used to listen to WYSP but then they went to talk radio and, though I love and respect Pierre Robert dearly, I find that in my late 50’s WMMR has gotten a little too headbanging for my Thanksgiving Day listening….. In addition to “Alice’s Restaurant” Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving” has become another must listen tradition as well…..
My brother will come over for dinner at 2:00pm with my wife, son and mother in law. He will then play video games with his nephew and sleep off the turkey coma on the couch…
This evening we’ll go over to my father’s for dessert and to turn in our Pollyanna slips for our gift giving at Christmas Eve….
Not a big Thanksgiving as Thanksgivings go but a satisfying one for me none the less……..