Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Memories

There are only a few Thanksgiving Days that stand out in my memory. One occurred the year that I was in the 3rd grade - 1943. We came from Ralston to have Thanksgiving dinner with Uncle Norman and Aunt Cindy and baby Newell in the tiny house that had been Uncle Orville's and would later become Dad and Mother's shop. The Sorensens were living there temporarily until their new house could be built east of Grandma & Grandpa Wasden's house. We were pretty cramped to add our family of 7 to that tiny space, but I recall it being a good day. The excitement began when Dad and Norman began pounding in the stakes and stretching the string to indicate where our new house would be built, east of the house they were living in.

The next Thanksgiving that stands out in my mind so clearly happened on a November day that was a perfect Indian Summer day. When the delicious dinner was finished, we children set the dishes aside, and trekked the half mile or so down to the Shoshoni River. The day was so warm, and we revelled in our escape, and the fact that winter hadn't come yet. We lingered in the sun, but clouds began to form, and we hurried back home, full of fresh air and happy spirits. That was a memory to cherish as the cold, snowy, wind-blown days of winter settled in.

Thanksgiving was special in many ways. We were almost self sustaining on the farm, but some things had to be purchased. Thanksgiving and Christmas were usually the only days we had such special foods as celery, yams, cranberries, and grapes. Mother would often make mince meat (see Ann's recipe), and her squash pie always tasted as good as pumpkin. Sometimes carrot pudding might be part of the dessert, although that could be reserved for Christmas. The first turkey we ever had was during my senior year in high school, and we decided it was drier and not as tasty as the big baking hens that Mother usually cooked for us. The food was cooked on the old coal range, which Mother had mastered so completely that her baked things, including bread was delicious. We would work all morning preparing the meal, carefully set the table as if for Sunday dinner, including paper napkins to the left of the forks. We tore the loaves of bread for the dressing - never stuffing, because it was seasoned, moistened with chicken broth and home-churned butter, and baked in a big baking pan in the oven apart from the big chicken. The yams, too, were baked in the oven. Russet potatoes were peeled, boiled, and mashed by hand with cream for the right texture. The table would almost groan under the food, and we gathered around it, giving thanks for all that we had. It was a wonderful sight to look around the table at our beloved family members - forgetting for the day any squabbles that we might have had. We had and have much to be thankful for as we contemplate the close association we have had over the intervening years. Perhaps the reason Dwight's Penrose pictures are so precious is that they evoke a simpler, more basic life which wasn't constantly shifting and changing, and include images of the people who were most important to us. We are thankful for all!


Ann said...

It is fun to read about Thanksgiving from Elizabeth's perspective. As each of you older siblings left home, the holiday changed for those of us still at home. Sometimes the day before was spent watching the headlights as they came down off the hill after turning off the highway and hoping beyond hope that it was a brother or sister coming home for the holiday. There were not alot of those visits for the holidays. Going to school and taking care of new families didn't allow for the kind of travel we now sometimes take for granted. The electric stove simplified the process of cooking, but Mother stayed true to the food that she had always prepared. It was wonderful - and always such a treat. How many of you still make the sage dressing? That is the only dressing my kids will eat. How many of you still cook fresh cranberries to eat with your turkey, and are the sweet potatoes are still a Thanksgiving treat.
What warm memories of sweet times, then and now. Elizabeth is right, we all do have so much to be thankful for - and on my list, among so many other things, is all of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Judy said...

Someone said that remembering is to live the moment again. What was written here and other family blogs, is to experience once more the goodness that we had. That helps us to recognize what we have now.
And as is said at the end of our prayers, "Amen".