Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Comes First

Our contribution to Suldog's Thanksgiving Comes First campaign - C & P

To every thing there is a season.
Ecclesiastes 3:1


I think it's the smells that I remember best: cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin, roasting turkey and baking bread, a whiff of onion and sage, a note of coffee, and all of that floating above the faintest hint of fresh floor wax. If there is a heaven and if I should go there, perhaps it might smell something like that.

But I'm getting ahead of the story.


All Wednesday morning we watched the clock. A half-day: 11:45 could not come soon enough. Our teachers taught us poker-faced, pretending it was a school day like any other. For our part, we pretended to work as we counted down the minutes to the bell. They couldn't fool us in any case. We caught them sneaking their own looks at the clock.

The bell still echoed as the school doors burst open and we poured into the street. Slowly, I walked home, savoring my freedom, shuffling and crunching through errant drifts of leaves. The gray November sky hung low over trees that had given up their October brilliance for muted brown, maroon, and mustard. The air was sharp and carried the musty scent of fallen apples.

My mother practically met me at the door with a bucket and some rags.

Christopher, I need you to scrub the baseboards.


It never occurred to me that this was all a ruse: a way to keep me quiet, out of the kitchen, and to get some work done in the bargain. We were having no guests. We were going to Nana's for Thanksgiving. But children don't question these things. I set to work.

The house seemed warmer than usual. It was, of course: partly from the oven and simmering saucepans, partly from the alluring aroma of baking pies rising on humid air. Still, the prospect of a fine Thanksgiving dinner filled my father with an uncharacteristic and expansive good cheer. He would bake pie after pie, tapping out rhythms on the mixing bowl with his wedding band, filling the house with his rich baritone.

... kissed my girl, by the factory wall, dirty old town, dirty old town.

His good mood was contagious. My sister and I sang and dusted and scrubbed, forgetting that these were chores.

Evening held in store a light supper of grilled cheese and soup. We munched our sandwiches, wishing they were the pies on the sideboard. We were dutifully bathed, brushed and trundled off to bed, left to dream of roast turkey and pie.

Thanksgiving had almost come.


I awoke to the sputtering percolator and the smell of strong coffee. I knew a bag of doughnuts would be waiting: fresh doughnuts, still crisp on the outside. My father was already dressed. We munched away in cheerful silence, occasionally glancing at the pies. Waiting.

Thanksgiving had almost come.

This was one of the rare days when I would not be welcome at Nana's before the appointed hour. She was preparing and I would have been underfoot. There was nothing to do but wait. Absently, I watched the build-up to the Macy's parade in black-and-white and wondered at all the fuss. I tried to care and failed. And I waited.

At noon we were dutifully starched, pressed, and buttoned-down. Combed, brushed, and photographed. Handed one pie each and bundled out the door for the walk to Nana's. The walk took about five minutes. This was the parade that mattered.

I turned the key in the doorbell. My grandfather greeted me heartily, as if he had not seen me just the day before. He quickly ushered us in. All hugs would wait until the pies were safe and the hugs could not wait. He held out his arms and I wrapped my own around him. My fingers did not touch. I squeezed him as hard as I could. He pretended it was too much. It was our custom. Nana gave me a fleeting smile, a one-armed hug, a cursory kiss, and a shoo.

Thanksgiving had come.


I think it's the smells that I remember best: cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin, roasting turkey and baking bread, a whiff of onion and sage, a note of coffee, and all of that floating above the faintest hint of fresh floor wax. If there is a heaven and if I should go there, perhaps it might smell something like that.

To my knowledge, my grandfather never drank. Even so, he enjoyed playing bartender to my sisters and me. With great fanfare, he mixed us his signature cocktail: Fresca with cranberry juice. We were free to roam, anywhere but the kitchen. We searched for hidden dishes of candies and nuts. We slid on the stairs. We wandered among the adults busy gabbling about football, politics, and other things of no importance. We picked out tunes on the parlor piano. My great-aunt winced at every sour note. An electric knife whirred in the kitchen. We made happy nuisances of ourselves until Nana appeared in the parlor door and solemnly handed me a pewter bell.

I suspect the entire neighborhood knew that our dinner was served.

We packed into the dining room and arranged ourselves: Grampa at one end of the vast table, Nana at the other. I took my place at her right hand. I did not yet understand the significance of this. Grampa stood for Grace

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts
Which we are about to receive from Thy bounty,
Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Casting a twinkling eye on us, he added his own prayer: "... and Lord, give us the grace to guide the children wisely." We children always joined in on the "wisely," drawing the word out. Everyone laughed.

And now the meal began in earnest. Dishes were circulated: butternut squash, mashed potato, tiny peas, my mother's creamed onions. Dressing with sausage. Baskets of biscuits and strange little Hawaiian rolls. I smiled to see my father and grandfather scowl at the turnips. Jellied cranberry and cranberry relish. Sweet mix and olives. Gravy and butter, salt and pepper, and a drumstick all for me.

It's the bountiful plate! Christopher has the bountiful plate! My sister trilled.

Indeed, it was. We set to work. While the adults gabbled about football, politics, and other things of no importance, my sister and I crafted careful forkfuls, attempting to recreate the entire meal in each bite. Now and then, someone would declare this to be the best Thanksgiving yet. Nana would simply nod. The dishes circulated again.


And now, a few words about jello salad: Perhaps you may cringe at the thought. I understand. Not really a salad at all. But perhaps, if you're like me, if you're of the right age and disposition, you remember these fondly. My very fashionable aunt always brought an elaborately molded jello salad to Thanksgiving, back when that was fashionable. It was a two-layered affair: cranberry jello, with celery, apples, and walnuts. A sweet sour cream business separated the layers.

In hindsight, it doesn't surprise me that we children could have all we wanted. I'm sure the adults thought it mostly for show, yet we loved it. When else could we eat dessert with our meal and still have all the dessert we wanted after, as well?


When the last trace of gravy had been mopped up with the last biscuit, the adults repaired to the living room. They sprawled on the sofas like walruses in the sun, ignoring the television, talking about football, politics, and other things of no importance.

Nana whisked me into the kitchen. Now I would earn my keep. Coffee was set to perk. The window over the sink was thrown open. Dishes were washed, dried, put away. Leftovers were organized and set aside. Pies and sweets were set out with plates and forks in neat array. Ice cream, whipped cream, fruits and cheeses. Nana relaxed visibly as each item was brought forth. Her smile warmed; her tone softened. Soon, she would consider her work done for the day and enjoy the party.

The doorbell announced the start of round two. The somnolent walruses roused themselves. Aunts and uncles, cousins and friends were arriving for pie. Dessert was strictly self-service. Again and again, we served ourselves. No one was watching and no one cared. I made another meal of pie. On what other day could I eat all the pie I wanted and be asked if I wanted still more?

The lights were dimmed. There was soft music from the radio. The sweet aroma of strong coffee. Adults gabbling about football, politics, and other things of no importance. Cheeks were pinched hello and kissed goodbye. My, how you've grown and how is school? Don't eat yourself sick and would you like more pie? I carried coats and hats upstairs and fetched them down again. The evening built in a slow crescendo and just as slowly faded.

I joined my father at the kitchen table for a final sandwich, on Arnold's white bread, with dressing and cranberry and extra mayo: the perfect coda to the day's excess. Leftovers were packed for travel. Dad walked home to get the car for my now sleeping sisters. Returning, he carried them out one by one. Love and smiles. Hugs and kisses. And we all agreed that this was the best Thanksgiving yet. We made the short drive home in cheerful silence.

Thanksgiving had come, but it had not yet gone.


Friday morning dawned in shades of gray and brown. I awoke to the sputtering percolator and the smell of strong coffee. My father was already dressed. He nodded and smiled. Still in her nightdress, my sister drifted in. We were about to enjoy one of our traditions, one we looked forward to all year: pie for breakfast. I cut her a slice of apple, mince for myself. Two wedges of cheddar. I put water on for tea. In our hearts, we gave thanks for hot tea and cold pie. It was still Thanksgiving.

There would be Christmas sales that day, but these weren't part of our world. My very fashionable aunt would likely be there, but even to her these were sales like any other. She was not rushing to Christmas. She just wanted her shopping done. In our house, it was still Thanksgiving. There would be cold turkey sandwiches for lunch. Perhaps hot browns for supper. All day long we'd nibble at pies, recovering from our day of excess with a day of slightly less.

And we still had Saturday and Sunday.

All week long, that bird would feed us. Sandwiches hot and cold, open-faced and closed, on bulkie rolls or Arnold's bread, with dressing and cranberry and extra mayo. Turkey sliced thin or chopped fine for turkey salad. Reheated with gravy or served as pot pie until his poor old bones were all that was left and we boiled them down for soup.

Then, and only then, was Thanksgiving truly over.


Two weeks ago, I stood in a checkout line by displays of wreaths and trees. I listened to Jingle Bells play as I bought Halloween candy. My four year-old joined in from his seat in the carriage. I decided to sing along: Jingle Bells? What the hell? Halloween's next week! I got a laugh from the cashier and a puzzled look from my son. I didn't bother to explain myself. He wouldn't have understood. Someday.


I love Thanksgiving. It's been my favorite holiday as long as I can remember. There have been changes, of course. My father is the grandfather now and I am the father. My children are the happy, noisy nuisances. Yet there is still something of those long-ago celebrations in every turkey and every pie. Nana is in my kitchen making sure the gravy has no lumps. Grampa still rises for Grace, and prays that we guide our children wisely. It is more than a memory. At least it is to me.

They are really there.

And I hope someday my children will remember our Thanksgivings as I remember mine. A time for family and friends and pies. A time to give thanks for all we have, and for everyone who has touched our lives. And whether my children realize it or not, I know my grandparents will always be there for them too. Even when it is beyond our awareness, love never fails.

Our lives breathe like the tides. A wave of weddings, then a lull. A wave of births, then a lull. A wave of funerals, then a lull. We float along on the surface. We welcome newborns, we mark milestones, we bury our dead. With a little luck, we play our parts: child, parent, grandparent. With a little luck, we greet each season of life with new eyes and an undimmed sense of wonder at each unique and unrepeatable day. And we give thanks.


Why not resolve to make this Thanksgiving more than a day? It is a season all its own. It deserves three days, perhaps even five. Resolve to ignore anything Christmas, at least until Black Friday. Christmas will come in its time, I promise. But I will say no more about that right now.

Thanksgiving comes first.

Respectfully Yours,



CiCi said...

I wish I had grown up in your family. This is awesome. What a miracle a real family is. This is a beautiful post. And I agree with you and Suldog that Thanksgiving comes first, and I don't do anything Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

Bossy Betty said...

What a wonderful post! The details here are so gorgeous and take me back to family Thanksgiving. I love the idea of Thanksgiving Comes First.

Thanks for this beautiful writing!

Suldog said...

Cricket, my friend, my extremely swell friend - Because of my little campaign to keep Thanksgiving alive amidst the Christmas creep, I've been privy to a lot of writing about the holiday, and, as might be expected, I've come upon some truly fine pieces. With no disrespect to anyone else, I've got to tell you that this is the best piece I've ever read.

I had the pleasure of multiple chills up my spine as you reminded me of things that even I, a devoted lover of Thanksgiving, had forgotten about. I laughed out loud at least five or six times, and I truly teared up near the end. I cannot express enough how deeply this pleased me.

I wish this could be circulated nationwide. If it were read by all, I have no doubt that it would do more to keep Thanksgiving in folk's hearts than anything I've written on the subject, and I've written plenty as you know.

Bravo. Bravisimo.

Hilary said...

Cricket this is one of the most beautiful memories and expression of sentiment I've ever read. I so agree with Suldog.

You brought me back to my own childhood family celebrations (regardless of occasion) and I felt like I sat among your beautiful family for Thanksgiving. I love how your Grandparents' spirit remains with you.

I love your way with words. You made me smile, laugh and cry as I watched your beautiful memories unfold. Thank you for this.

lime said...

thank you. you do justice to my favorite holiday. this was a marvelous remembrance. your pacing of the piece well echoes the beauty of pausing for reflection, tradition, and thanksgiving. bravo.

Cricket said...

Hi Techno -

I chose my ancestors well, didn't I?

In truth, it was not all Beav and Wally. We are a normal family. And I suspect that, for my family members, the fondness of memory is in direct proportion to how much my grandmother liked you.

Even so, I have been truly fortunate: more love than not, more good times than bad. And even though this post shows us at our best, at Thanksgiving, we always were. I can't remember a bad one. Who can ask for more?

- C

Cricket said...

Betty, Sul, Hilary, and Lime -

You're welcome, and thank you, too. Really.

Lori said...

Just came over from Suldogs place and am truly blessed to have read this post. He is right, this was beautifully written and really gets to the heart of Thanksgiving. In fact, I think I can almost smell a turkey roasting. :)

Brian Miller said...

i am so stinking hungry at this point...even for jello salad...i have some amazing thanksgiving memories of gathering family...wish it still happened...

Anonymous said...

We don't have Thanksgiving in Europe, so I enjoy reading about this celebration. Sweden is pretty low-key and doesn't start celebrating Christmas in a big way until the first Advent. Thank goodness.

Jeni said...

Anyone who reads Suldog's blog knows to trust his judgment when it comes to recommending other posts that should be read and yep, this time, this post, really matched up completely with his description of it. Truly a work of art. Reminders for sure of what a wonderful holiday Thanksgiving is and for all of us to give thanks for ALL the blessings in our lives, from food to friends, to family and yes, those delicious pies and a turkey that feeds a family for at least a week! Thanks for so many reminders, so many memories of my own that came to mind as I read this today.

Anonymous said...

That was incredible: a true slice of your Thanksgiving Life and it was delicious!

Wonderful, wonderful post!


Craig said...

Beautiful piece. You evoke all of my own favorite Thanksgiving memories, and mostly, just the sheer family-ness of it, which is still my favorite part of Thanksgiving (even more than pumpkin pie, which is saying something). No matter how much crap is swirling around us, it's a chance for us to just be US with each other, and bask in the us-ness of us. . .


Andy said...

This is a great piece, Cricket. Excellent.

My love for Thanksgiving is not expressed in such a lovely way, but I love it so much.

It's my favorite holiday because I get to see my whole family, and don't have to buy any of them a present. ;)

Land of shimp said...

Ah Cricket, that was a thoroughly charming post. Rob will sometimes tell me memories of his childhood, and they always sound like exotic tales to me. I came from such a tiny family that the only Thanksgivings I remember as a kid were with my grandmother, and my dad. Unfortunately my grandmother was a rather awful cook (and generally inebriated) so I took over the cooking when she died, when I was twelve.

That sounds grim, and almost Dickensian, but it's not bad. I look forward to Thanksgiving, as I like cooking, and I like the food too.

But the thing I love is hearing and reading the stories of the kind of Thanksgivings other people remember :-) Really, they sound like something out of Narnia to me. Rob's from a family of seven kids and there would be upwards of fifty people at his grandmother's for Thanksgiving. Noise and food, and drink and merriment.

Anyway, Thanksgiving does come first, and the memories are always around.

Also, for heaven's sake, help with the cleanup. Give your wives, moms, grandmothers and other cooks something to be equally thankful for at the end of the day ;-)

Brittany said...

Is it ridiculous that I teared up?

How beautiful this is.

I remembered all the amazing Thanksgivings from when I was younger (which wasn't that long ago)!

I am in LOVE with Suldogs message. It is about time that I relaxed and enjoyed the Thanksgiving season!

When you wrote about the jello molds, it reminded me of my father. He would make this green jello with onions and carrots, and mayonnaise! I always gag when he talks about it, but secretly it isn't quite thanksgiving without it!

Thank you so much for this beautiful post. You are truly poetic!

Unspoken said...

Our lives breathe like the tides. A wave of weddings, then a lull. A wave of births, then a lull. A wave of funerals, then a lull. We float along on the surface. We welcome newborns, we mark milestones, we bury our dead.

Loved this! Beautifully put.

Buck said...

Thanks for this, Cricket... it's the Thanksgiving I never had.

We had Thanksgivings when I was a child but they were of a different sort since I was a military brat. They were always celebrated in someplace other than home... and for five years straight it was overseas... and family consisted solely of Mom, Dad, my sister and I. There were always friends around the table... my father's comrades in arms and their families and quite often single troops with nowhere to go but the mess hall... but no grandparents, aunts, or uncles. And family IS one of the best parts of Thanksgiving, isn't it?

My Thanksgivings as an adult mirrored my childhood... always elsewhere, some Air Force base somewhere, never home. My sons have followed in the fambly bid'niz, too, so they have the same lack of Thanksgiving traditions.

So. Thank you. This was a real Norman Rockwell sort of effort, but in words rather than a painting.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I echo Suldog - this should be circulated nationwide. Such a beautiful, beautiful piece! You helped reawaken memories of my own early Thanksgivings. Thank you so much for sharing yours with us!

Moogie P said...

This is so very lovely. Charming. Heartfelt. Thank you for it.

My Nonnie used Miracle Whip in the "congealed" (jello) salad.

Phyllis said...

Thanks,Cricket, for popping over and correcting me on the Suldog issue. (blush) I have corrected it on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. As Sully said, this is truly what Thanksgiving was, is and should always be.

Thim :)

imbeingheldhostage said...

Absolutely stunning post. I have tears in my eyes for the Thanksgivings lost to a family that "migrated" from the East to the Southwest, losing all that warm family tradition you wrote so beautifully about.
Suldog said we HAD to read this post whether or not we had the time-- so glad I came!

Sandi McBride said...

Such memories you just brought home to me. I'd forgotten that the parades had ever been in black and white, but I think they were all the more a warmer memory when you reminded me of that! I too love Thanksgiving and the preparing of food and now I'M the grandmother who does the welcoming and I wonder where the time went. Lovelu post. So glad Suldog recommended you!

Jewels said...

Oh my god. I had to stop myself from licking the monitor. I never cook anything that looks like that... or rather... nothing I ever cook comes out looking like that...

rc said...

There's a reason the nightly news and the daily newspapers are losing their influence.

They don't write stories like this that people will read, smile, remember and remember again tomorrow.

Give Suldog a pat on the back.

Cricket said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. I'm so glad you have found, if nothing else, something of the spirit of Thanksgiving here. It is a beautiful season, and deserves to be appreciated for what it is.

If you have already made your own Thanksgiving post, thank you. If not, there's still time. I'd like to believe, along with Jim (Suldog), that somehow we could return to celebrating one holiday at a time. I will not confuse my hopes with my expectations, but it's worth a try.

Thanksgiving comes first.

Cricket said...

Brittany and Moogie P -

I knew there had to be a few other jello salad fans out there.

Yes, I remember the lime jello version too, loaded with shredded carrots, onions, celery and, in my world, sliced pimiento stuffed olives, of all things. Yikes.

And yet that improbable conglomeration of ingredients tasted, if nothing else, reasonably ok. Lime jello and olives. With mayo. Who knew?

Maybe I'll make one this year, just for old times....

Maybe not. ;-)

Thanks for the visits.

Anonymous said...

This is so very beautiful, with incredible details and descriptions that make me feel as though I am right there with you in your memories.

One part of Thanksgiving that is with my family year-round is the tradition of pie: if there is leftover pie, you may have a slice for breakfast. My family ate through 4 pumpkin pies just this past week. (I had 2 pieces.)

Pauline said...

This was perfect! I smiled all the way through and will forever picture "somnolent walruses" on the sofa after Thanksgiving dinner!

Fragrant Liar said...

This evoked about forty years of Thanksgiving memories for me, most melding into a single sense of love and loss and family, and a longing to relive some of those days gone by.

Well written, and yes, Thanksgiving should be more than a single day of bloating ourselves. We do have so much to be thankful for, it should take a whole lot longer to express it.

Anonymous said...

::Eyes well up::

This was beautifully written. Amazing. :)

This post gave me chills, warmed my heart, and brought a tear to my eye.


Kat said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful post. I am so glad Suldog urged us all to come over. Just a wonderful post.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It brings up such warm memories. And you are right, the SMELLS of heaven!

Phyllis said...

Truly beautiful. I have given you a blog award over at my blog. Come on over and see...

Susie @ A Slice of My Life said...

Such a beautiful post and beautiful message. You brought me back to my own childhood memories when Thankgiving was it's own special holiday and not something to just get through so that we could get on to the Christmas festivities.

Well deserved as Hilary's POTW

Andy said...

Cricket, I forgot to mention this. But, with your permission, I'd like to repost this on Thanksgiving Day (with proper accreditation), or just drop a link as a Thanksgiving Day post.

Nancy said...

This was the best post to help explain the love I have for Thanksgiving that I have ever read. Wonderful!

Congrats on POTW - well deserved! Now I'm energized for the big day. I think I need to start now on some baked goods that can be frozen...

Zuzana said...

I myself remember fondly at all times celebrations or holidays in my family, detail by detail, the scents and sounds, just like in your beautifully narrated recollection. Mostly Christmas, as in my part of the world Thanksgiving is not celebrated. However I grew to love that holiday while I lived in North Carolina.
This was truly beautifully written and well deserved of POTW win. Congratulations.;)

Sueann said...

What awesome holiday memories! Nutmeg, sage and coffee...yes. I too remember those smells. And the gathering one table...saying Grace!!! Pie for breakfast...yes!! Don't forget to pass the whip cream.
And I too remember jello salads fondly. Ha!! I still love them!
Thanks for this wonderful post and the view into your holiday celebrations.
Congrats on your POTW! Well deserved!

Unknown said...

A totally awesome story Cricket and one that resonats with me personally as it so reminds me of my own Thanksgiving weekends as a child with my own sets of grandparents.

I can taste the jello salad because my grandmother served that too!

Congrats on POTW!

Sandi McBride said...

A lovely post and well deserved of POTW. Congrats!

Hilary said...

I don't even know what to say, except thanks to my namesake, Hilary, for awarding you the POTW, which got me over here......
This was beautiful beyond description, and you are surely a fantastic writer.

Frank Baron said...

Terrific post, superbly written. I started out hungry but I swear, by the time I got to your Friday breakfast, I had to undo my pants. And I hadn't eaten a thing except your words.

Country Girl said...


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and my birthday to boot. I love being with family, the wonderful food, the laughter and best of all, not having to buy presents.

Congratulations on a well-deserved POTW.

Joanna Jenkins said...

What great memories you brought back for me. Our childhoods and loving Thanksgiving are similar. Only thing is... I still love Jello salad :-)

Congrats on this well deserved POTW. I'm supporting Suldog's Thanksgiving Comes First effort and this this is a perfect addition to why it's so important.

I salute you! jj

Anonymous said...

I can totally understand why you received the POTW award for this! It evoked such love and warmth that I felt I was there experiencing your memories right next to you. Can I come to your house for Thanksgiving?? :-)

Nice to meet you by the way ~ I'll be back!

In fact, I'm going to add this post to my "Latest and Greatest" page as well!

Moannie said...

Suldog sent me here and I am thrilled hat he did. This is truly an inspired piece of writing that brought to life a ceremony that is not a part of my life.

Sandra said...

This is wonderful. Truly deserving of post of the week and doing great justice to Suldog's proclamation.

Thank you, Cricket.

ds said...

You were raised wisely--what a wonderful post (how did I miss it *head smack*). I only want to know: which chair was yours? You were at my childhood's Thanksgiving table, right down to the creamed onions and jello salad (but ours was lemon with carrots & pineapple inside). Pie, sandwiches, oh yes.

So I am firmly on your "side." First comes Halloween, then Thanksgiving and after that comes Christmas. No shopping on Black Friday on principle. No decorating, no red and green, until December.
Wonderfully evoked, wonderfully written. Your Grandpa would be proud. This year, one of the things I am thankful for is you.

Cricket said...

Hi ds -

My chair was at my Nana's right hand. Always. Several of my earliest posts are about her, should you wish to meet her. I'm sure you'll see the significance of it all.

Thank you for your kind words.

- C

Cricket said...

ds -

It occurs to me that you may have meant your question literally. If so, my answer is this: The dining room set had eight tall ladderback chairs, which were reserved for the adults. My chair was a small, squarebacked chair from the kitchen corner that my grandfather had bought at a yard sale, refinished, and recaned.

I still have it. ;-)

ds said...

Hey, Cricket!

The question was more of the metaphysical/metaphorical type, but I'm glad to know that you still have your literal one. Makes the memory more solid, somehow, doesn't it?

Yes, I would love to go back and meet your Nana (though I feel I know her). Am now trying to remember where everyone sat all those years ago...
Thanks for the memories.

Lemon Stand said...

I am so late to the party, but am so glad that I made it. Andy from Andy's Place sent me over and just like Hilary, "You made me smile, laugh and cry..." THIS was MY family growing up. I was so very blessed. Even the smell of coffee is still so strong in my memory. My kids are not Four. They range from 12 to 19 but I hope they remember Thanksgiving in just the same way. At least as close as my husband and I can recreate it. I have to link to this post, just so that I can come back and visit it next Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for describing something that lives on in at least some of the population. (I have to also mention that the Jello salad, pie and Turkey Sandwiches were just the same... but MY grandparents were born in Quebec, Canada and you'd have to imagine your entire Thanksgiving spoken with a VERY french accent! I am 45 years old and was lucky enough to have my grandparents until just a few years ago. They were 91 and 92 when they died within months of each other. I hope they look down on my family now and smile with satisfaction that we are passing the traditions on correctly and completely as they did for us. Thank you so much again. A VERY Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from me and mine.)