The Plan for the Day
My kids say I go about planning Thanksgiving like it was the D-Day invasion. They say I worry too much. I tell them somebody has to.
My Thanksgiving buffet is always an old-fashion Southern-style meal. Dishes are much like my mother used to make. Here are my recollections of those bygone days.
I don’t come from a big family, so there was no trouble fitting around the dining room table on holidays. Thanksgiving dinner included just my parents, maternal grandparents and me and an occasional relative or two.
Cooking in a Small Kitchen
The day was heralded with great pageantry. Or as much as we could muster in a row house with a kitchen the size of a walk-in closet and an oven barely large enough for a baking dish.
I always said I didn’t learn to cook as a child, because our kitchen wasn’t big enough for more than one person. Truth be know, my interest ran more to baseball and books than food preparation.
Only the Best
Like Christmas, Thanksgiving was a celebration that called for using the accumulated finery that working people stored away for such occasions. One of my assignments was to set the table with a full array of silver, china and crystal.
Mama’s silver pattern was called Fragrance. Over the years she’d added to it piece-by-piece until she had eight place settings. (Sorry, Mama, but the Noritake and the Reed and Barton are packed away—somewhere.)
“Be Careful with the Crystal, Jean”
On special occasions, we’d drink from the crystal glassware rather than the multi-colored set of aluminum tumblers we used every day.
I’d retrieve each piece from the glass-front china cabinet, where fine items were kept on year-round display. I loved the way the fragile stems felt. What fun it was to rotate each piece in my hand. I loved the ringing sound the glasses made when gently tapped with a spoon.
From the kitchen, Mama would invariably call out a warning for me to be more cautious handling such costly stemware. She’d remind me that it would be mine someday to set my own Thanksgiving table.
Dealing with an Icy Bird
Debra and I insert the dressing into two turkeys.
At the time, I couldn’t envision ever celebrating Thanksgiving without Mama in the kitchen. No way would I ever go one-on-one with a dead bird. I’d never run my arm into its icy cavity to fetch parts and pieces for giblet gravy. Yuck!
Pushing those thoughts aside, I’d count out the Noritake china plates. I’d remove the sterling silverware from its cloth-lined, wooden chest, check it for any signs of tarnish, and polish each piece until it gleamed.
A Rockwellian Setting
As the noon hour approached, without being told, I’d don my church-going clothes. My father and grandfather would put aside their usual work attire for a tie, well-starched shirt and cardigan. They looked like Mr. Rogers long before he ever had a television show. Ours was a holiday table as Rockwellian as it gets.
A Meaningful Celebration
But wherever we are or with whom we share the day, the important thing is that we celebrate with grateful and hopeful hearts. Have a Happy Turkey Day!