This Thanksgiving was the 43rd Thanksgiving since I went out into the world on my own. Most of those years, I cooked a large dinner for family and friends. A typical Thanksgiving dinner at my house included all of the following:
Sweet potato casserole
Both green and black olives
Nuts in the shell with nutcrackers in a dish on the coffee table
Mince meat pie
I may have left something or another out….
Anyway, the point is that, aside from the few holidays at the house of a family member, I served at least 30 of those 43 years! Once a year I cooked enough for a small army and some of those years, I cooked all of that for two after all family moved away or died.
Each year, I was so tired from the preparation for the holiday and all that cooking that I just wanted people to hurry up and eat, then just go home! Until I got wise and changed my ways... Our menu now is quite simple:
Cranberry/orange relish (I have to have it!)
Quite a difference, right? And much more enjoyable holiday for me!
But, this is really about my first Thanksgiving away from home. I was 21 and married less than a year. My (then) husband was given a turkey by his employer. When he brought that turkey home, I was undaunted. I flew into action. I planned my first Thanksgiving menu, which looked an awful lot like my Mom’s menu (see above). In other words, I planned a meal just like I would have had at home with my parents.
My husband was so excited to be having his own first Thanksgiving dinner that he invited friends. He didn’t stop at a few and he didn’t keep track of how many he invited. At one point I asked him exactly how many people he invited. He didn’t know… I didn’t know the extent of it until Thanksgiving Day, 1968, when people started arriving at our house.
When I saw all the people, I started worrying that there would not be enough for all, but one thing I had not been able to master yet was carving my cooking habits down to two people. So, I had cooked as much as my Mother would have and more because there would be extra people.
The other thing I worried about was where everyone would sit. As newlyweds, the only furniture we had was a sofa with matching chair and coffee table given to us by my mother-in-law, a small drop leaf kitchen table (imagine apartment size) with 2 chairs, a card table and a bed. That was it! I really wanted to wring my husband’s neck, but that wouldn’t have been the thing to do in front of polite company….
When all was said and done, and heads counted, twenty-two guests shared our first Thanksgiving. Our guests happily sat everywhere - on the floor, on the porch steps, on the patio – well…just anywhere they could find a spot to sit. Somehow, everyone had enough and we still had leftovers to enjoy the next day. Best of all is that it was a wonderful first Thanksgiving that I cherish in my memory to this day.
This past Thanksgiving will go down in our memory banks as the first Thanksgiving of the Mile High Apple Pie. I am sure a new tradition was born with this…
What a difference between our first Thanksgiving and the last…
Am I right?