Hello again Maple People,
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I recently got some concurrence from my friend Gordon out in Utah:
"my favorite holiday of the whole year" he wrote. "…to my knowledge the candy companies have not yet created a line of candy for this holiday ..its just a honest to goodness simple time to remember and give thanks."
Thanks to you Gordon…nor have they yet made a red-suited Pilgrim, ten tiny turkeys, or changed the words to "over the river and down the chimney". Thankfully, our nation's late November holiday is still just a simple and reflective time to gather with our families and give thanks.
Here we are at that time of year again and, I know…by the time you folks read this, the feasting will be over and we'll be headed toward Christmas. Sometimes good feelings and full bellies, though, enliven our nostalgia, so I thought you all might be interested in hearing from Betsy and me about our most memorable Thanksgivings.
Mine happened way back when I was in my early teens and Grandpa and Grandma Morse still lived down the road in their grey farmhouse. My family, two parents and four kids, lived a short distance away. After a night full of preparing, we six loaded our food offerings into family sedan and drove on over. The sky was looking a bit grey but we thought nothing of it. That was back before the days of "precision" weather forecasting and, just as now, we probably wouldn't have put any stock in it anyway.
When we pulled into Grandpa and Grandma's yard, the heavenly aroma of food baking met us even before we opened the car doors! As we carried our dishes into their house, the snow was slowly coming down but our minds were on the celebration ahead, not the weather. Inside, apron-clad Grandma beamed as she put the finishing touches on "mountains" of food and Grandpa, reaching for our jackets, greeted us with a warm "come in, come in…let me take your coats". The rest of our day included all the accoutrements of a typical Thanksgiving…a huge, golden turkey, a happy family seated around the table, a delicious assortment of food…but while we were celebrating, the world outside was turning white.
Pumpkin pie with real whipped cream capped a perfect culinary afternoon and we finally donned our cold-weather garb, said our goodbyes, and headed out the door, or at least tried to…there was by now so much snow, the door had to be pried open! Someone found a shovel and made a narrow path out toward our car but there was no hope to make that mode of transportation mobile. It stood a mere lump in the snow. We six waded through two feet of snow, out to the unplowed highway, and waddled and wallowed our way back home.
Betsy's most memorable Thanksgiving also involved snow, but snow with a more "purposeful" slant. She grew up in the city of Montpelier with her parents, two brothers, and one sister. Their father Gilbert worked for the State of Vermont but grew up on a rocky sidehill farm in Mount Holly, Vermont. The Parker kids were used to seeing him going to work in a shirt and tie, and spending weekends in the quarter acre arena around their house in Montpelier. For holiday trips back to the Parker homestead in Mount Holly, however, Gilbert Parker's farm upbringing blossomed.
"One particular Mount Holly Thanksgiving when I was six" Betsy said, "Dad went out to the barn and harnessed up our old horse Molly." She went on to describe the pride she felt in knowing that her dad remembered and was able to do these things. "He came around the corner of the barn driving a sleigh and said 'pile in'". Before that Thanksgiving meal, she and her three siblings toured the hills and valleys of the Parker place in a one horse open sleigh…meat for a "most memorable " Thanksgiving of the lifetime for at least one little girl.
"Parker family Thanksgiving sleigh ride, 1958"
Sadly, because of changes in this America, similar experiences are few and far between today for other little girls. Thankfully, though, some things have not changed. We've been able to keep the "thanks" in Thanksgiving and for that I'm, well, thankful. I hope you all had a great day…I sure did!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!