As you watch your children grow, do you ever wonder what memories they will carry with them to adulthood? Especially during the holidays, when so many traditions are handed down from generation to generation. What can amaze one is how the most obscure moments are engraved on their minds. Ones you may not even remember, but to them it is just like yesterday. I would like to share a most vivid memory of a Thanksgiving celebration when I was four years old. Let’s set the stage: it was 1951 and Thanksgiving was to be at our house. At the time, we lived in a two-bedroom bungalow built after WWII. It was a small home, but my dad had made a recreation room out of a portion of the basement with a bar and a sink. In the other area of the basement we had an old stove and oven. That year my parents decided to invite both sides of the family. The grand total of guest were 22 adults and me. Being the odd man out, I was able to observe the activities without being noticed. Remember, back then, children were seen and not heard, so instead of asking questions we observed events. The first problem was how to seat everyone in the rec room. They decided to use the ping pong table, so all the family lent my mother their tablecloths. I remember helping my mother put all the different tablecloths on the table – nothing matched but it served the purpose. Then we went on the bus to the grocery store to buy all the food for the big meal. She ordered a 25-pound turkey which, in my eyes, was huge! Thanksgiving morning, at 3:00 AM, I snuck out of bed and watched the big bird being stuffed, hand sewn shut and put into the oven. It was too early, so back to bed I went while my mom slaved over preparing, cooking and baking through the wee hours of the morning. Finally, about mid-morning, the rest of the family arrived. I stationed myself on the landing leading to the basement. I was snug up against the door which had storm windows, which were all steamed-up from the women going up and down the stairs and both stoves being used. The men had made themselves scarce – it was a woman’s domain. My family was an interesting blend of Italian, Albanian and Slovenian. My grandparents spoke some English but easily lapsed back to their mother tongue. Not only was there a flurry of women, but so many different languages being spoken. Before I knew it, the turkey came out of the oven and serving dishes started to appear in the middle of the ping pong table. Eventually, the table was over-flowing with food. When we got done eating the women washed the dishes while the men played poker. After the dishes were done, the coffee was made and then it was time for dessert. As I look back, I do miss them all, but the memories are golden. It was a different time, for sure, but not any less special than the modern Thanksgiving feasts of today. I would like to thank you for sharing the memories with me. This Thanksgiving I would like to wish each of you, whether with family or out on the road, a very special Thanksgiving Day. And most of all, I hope a special memory brings a thankful smile to your heart.
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.