17 November 2009

The Grandparents

This top plate is the one I will tell you about in a minute, let me get the rest of the story in place first. I was in first or second grade and the Vietnam war was still going on. It was a few days before Thanksgiving and my teacher asked if I was going to my Grandparents house for Thanksgiving. I said "nope". She asked why not and I told her "Because, my parents are the grandparents. Everyone comes to our house". That year, they did.

This second plate is one of the saucers from that set.
I am the tail end of a big happy family. Jimmy, my oldest brother, (see his story at http://akatscorner.blogspot.com/2009/07/hero-worship.html ) was stationed, I believe, in Hawaii that year and my sister Mary's husband was stationed somewhere else, but all would be there for Thanksgiving. We got the extra leaves for the dinning room table out, (that thing was big with the extra bits) and we polished the silver. We got out the good table cloth. I helped to stuff the celery. (Spread cheese whiz on celery sticks, that is the only reason my Mom ever bought the stuff and she only did it on Thanksgiving and Christmas. She even had a big platter to put them on).
This is a pie plate from the set, it has been mended.
My Mom made excellent Pumpkin Pie, my favorite desert. (My Sweet Hubby, however, makes much better crusts) We always had Pumpkin pie for desert on Thanksgiving. With a crowd that big, there was probably apple pie too. I don't remember, when pumpkin pie is on the table, I can't see any reason to worry about any other kind. I guess you could count Mom's Yams as a desert too. She used candied yams from a can, put them in a greased square metal pan, put marshmallows on top and stuck it in the oven. We called them sweet potatoes, (I didn't know back then how many wonderful things you can do with sweet potatoes, that might be a whole other post).
This is from our walk a couple of days ago.
Mom made her stuffing almost the same way I do. She used cut apples and walnuts and apple juice for the liquid. She stuffed the bird, then put the rest of the stuffing in another square metal pan with the "gizzards" and neck then roasted it in the oven. (You do have to cover it with aluminum foil before it is done, but let it roast to start so you get the nice crunch bits). Stuffing is the only holiday food I am allowed to cook, (cookies don't count, that is baking, I am a very good baker). I do not put stuffing inside the bird, the bird cooks better without it and the vegetarians in the family prefer it that way. I start with the Pepperidge Farm herb or cornbread stuffing mix as a base. I only use about half the butter it calls for and it comes out great.
This is the first of two streams we pass on our walk, it does not always have this much water.
Mom had a turkey roaster. It was a great big thing kind of like a giant crock pot. Rectangular with removable insides for cleaning. It was huge! I have no idea how big of a turkey it would hold, but even with the whole crew eating, there was always left over turkey (Mom was a master when it came to feeding crowds). The turkey roaster only ever got used twice a year, the rest of the time, it took up space in the kitchen. I think my sister Paula has it now, I hope so. Mom always put bacon on top of the turkey to baste it, I think she basted it the old fashioned way too, but I don't remember for sure.
There were mashed potatoes and home made turkey gravy. There were dinner rolls and bread on the bread tray (Mom had a little silver tray that she put a stack of wonder bread for us kids and a stack of wheat bread for the grownups on). There were black olives and pimento stuffed green olives on a dish and pickles, maybe home made, Mom made good pickles but I don't know if she did that year or not. Everything had a dish or a plate, no bottles on the table at the holidays. There was tossed salad and a dish of green beans. We feasted!
The dogwood as of 16 November 09.
After the meal, we were stuffed, so stuffed that Dad suggested we take a break and come back for pie later (that was amazing in itself, Dad loved Mom's cooking). It was a good thing we waited. The "boys" went off into the other room, and us girls started to help Mom clear the table. I was collecting silver ware, I think my sister Margaret was already in the kitchen getting the dishwater ready (dishwasher, why would you need one of those with all these daughters?) My sister Paula collected the plates and started walking towards the kitchen. I am not sure what happened next, but somehow, poor Paula tripped and the entire stack of plates was on the floor. Every china dinner plate my Mother owned and all but one were broken. They were Currier and Ives, blue and white patterned. My Mom picked them up as premiums from the grocery store years ago and before "the fall" she had enough to feed all of us. The first plate pictured at the top, is the last surviving dinner plate from that set. I also have a few of the pie plates, some saucers, mugs and little bowels that survived all the years in between. We were stunned. We swept up the pieces, I don't think anyone even growled at Paula (even after all these years, I could cry for her, I wonder how she remembers it). We had out pie and enjoyed the visit. Later that evening, Mom went out to the camper and brought in the Melmac dinner plates they kept for hunting and camping. Nothing else was said.
This is one of my art projects for this week. I can't decide if I like it or not.
After that Thanksgiving, life went back to normal, except we used the camping dishes. That year for Christmas, several huge boxes arrived in the mail. My big brother Jimmy sent my Mom a brand new set of China for Christmas. It had everything from serving dishes to tea cups and I think there was service for 12. My sister Mary and her husband also sent my Mom a complete set of china for Christmas that year. Both sets were lovely. The set Jimmy sent was the prettiest and had gold around the rims so Mom decided Jimmy's set would be used for special occasions and Mary's for everyday. The Melmac went back out to the camper and Mom just beamed.
This is the second of my two art projects. I like it a lot better. Both are a combination of digital and hand work from photographs.
On the way back from the walk, I saw our lovely home peaking through the autumn trees and had to snap this picture.
Another generation is using those dishes now, what is left of the blue and white set has been divided up. I see years of memories whenever I look at them. I am not sure yet who all will be feasting with us this year, but we will be feasting and I am hoping all the usual suspects show up. I have to work on Thanksgiving so we have moved the holiday to the day after. I can be truly thankful for my big wonderful family on any day.
Do you go to your Grandparents house for Thanksgiving?


  1. Hi Kat!

    I loved this post, with all its memories of family gatherings. I sympathize with Paula --I once dropped and broke a big prized casserole dish of my Mom's.... and I remember I couldn't stop crying.

    That's when she taught me, "If it doesn't BLEED, don't worry about it!"

    My grandparents, who were all born in the 1870s, are of course well past hosting thanksgiving dinners! My husband and I have hosted them for 29 of our 32 Thanksgivings together. It's my favorite day of the year, although this year I will miss my daughter in California, and my nieces in Paris, Philadelphia, Virginia, and Boston.

    I would NEVER get tired of seeing that house thru the trees.... Wow, what a treasure! Take loads of pics during the holidays, to share.
    Best ... Cass

  2. What a lovely Thanksgiving story in spite of the tragedy that the dishes suffered. Poor Paula! I bet she still cringes about it all these years later!

    I have to work on Thanksgiving myself so will be going to my mom's the day after with my brothers and their wives as well as my son and his family. I'm afraid there are no more grandparents to go to at least from my viewpoint as a grandchild; I'm the grandmother now!

  3. I never really realized that his is your house, it looks like a mansion. Wow...
    Lovely story about childhood memories and traditions that are so significant of this time of the year.;)

  4. Poor Paula, she must have felt terrible. I love the photo of your house through the trees, I would never tire of living there.

  5. Hi thanks for stopping by and best of wishes for a happy and lovely Thanksgiving... I am the grandmothers so every one is off to my house......

  6. I have a huge set of those dishes. One of my hutches is filled with them . My mom worked at a grocery store in those days and she collected them. Then my Mom and Dad loved to go to Vermont auctions and they ended up buying more. I often use these when we have family gatherings because I have enough to feed loads of people. I love the memories they give me. We used them for everyday dishes growing up.


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