A Day of Thanksgiving
For those of us in the United States, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, a day set aside to give thanks for all our many blessings this past year.
Every Autumn, my grandparents and all the neighboring farmers harvested their crops and then burned the fields after the hay was mown. What fun to play in the haystacks. Grampa would build a big bonfire and we all got to roast those huge ears of sweet, green corn. Grannie would wrap potatoes (Irish or Sweet) in foil and bury them in the coals. Grampa would sit on his camp stool or an upside down crate with his hunting dogs sprawled around all of us kids and play us some good old time songs on his fiddle. Grampa would pop some of the popcorn he grew in a long-handled basket popper.
Sometimes it was so foggy that you couldn't see beyond the fire, and grampa would tell ghost stories that would make your hair stand on end. He was a great story teller.
They cured olives and then Grannie canned them. Grampa was a Master Beekeeper and twice a year he & Grannie robbed the hives - most of it was sold, but they kept some of the best. Each of us grandkids got a big chunk of honeycomb to chew on. What a treat! Grampa said it was better for us than chewing gum, and it certainly was for me.
Thanksgiving Day, we had Turkey and Venison with all the trimmings. There was homemade bread with real hand-churned butter and either honey or some of Grannie's Marmalade she made from their oranges or tangerines. She made the best Fruitcake. It wasn't a dark cake - it was light and it contained the candied oranges, walnuts and other candied citrus fruit from their own orchard.
Some years we spent Thanksgiving camped at the Beach. It was cold and damp, but there was always the big fire to back up to and a cozy old smelly canvas tent to sleep in at night. Breakfast on the beach was the best of all. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, the best hot coffee and fired potatoes. If we caught fish, we ate them. Grampa taught us all about nature and all living things around us - that they were sacred and that we should be thankful for the world we lived in and shared with all creatures.
Grannie was the gardener. She has always inspired me - the best thing Mama ever told me was how much I reminded her Grannie - my love of flowers and gardening and my enthusiasm for finding and collecting special rocks. She was delighted when I kept honey bee hives and caught several wild swarms all by myself.I guess I am a lot like both of them.
I know I am rambling on, but I wanted to share some of my special memories about Thanksgiving with you. I have so many wonderful memories - so much to be thankful for. So many special experiences. Such a great family.
We never had a lot of money, but we had a great family and an unusually awesome family life...at least I think so. We went to so many places and saw so many things. And all those kinds of experiences I passed on to my children.
Though few these days seem to remember the old tradition as it was originally, certainly as I was taught that we should honor it anyway, it is still deep in my heart. I sing those old songs and think back on those special times with tears welling up in my eyes.
May we all realize our blessings for what they are and what we have in this country, and pass the old traditions on to the younger generations and families with much Love and THANKSGIVING.