I don't know how my mother managed, but we always had eight pies - mince, apple, pumpkin and transparents - made fresh each Thanksgiving morning by my mother.
We had the usual foods like dressing, cranberries, sweet potatoes and more. But we had more than that. We had the togetherness and love of a family. Everyone always made plans to be at "Granny's" and "Daddy Bruce's" house for Thanksgiving.
Shortly after their marriage, my parents agreed that their children would never have to wait for the second table. They each often shared their tales of hunger pains of earlier days while waiting for the adult men to finish eating, picking their teeth and solving the problems of the community and the world before leaving the table. During this time, the children peeked through the doors and the women worked in the kitchen.That was not the way it was at our house.
A second table always was prepared for the children, and as the family grew, some of the women would serve the tables, while others would keep the dishes washed. It was team work, and it was fun. I guess being the oldest girl, my days at the second table didn't last very long, and I usually was found doing something in the kitchen. Perhaps I was in the way most of the time, but I felt like I was helping. Anyway, due to my wanting to help, it was a long time before I knew that a turkey had white meat and how good scalloped oysters tasted while they were hot. (Here I must be honest. I loved to help in the kitchen or serve the tables, but I never liked to wash dishes and still don't.)
Thanksgiving was something special. The best linens, china, crystal and silver graced the tables. The house was warm and filled with the aroma of home cooking.
Those were good years, and then changes started in our immediate fmaily. I lost a brother from a massive heart attack the Friday before Thanksgiving in 1967. That year no tables were set, but we did manage to cook something. The family all came, but not at the same time. The empty place would have been too painful and too obvious.
Several years later, in 1978, another brother, after a long illness, died on Thanksgiving night. Although his death was not unexpected, we didn't want it to happen on Thanksgiving. But we had no control over that, and sometime in the late afternoon while sitting with my father, he quietly remarked, "This is Thanksgiving. We should have a pumpkin pie." I went to one of the few open stores, bought a frozen pumpkin pie and baked it. We never ate it, but because it was Thanksgiving, we had pumpkin pie.
Now it's Thanksgiving 2007. Many changes have taken place in our family. My parents are gone, along with a sister, three sisters-in-law, a niece, three nephews, aunts, uncles and other family members.
Yes, times have changed, but we have wonderful memories and that makes the day more meaningful, the memories of happy times.
We will have a good Thanksgiving, and I hope each of you does too.