Today I’m thinking of Thanksgiving eves past – the hustle and bustle of setting up three dinner tables, the dishes, decor, who was expected, who would sit where, who got to sit in the dining room – never any question about where Papa and Bill would sit – even as the younger generation aged-up they were still the “kids” at their own table – in later years with friends, spouses and significant others… even with Nana doing her traditional Thanksgiving dinner with her fixens’ (Meals-on-Wheels to Tewksbury) – we had our own turkey to roast and stuffing to make… Ma’s dinner was a banquet…a huge roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, carrots, green beans, sometimes creamed onions, OS cranberry sauce with starters of pickles, olives, fruit cocktail with sherbet and, of course, her special hot banana fritters (batter made with our Nana Kirwin’s secret recipe) served with real maple syrup… deserts were another specialty… the pies – apple, blueberry, banana cream, pumpkin, lemon meringue, pecan… the chocolate chip cookies (Christmas boasted at least eight different varieties)… the date nut bread and for those with a lighter appetite frosted or plain angel cake… My God we were spoiled but we loved it! This was our late mother’s gift to us… if we said it’s too much work and said cut back or take it easy Ma – she’d say enjoy it while you can… I won’t always be here to do it! She continued serving up this bounty into her 80s… my sisters have her culinary skills… a few years ago we enjoyed Thanksgiving in Florida with Agnes and Tom and their extended family and it was a walk-back in time… I cherish these Thanksgiving memories… the grandchildren all remember and the great-grands have heard the stories…. Dad’s last Thanksgiving dinner with us was in 1995…..
This particular 2018 Thanksgiving falls on November 22 – that date that fell that Friday before Thanksgiving Day those fifty-five years ago – conjures-up the shock and grief that our family suffered and shared as we learned that the President – Jack Kennedy- our Irish, Catholic, son-of-Massachusetts – had been assassinated. We mourned, cried, questioned and prayed. That experience and loss is also ingrained in the memory… and we need to remember all of it.