... at this time of the year, memories of my mother come floating back
Thanksgiving memories I seem to reserve for my mother. It was a glorious time of the year and the smells of baking and good foods would be in the air. My Dad and my two brothers were usually at the Melrose-Wakefield football game leaving my Mom and me to the cooking and the setting of the dining room table for a feast to behold. My mother was a stickler for putting the table protectors on the table before the pure white table cloth went on. To this day, I can't figure out how she got all of those gravy stains out from the previous year! The good silverware had been polished until you could see your reflection in the handles and placed with loving care on the white linen napkins.
My Mom and I would be baking for days. Pumpkin and squash pies especially. When we had leftover pie crust, I could roll the remaining dough into little circles, fill them with jam....just on one side, please...and fold the dough over. The best part was using the tines of a fork to close the little pockets. They would be put on a very special tray to bake and they were gobbled up as soon as they came out of the oven.
Thanksgiving morning, my Dad had to put the turkey into the oven around 5:30 in the morning. It was too heavy for us to lift, with all of that wonderful stuffing inside. After the football game, especially when the games were played in the morning and while the turkey was still baking, the boys would rake and burn the autumn leaves by the street curbing. (Whenever I am in New Hampshire and smell that wonderful smell of burning leaves, I think of those long ago mornings).
The turkey would be out of the oven and "resting" before it was placed on the dining room table for my Dad to carve. It would be his job to "mash the potatoes" because he made them "the best". We would be bringing in the cooked vegetables and the big soup tureen that was made with the turkey neck and vegetables on the back burner of the stove while the turkey was cooking. Giblet gravy and cranberry sauce were also staples. My brothers and I worried that my Dad would see that we swiped
some of the turkey skin to eat while it was "still resting". My mother used to tell us to stop stealing the turkey's skin because "we were mutilating her beautiful turkey!" Dad sat at the head of the table and my Mom at the other end. We sat on the sides and whichever side of the turkey lost the most skin, we would try to turn away from my Dad's view. We all had to sit down at the table together and say "grace." If you were really hungry and tried to rush it, we had to say the grace over again until we sounded like we meant it. Last thing said was....Dig in!
When I married and had children of my own, we still carried on the Thanksgiving traditions at my childhood home. My brothers and their children would be there also. My Mom became "Nana", we still baked, we had to put more leaves in the dining room table, we did the lifting and serving, still had to say "grace" like we meant it and were so glad to be together. My brothers and I would still "mutilate her turkey" but when her grandchildren arrived, there were more skin thieves.
My Mom has since passed on and our family has all spread out and even though we can't all be together, the memories of those wonderful Thanksgivings still bind us together as if they were yesterday.
November 4, 2011