The tradition of a Thanksgiving Document

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of the event as a child. My summers were spent on the Cape with the grandparents and various aunts near by or visiting for short periods. It was a relaxed summer, on the beach, in the woods, or just plain hanging out in the large living room, listening to people.

Thanksgiving was more formal. We wore our best clothes, and were reminded to be on our best behavior.  My sister and I were the only grandchildren. My parents would take us to the old victorian house in Cambridge, Mass. where Granny and Aunt Peanut lived. (Aunt Peanut was Marjorie, the same name as Granny but she was also very small, thus the name). My dad’s other two sisters would be there some of the time: Lucy and Bobbie.

Aunt Peanut usually took on the two of us, going into the book cases in the library and finding games for us to play while waiting for the meal. Once we were seated around the table, it was a formal occasion, passing the vegetables and taking a helping (a teaspoon full whether you liked it or not). We sat up straight and listened…. politely, to the grown up chatter. When the main course was over, Grandpa would stand up and say it was time to run around the house to make room for dessert and Mary and I would happily take the break from good behavior and run around with him.

Then the time came for the Thanksgiving document, somewhere in my stash of memorabilia, I have a pile of these documents starting from when my dad was a little boy and possibly before then. Granny would read the document, listing the major historical events of the year. Then the minor events of the various members, there or absent and what they had done that year. Then the document was signed by each and every one of us. I recall seeing my dad’s hand writing before he started school… relatively neat, and then the next year when it was a mess. He was born left handed, but once in school he was required to write  right handed and was not as accomplished with the wrong hand.

The document days are over. When we moved west away from the family in Mass. we had our own traditions… As our children moved away, they have established their own as well. One year Sea and I had turkey sandwiches at a park in Florida.

This year we are celebrating on Sunday. The family here have other relatives to share the proper day. But on Sunday, we will have turkey… Amelia insists, and pie. Two of our kids and families will be here and we will be thinking of the others spread from Minn. to California…. and those who still live “back east.”

There will be no document. It is a shame, in a way, that we gave up that tradition, but then how many times have I hauled out the old ones to look at, and with family stretched across the country who would store them for eternity.

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6 Responses to The tradition of a Thanksgiving Document

  1. Robin says:

    Such a sweet memory for your family to treasure. I love this idea of the Thanksgiving document. It makes me a little sad to think it’s a lost tradition…but I understand how hard it gets as families spread apart. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving…no matter which day…and keep cherishing those memories.

  2. Leigh Anne says:

    It is so sad to see old traditions fade away, but exciting to see new ones emerge. I love the idea of having a family document – what a beautiful tribute to your family and a wonderful heirloom for your children. I loved reading your story.

  3. Don’t you think that holidays were created so we could remember. You shared your memory beautifully.

  4. What an amazing tradition — one you may have inspired me to try with my family! Thank you so much for opening your memories to us all. I was truly moved by this piece.

  5. What a wonderful tradition. As time goes by those traditions are hard to keep up, but at least you have some actual documents to remember the tradition.

  6. Tara Smith says:

    I loved reading this slice – family, traditions, love and laughter (running around the house to make room for dessert? that sounds like so much fun!). Have a wonderful Thanksgiving – on Thursday, and again on Sunday.

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