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.