Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving by Doris Hutchins (Holt)

THANKSGIVING WITH GRANDMA (my favorite holiday)
by Doris Hutchins January 2002 (updated 2008)

When I was young, around 12, I always looked forward to going to Grandma Warburton’s farm in East Fairhaven, MA. for Turkey day. At 13 Sycamore Street in Fairhaven, MA, Mama & Papa, Edith-ten, Sonny-five and Baby Betty around one, would be “all dolled up” in our best clothes, then Papa would load the family into his Ford “Model T” jalopy and off to Grandma’s house we would go. We loved riding in the car and now we were on our way to the farmhouse, about 7 miles down New Boston Road.

As we arrive at Grandma’s house we can smell the turkey and dressing cooking. It permeates the air. This was sixty eight years ago and we only had turkey on one special day a year, to give thanks for our good fortune. We appreciated the opportunity to sit down together and have such a good meal.

Grandma went to a lot of work preparing the meal. There were all the fixings you ever dreamed of. All the vegetables were scraped and cut up then cooked on the old cast iron kitchen stove. We had carrots and turnips, winter squash, mashed potatoes and gravy, pickles, olives and much more. She made the most delicious pies from scratch and kneaded and kneaded the bread until it was just right for rising. There is nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread, unless it is to have a fresh cut slice of hot bread, smothered with creamy butter.

There weren’t any modern conveniences like a microwave, electric stove, hot water, or refrigerator. The food was kept warm in the top oven-like location on top of the stove. Firewood had to be fed constantly to the old cook stove to ensure proper baking conditions.

Water had to be pumped into the kitchen hand pump in the farmhouse from the main source in the front yard. It was activated by taking hold of the handle and pumping it up and down. A metal dish pan full of water would be placed on the top of the stove so we would have hot water for washing dishes after the feast. The perishables were stored in the three door icebox. The iceman would deliver ice twice a week and put it in the bottom compartment with a “drip pan” underneath. It just became a way of life in those days to do with what you had.

Finally the meal was ready and everyone sat down in their assigned chair at the big table in the huge combination dining/living room. Grandma had her big crystal etched dish on the table filled with fresh butter. A big crystal bowl, with grape designs, was filled with sugar. (I have that bowl now.) We could hardly wait to taste the delicious food prepared for Thanksgiving by Grandma. Most everyone ate heartily, except Baby Betty. We would not have turkey again for another year. This was Grandma’s gift of love to us. It was a treat I always looked forward to, and have never forgotten, over the years, the wonderment of family together.

Following the same tradition, I had always cooked Thanksgiving dinner at my house and all my family that could make it, would come by to share Thanksgiving with each other.

Now at age 80, I do not cook very much, and my children and grandchildren have taken over the family get together traditions.

Sunday, November 16, 2008