Thanksgiving Memories, I was 13 or 14 years old

Thanksgiving Memories

My Thanksgiving Memories

by John Gilbert,  contributing essayist Columbus Georgia Online

In my school days, we got Thanksgiving Day and the following day off from school. I was probably about 13 or 14 years old on this particular Thanksgiving. Here is what I remember, my Thanksgiving Memories.

It was Wednesday night and mother was putting on the last minute touches on our Thanksgiving meal would be served the next day. There was an air of excitement in the house. My mother was a wonderful cook and already the dining room buffet was loaded with cakes and pies for desert. There was also my mother’s fruitcake. When it was placed on the buffet it was covered in cherries but oddly many of the cherries had gone missing. I liked cherries and I was sure that a few of them would never be missed. In the kitchen, Mother was busy at the stove. There was a mixture of smells. Peas were boiling as well as potatoes that were thumping at the lid. Then there was the turkey. It was a big one too. After all, it had to feed 7 people. There was a pan of dressing and a bowl of gravy just waiting to be served at our meal. Canned cranberry sauce would have to wait to be opened the next day.

It was Wednesday night and mother was putting on the last minute touches on our Thanksgiving meal would be served the next day. There was an air of excitement in the house. My mother was a wonderful cook and already the dining room buffet was loaded with cakes and pies for desert. There was also my mother’s fruitcake. When it was placed on the buffet it was covered in cherries but oddly many of the cherries had gone missing. I liked cherries and I was sure that a few of them would never be missed. In the kitchen, Mother was busy at the stove. There was a mixture of smells. Peas were boiling as well as potatoes that were thumping at the lid. Then there was the turkey. It was a big one too. After all, it had to feed 7 people. There was a pan of dressing and a bowl of gravy just waiting to be served at our meal. Canned cranberry sauce would have to wait to be opened the next day.

I went back into the dining room with the notion of maybe taking another cherry from some inconspicuous spot on the fruitcake. Instead, I was drawn to the window. It was dark and cold outside and a frigid north wind was blowing. The trees were bare and the glare of a silver streetlight cast their sinewy shadows across the brown grass like bony fingers grasping at the wind. In spite of the biting cold, I was warm. The inside of the windows was partly misted up from the cooking food in the kitchen. The way the moisture hung on the window panes reminded me of the way snow collects at an angle on windows in snow country. What hit me at that time was the stark contrast of the lonely coldness of the outside and the happy warmth inside our busy home. I remember being happy. No school tomorrow. Just a large meal where I could stuff myself. All seemed right with the world.

More Thanksgiving Memories

My sisters helped my mother set the table the next day. There was always some last minute task that had to be performed. I knew that I would starve to death before dinner would be ready. The last chore was always the Brown & Serve rolls. Once they came out of the oven the meal was ready. We all sat around the table and daddy offered the prayer. Once the prayer was finished the bowls began to circle the table. We never knew which was the proper direction to pass the food so it might go both ways with two bowls coming together in someone’s hands. This is what I’ve always called happy chaos. It didn’t matter that there was any order to the serving. What mattered was that we were all there as a family. Mama and daddy home from work and the 5 of us kids home from school. The meal was a delight and we ate until everyone was stuffed and we had to find a place for that Thanksgiving nap. It was mother’s custom to leave the food on the table for a couple of hours. That was my favorite part. I could go back and snack, a bite here and a mouthful there.

The food would finally be put away and there would be turkey sandwiches for supper. People have complained about eating leftovers for days but I never complained. I would visit my friend’s house. “You want a turkey sandwich?” they’d ask. “Sure” came the answer. “How about some dressing to go with it.” “Naw. I don’t like dressing,” I would answer. Over the years I came to like dressing and now it’s one of my favorites.

We celebrated many Thanksgivings over the years before and after this one. Yet, this one stands out. The thing that makes it stand out is that I was happy. I wasn’t happy because of a new toy or a new bike or that Christmas was just around the corner. It was the first time I remember being happy for the sake of being happy. I was warm on a cold night and my family was there. I suddenly appreciated this happy domestic scene. I think that it was the first time in my young life that, at Thanksgiving, I was truly thankful.


“Thanksgiving Memories” by John Gilbert,  contributing essayist Columbus Georgia Online

About John Gilbert 46 Articles
John Gilbert is a terrific story teller and "Save The Bradley" is historic, funny and entertaining! John's special talent is to awaken the child in us all, this is why the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckle Berry Finn were so popular. John's easy style, descriptive details, humor and just plain nice guy attitude makes John, without question, our modern day Mark Twain. Read one of John's stories and see if you agree?
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