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Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Turkey Re-Run For Sunday Favorites!

On Sundays, I take advantage of Chari's Sunday Favorites blog party, and re-post a story from the dim past. You can see other blasts from the past by clicking here and joining the party at the Happy To Design blog!

I began blogging in October 2008, just for fun, just to keep an informal record of our life
at That Old House,
and for several months I wrote only a handful of posts, most with no pictures.

After all, it was just a journal for myself; who was going to see it? :-)

This post, below, is from early December, and is about our first Thanksgiving in That Old House. There are only a few pictures -- I was in a steep learning curve and just figuring out how to mesh pictures and text. So, it's mostly words . . . . I'll do better for Thanksgiving 2009!

I found and added a handful of Thanksgiving pictures at the end of the post,
including one of the noble bird himself. Gobble, gobble!


(December 11, 2008 . . . Morris County, New Jersey)

It's two weeks to the day since we celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our new old house. Our usual crowd is about 30, but we thought we'd be down about five guests this year -- some of our family being out of town -- but it seems that Nature and Thanksgiving both abhor a vacuum.

In place of our 5 missing regulars, we welcomed 3 complete strangers, California natives (poor things!) with no East Coast family. Niece Alice invited one of the Californians, niece Becky invited two others. We were delighted to have them. At Thanksgiving, the more, the merrier. We ended up a modest group of 27.

Howard and I, married 30 years, have hosted Thanksgiving all but 4 of those years.
It is the perfect ecumenical holiday; everyone celebrates, so there's no chance of offending anyone's beliefs, or non-beliefs. Everyone believes in eating. And everyone believes, or should believe, in gratitude.

It was odd, planning for Thanksgiving in a different house after 20 feasts in our Riveredge Road home. In that old house, I knew where everything was, and where everyone would sit, and just exactly how to angle the long tables in the living room to seat everyone together.

There, our kitchen was so narrow as to allow only room for Howard and me in it -- no spectators allowed -- no one to see our boo-boos or hear our occasional cussing. We realized this year, with the kitchen so open to the conservatory, that our guests could hear us. Yikes!

I discovered the day before the feast that I was missing two long banquet tablecloths, one third of the big white linen napkins, fully half of the old silver flatware I use at the holidays, and various bowls, pots, pans, carafes, etc. Uh-oh.

Plus ... our dining room is a good size, but not large enough to seat 27, especially now that "the cousins" are actual complete and full sized human beings. It's no longer possible to jam 11 little bottoms cheek-to-cheek at the far end of the table, as we used to do at the long living room set-up on Riveredge Road.

(Picture of dining room, left, before setting up the long rental tables. So serene before the chaos!)

We put a "cousins" table in the conservatory -- a kids' table, with 14 "kids" ranging from 18 to past 30 years of age. They got stainless flatware; it worked.

The 13 "grownups" got the rented tables, lined up diagonally in the dining room, covered with gold tablecloths I found last minute at Home Goods.

The dining room table itself was moved into a corner of the parlor as a drinks table, and the parlor chairs and sofa were moved back against the walls to make room for more chairs for chit-chat. With a fire going, it made for a lovely cozy nook for my Dad and my brothers to sit and have a really good jaw.

My daughters, bless them, retrieved all of the Thanksgiving china from the bottom of the big pine breakfront, gave them a wiping off, and made sure all the wineglasses were spotless. Or nearly so.

It was a good dinner. The food was what Thanksgiving food should be: traditional, not poisonous, abundant, well cooked in a timely manner, and EATEN.

And we all were grateful.

Dion, above, and Connie, below --- enjoying the special
cookies our niece Becky brought for them.

I am thankful for so many things this year, too many to list. But my joy in a family gathering is shadowed by my mother's absence. I want her there to encourage me and tell me I did a good job, to call me the next day for our "party post-mortem" conversation. But she can't be a part of our family gatherings now, and she will never see this old house we love so much. Mom is a prisoner of Alzheimer's Disease, and lives in a facility only 10 minutes away... so close as the crow flies, but light years away from reality.

But to have my husband, my daughters, my dad and Howard's parents, and so much of our family -- and those three complete strangers -- to sit at our tables and break bread (and wishbones) with us -- now that is a blessing indeed.

Next Thanksgiving -- the draperies in the dining room will be actually SEWN and not just fabric panels hung by clips, and I will by then have found that missing silver flatware. Probably.

On to Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year!

August 2009 update: We found the rest of the old silver around Christmas, when it snowed and we were digging in a box marked "boots." It did not contain boots. It did contain 90-year old flatware.

I still have not found the huge burgundy banquet cloths we used in the old house, but they weren't the right color for the dining room here anyway. I think the ghosts may have hidden them away to keep me from using them.

Another pre-Turkey Day shot of the dining room.
Corner clutter was removed before the big day!

Tom Turkey himself, all 29 pounds of him.

And Mr. Howard himself. Note the snazzy turkey-printed shirt.
From Cracker Barrel, where else?

Now it's that time of year I begin making my "to do before Thanksgiving" list. Poor Howard. -- Cass


  1. What a lovely post. I have a new twist for you - about the "everyone believes in eating" - we have a daughter and son-in-law that only eat raw food - absolutely nothing cooked. Try fixing a pleasing dinner that includes them. It is hard - they usually bring their own things and we serve plenty of raw food - but we also serve our traditional cooked foods - which, by the way - they always end up eating because they say they just can't resist the smell - or the taste - so there goes the willpower to only eat raw. LOL

  2. We used to go to my mothers every year for Thanksgiving. Now that my mother passed away, that tradition is passed on to me. My daughters and their families come for the weekend. Since they live out of town, I have to figure out where everyone will sleep. The little kids are happy sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor. Of course, the next day is Black Friday, which means an early morning trip to shop for the women.

  3. What a beautiful post. Your home is truly beautiful. Love, love, love the pups.. They are just too cute for words. We used to have large family gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas and with hubby's health he's not fond of large crowds now, so those traditions have gone by the wayside. I have to admit I miss all the preparation. I'm glad you reposted this, I missed it the first time around..hugs ~lynne~

  4. You just inspired me to be SO EXCITED for the holidays!

  5. Hi Cass...

    So happy to have you join in with the fun of Sunday Favorites again this week, my friend!!!

    WOW...I'm impreseed, Girlfriend! Hosting a festive Thanksgiving meal and get together for 27 people...that's no easy feat!!! I can only imagine how beautiful Thankksgivings are at "That Old House"...I'm looking forward to seeing this year's Thanksgiving photos!!! Girl, I have hosted some fairly large gatherings but nothing quite this hat is off to you!!! Ohhhhh...your turkey looked absolutely scrumptious!!! By the way...loved the photos of your furbabies enjoying their cookies...that's too cute!!!

    Have a super Sunday, Darlin'!

  6. Sounds like this was a wonderful day at your house! Glad you found the flatware!

  7. What a great post. Having a big Thanksgiving dinner with lots of friends and relatives sure is something to thank for....Christine

  8. Oh YES!!! I was HOPIN' this was the turkey shirt post!

  9. One of my all time favorite holidays even though for years we have spent it just the two of us..Thanks for reminding me that it's just around the corner...and yes, I cook a huge turkey....the dog eats very well for a whole week....

  10. A wonderful post, these will be the times you will never forget. Your house is so beautiful.

  11. Hi Cass! What a wonderful family get-together! Now you've got me thinking about it, too. It will be here before you know it. Your home is just gorgeous! Glad the flatware turned up! Happy week!...Debbie
    PS Love the earring idea for the tags!

  12. What a great post Cass...I'm so glad you choose to show us this I missed it the first time around...Sorry about your mama my friend...My Mama also had ALS and do know the impact it has on the family...I too miss my best friend...May you have a great day...and loved Howard's shirt I could just picture getting Len into one ha ha!! May you have a great week my friend...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ how's Anne doing at school...

  13. I so enjoyed this post...I feel as though I was there partaking in the feast! You have such a beautiful way of telling a story.
    Your babies are just adorable!!! Lucky ones to have had a special cookie brought just for them. Pure contentment there.



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