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Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Gathering Of Family And Strangers -- Again

 The push is on at That Old House, to be ready on Thursday to host 
Thanksgiving Dinner for 31 hungry souls.
So today, with 4 days to go, I'm re-posting my first Thanksgiving post,
from way back in 2008 -- our first holiday in this house.

Not many pictures; it's mostly words.  And things have changed in the two years since.
What hasn't changed is the special gathering of family and friends that is an American Thanksgiving.
Here's what our first one was like, in this old American home:

 (First posted December 11, 2008)

It's two weeks to the day since we celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our new old house. We thought we'd be down about five in our usual head count, but it seems that Nature and Thanksgiving both abhor a vacuum.

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.

So all in all we were a modest group of 27.
Howard and I, married 30 years, have hosted Thanksgiving all but 4 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 former house on Riveredge Road. In that old house, I knew where everything was and where everyone would sit, and our kitchen was so narrow that there was only room for Howard and me in it -- no spectators allowed. We realized this year, with the kitchen so open to the conservatory, that people could HEAR us. Yikes.

I discovered the day before the feast that I was missing the long banquet tablecloths, half of the old silver flatware I use at the holidays, and various bowls, pots, etc. Time to improvise.

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 humans. It's no longer possible to jam 10 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, before setting up the long rental tables. So serene before the chaos!)

We put a "cousins" table in the conservatory, a kids' table, with "kids" ranging from 18 to past 30.

The 13 "grownups" got rented tables, diagonally placed, in the dining room. The dining room table was moved into 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 a breakfront, 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, 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, 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!

The intervening two years have brought changes.
Most importantly, my mother is no longer with us.
Nor is Connie, our little Cavalier.
Howard has a different job.
 Our dining room draperies did get sewn, but now I want to replace them.
We found the missing silver at Christmastime, in a box labeled "Winter Coats."
(Moving is an adventure.)
And now I've got to get back to business.  Lots to do; I love this week before the holiday!
I work well under a wee bit of stress.

See you tomorrow with lovely de-cluttered, re-decorated kitchen pictures!

Thanks to Chari of Happy To Design for hosting Sunday Favorites. . . click here!
And to The Tablescaper for her Seasonal Sunday blog party. . . click here!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Cass!

  2. May you and your family have a wonderful your beautiful old house...and kitchen....hugs, Flavia

  3. A little bit of pressure is a great thing. Get busy and enjoy.

  4. Cass, I seem to get more done under pressure. LOL
    You home will be full of laughter and good times as you cook a beautiful meal in that newly beautifully remodeled kitchen. Can't wait to see all the photos of the kitchen and the new drapes.
    Sending best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. ~ Sarah

  5. Lovely home, and it's great how you managed to move the house to accommodate the crew. I can't wait to see the pictures of your kitchen.

  6. Cass,
    It was fun to see your house when you first moved in. And to see the kitchen tomorrow will be wonderful!
    It's lovely to be able to plan and celebrate the holidays with family, isn't it?

  7. Good luck with your TBDBT list! I can't wait to see the after pictures when Tday is over. The changes you've already made are so lovely- it has me scheming to figure out a way to get Mr. NaM to see the post of your kitchen. He refuses to believe you can paint over oak...

  8. Lovely post- It is fun for new readers to your blog to go back and read some of the old posts...we get to know you better. Onwards my friend- Diana

  9. Sweet, sweet post. How things change! Looking forward to seeing the finished kitchen tomorrow!


  10. Hello Cass...

    What a sweet post, my friend! So glad that you shared it with us today for Sunday Favorites! What excitement it must have been to host Thanksgiving for the first time in your new...old house! I sure enjoyed reading about your preparation and festivities, sweet friend! I know that much has changed since this first Thanksgiving at your home...time marches on...and yet, we still have much to be thankful for!!!

    Wishing you and your sweet family a warm and blessed Thanksgiving, my friend!!!

    Chari @Happy To Design

  11. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing your memories. Your comment about your Mom so touched my heart. While my Mom is still living, she is so far from the person she was. Alzheimers is such a mean disease. How I miss her support and guidance.

    Thanks so much for being a part of Seasonal Sundays!

    - The Tablescaper

  12. Cass,
    What a wonderful post. I look forward to seeing your pictures tomorrow.

    This time of year is difficult for me as well. I miss my parents. My mother was my best friend and at the end she had no idea who any of us were. I have wonderful memories and we share them a lot this time of year.



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