A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'll take two turkeys and 20 pounds of potatoes, please

Last night I had a horrific dream - it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I hadn't gone shopping yet! I had nothing - no turkey, no potatoes, no cranberry, nada. Zip. Squat. Zilch. I woke up in a cold sweat. Not sure if it was because of the dream or just another hot flash, but I was very glad to be awake. And happy to know that there were still 8 shopping days before T-Day.

Thanksgiving is a big deal at our house. This year we're at 23 people so far. Except for one grandson, the whole family will be here. Four kids, 9 grandchildren, Ed's dad, Ed's first wife (yes, we're friends and she's at all our holiday gatherings), and my son's wife's sister and her friend. We may end up adding another person or two. We usually have tables everywhere and for the last couple of years the little ones have been relegated to "kids" tables so the adults can eat in peace (sort of). Heck, I sat at a kids table until I was 18!

Growing up we always had large crowds for Thanksgiving. It seemed to be the one holiday where the whole world was invited. My family couldn't stand to see anyone alone on T-Day so we would invite co-workers who couldn't be with their own families, college friends who couldn't go home for the weekend, and the stray person that no one was sure who brought them! Italians also kiss a lot. One cousin made the rounds of the room as he was leaving a holiday meal and kissed everyone. When he was done, he went up to his mother and said, "Who are those people I just kissed over in the corner?" Nothing stops an Italian male from puckering up.

One of the highlights as a college student was when my cousin would bring his fraternity brothers over. Now, our meal was huge. And has several courses. The first one was always pasta (we called it macaroni back then). Out would come bowls of pasta, bowls of various meats cooked in the tomato sauce (which we called gravy), bread, salad. Ken's buddies would start filling their plates and we'd all say, "Save room....". But the often didn't heed our advice.

After the pasta portion was done, the women would clear the table, the men would burp, and the kids would just generally be annoying. Then came the main course. The turkey. Along with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, corn, more salad, cranberry sauce, rolls, and this green jello mold thing that no one every quite knew the contents of or who brought it. The aforementioned frat buddies would just stare in amazement. Then they would dig in.

Turkey was done. Women clear the dishes. Men burp a bit more or go find a comfortable place to watch football and fall asleep while the dishes and kitchen were miraculously cleaned up. Then we all gathered at the table again for pie, cake, cookies, Italian liquers, coffee, nuts, candy. Only thing missing was the Alka Seltzer.

After dessert was done, we rested for a bit. Often played poker or Put and Take (some little game with dice and pennies). All the kids were invited to play, too, so it was really fun. And we would usually begin telling stories about all of my father's misadventures in his attempts to fix things, or in his inate ability to destroy things. Yeah, we all had a lot of good laughs at his expense - and he loved it.

By now everyone was getting a little tired. Football was over so the men weren't quite sure what to do with themselves. The kids were either sleeping or making everyone miserable. That's when the women would go into the kitchen, bring out all the leftovers, and we'd start eating again!


MMrussianadoption said...

what great memories and pictures. We so far have 15 coming and we are waiting on 2 more responses. You have us beat.

Fleur de Lisa said...

We often have in the area of 45-50 people. Crazy!

I must admit that we've never had pasta at Thanksgiving-- too bad because I love it!

I love the old photos. Thanksgiving was and still is a special holiday with my family.