Don’t Forget Thanksgiving

by Jann Gargiulo – Among the many happenings in one’s life how does one choose which story to tell and when that story is appropriate?

Since it’s November I think I’ll share our family’s last Thanksgiving on the farm. Of course, we didn’t know that it was our last one. If you’re thinking a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, clear your mind … that’s not my family!

I thought everyone of us loved living on the farm. Lately, however, I heard my sister, Char say, “I can’t wait to move away from here!” Did she know? These are the things that went through a little girl’s head and heart as she grew up in this large family. But, Thanksgiving was a time when Mom wanted to hear from us as to what we were grateful for … I had always said, “Growing up on the farm with all the kids.” This year seemed different, but I didn’t know why.

It was November 27, 1958. No matter what the weather, my Mom was in the kitchen cooking … VERY early in the morning! I don’t remember a time when our turkey was less than 25 pounds, and usually it was much more. It seemed that sometime during the day and evening all the other relatives stopped by for some food and songs! In and out. No one seemed to go any further than the kitchen leaving the front door open; here comes someone else! All of the windows in the kitchen were open too, but it didn’t feel like it!

It was always so HOT in that kitchen!

My Dad could never get anyone to go upstairs to the living room. The reason being that my cousins, Bill and Eddie, were right inside the kitchen with their guitars, uke and banjo playing their bluegrass music! Everyone wanted to hear them and sing with them so no one would go upstairs, including Bill and Eddie!

But when all the food was ready to eat Mom would just tell everyone to put down the music, find a place at the table and bow your head. The table only fit 10, so we ate in rounds. When folks finished eating, Daddy would usher them upstairs to watch the game on TV. (I guess you can tell the first round was mostly guys!) Then the second round would eat … no, I wasn’t in that round either. It consisted mostly of the older siblings and matching cousins. This round stayed at the table the longest! Not to worry, my Mom was very wise, she always had extra food hidden away for the last round. She knew not to trust my brothers!

When the food was gone Mom wrapped the “leftover” turkey bones and put them in the fridge for soup the next day. Later (after the game of course) everyone who stuck it out ’til evening, would come back downstairs to the kitchen and have pumpkin or apple pie. After a few more songs Daddy would declare it time for the young ones to get to bed “cause they’re so tired.” We knew it was Daddy who was tired, but the guests left vowing to come back at Christmas.

Sometimes, even though I was only nine years old, I would sit in the highchair and just take it all in. Something inside me was saying, “Don’t forget these days” and I haven’t!

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