Thanksgiving has come to mean something different than it used to as I grow older. When I was a child, my mom’s side of the family would gather at my grandparents’s house. It was a row house in York, Pennsylvania, and my grandfather, who was a barber had his shop in the front. There was a door into the shop with a tall barber pole beside it and a separate door into the house. Through that door my aunts and uncles and cousins would pour in from Yonkers, NY, Levittown, NJ, and Reading, PA. My grandmother’s table took up most of the kitchen. This was the gathering place in the house rather than the living room on the second floor.
Everyone came early to help prepare the meal, though my mom and grandma did most of the cooking. We’d have turkey with all the trimmings, wine, cannoli my grandma made herself, and pumpkin pie. Sometimes there would be a rum cream cake, another traditional Italian dessert. Other Italian families lived around the area, mere blocks away, and had witnessed my aunts and uncles growing up.
My mom took over preparing Thanksgiving dinner in my grandma’s later years. Even though my husband and I only lived an hour away, we’d often stay overnight or spend a weekend there to give my mom a hand. In time, I took over Thanksgiving dinner and my mom would join us at our house along with some of my husband’s relatives.
Since our son moved across the country, our celebration of Thanksgiving has changed. Last year my husband and I had dinner with a grade school friend and her husband at our favorite diner in York and then we went Christmas shopping. This year, we’re flying across country on Thanksgiving day. After we arrive, we’ll put a ham in the oven and enjoy a late dinner. I won’t miss the turkey at all because we’ll be with our son...and our grand kitties.
Do you eat turkey on Thanksgiving?