I hope to share research, information, tips, and a little of my family history with others following the path to greater genealogical awareness. Let the search for enlightenment continue...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holidays Are Like People...

Dinner at My House, Thanksgiving 2002
(This was originally written for the 112th Carnival of Genealogy in December of 2011. Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette)  When I started thinking about our Carnival of Genealogy topic for December, Thanksgiving traditions, it occurred to me that my Thanksgiving holiday celebrations have changed over the years.

When I was little my family and I always had dinner at my aunt Helen Bulak's house.  Auntie Helen and my grandmother shared a duplex house in their later years.  Thanksgiving was always on Auntie's side of the house, and Easter was always on my grandmother's side of the house. Thanksgiving dinner included extended family and involved a fancy dinner table set with Auntie's Lenox china.  There was turkey, of course, a special Polish poultry dressing made with turkey or chicken livers (which for the longest time I did not like), mashed potatoes, glazed sweet potatoes, broccoli with Polish crumbs, gravy, cranberry sauce from a can, and apple pie with ice cream for dessert.  Auntie Helen always made the turkey while my mom and my grandmother supplied everything else.

One of my favorite things was and still is broccoli with Polish crumbs or "garnish Polonaise," as I heard Julia Child call it once.  Things always sound better in French, don't they?  Polish crum...oops...I mean "garnish Polonaise" is a garnish made from dried bread crumbs which are browned in butter in a pan on the stove top until they take on a toasted flavor and a crunchy texture.  Sprinkled over broccoli or most other vegetables they are delicious.  It's amazing how something so simple can liven up a dish!

As long as my dad and my grandmother were still with us we continued to celebrate Thanksgiving at home.  By 1990 Dad and Gram were both gone, and I was busy with work and graduate school.  Rather than cook dinner at home Mom and I decided to start having Thanksgiving dinner out, a tradition which we carried on for a number of years.  

After I had a family of my own I cooked dinner at our house.  I made the traditional favorites--turkey, gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry-orange relish, and my personal favorite, stuffing.  Mom joined us for Thanksgiving for as long as she was physically able.  Mom died three years ago, so now we join my husband's family in upstate New York for the holiday.

Grandmother's House (My Mother-in-Law's Family Homestead, Photo Circa 1900)
I love Thanksgiving with my in-laws.  We usually have dinner at my sister-in-law's house.  She and her family still live on the old family homestead. My mother-in-law's Ladd ancestors built the house around 1800, and the Ladd family has lived there ever since.  Again, we have all the traditional dishes--turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry-orange relish.  My mother-in-law is a pie baker of awesome talent.  She makes apple pie and butternut squash pie for dessert.  This year my son had fun helping Grandma make cranberry-orange relish!

I often think back to the wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations of my childhood.  I miss my parents and grandmother profoundly during the holidays.  My life has changed, but I enjoy Thanksgiving with my son and my husband and his family.  My in-laws are incredibly kind and welcoming. I feel like I'm part of their family now. 

Holidays are like people.  Time passes, and people change.  I've changed.  My Thanksgivings now aren't any better or any worse.  They are just different.

Submitted for the 112th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Reflecting On My American Experience this Thanksgiving
What the Dickens, Or How to Blow Up a Duck
Not So Wordless Wednesday: View From Grandmother's House
A Little Slice of Heaven

2 comments:

Kristin said...

I was thinking along those same lines recently. This year my 2nd daughter will host Thanksgiving for the rest of us. Usually it's at my house since we moved to Atlanta. One of my granddaughters who lives out of town and has come in for all the holidays will be spending Thanksgiving with her mother's family in New Orleans. It'll be different but I think it'll be as good as Thanksgiving was back when we all went over to my grandparents for dinner. I do wish those now gone could come over and eat with us though.

Cynthia Shenette said...

Kristin - I often think the same thing about wishing those who are gone could come over to eat with us. My mother's last sibling died recently, and it feels like the end of an era. Things change and time moves on, but our memories will be with us forever.