Thanksgiving Circa 1970-1984
Reflecting back on the Thanksgivings of my childhood, I seem to hone in on the ones spent at the Soderstrom residence in Mason, Nevada. This is the house where my father’s parents Gladys and Dave lived.
By some arrangement, we almost always spent Thanksgiving with my father’s parents and Christmas with my mother’s parents. I recall the men sitting in the living room watching football, the women working like mad preparing the feast in the kitchen and all of the kids running around outside, as long it wasn’t freezing.
It was rare that all of the cousins would be together on Thanksgiving, but when it happened, there would be nine of us hellions running around and having a blast. I remember riding the big, red trike around the concrete walk that circled the house, playing tag or horses or some other game with my cousins. All of the running would keep us warm, because most Thanksgivings offered brisk temperatures.
I remember the long dining table decked out with a lace tablecloth, fine china and real silver for the adults and a couple of card tables set up as the kid tables. My grandmother was really good about setting up little paper cups filled with M&Ms for all of us kidlets.
When the turkey was finally done, one of the men finally did some work and carved the bird. Even the kids were excited to sit down and eat. Grandma’s mashed potatoes and gravy were especially delicious.
After all of those hours of work, it seemed the meal was over quickly. Everyone was stuffed and the kids wanted to go play again. Once we were old enough, my cousin and I were put to work washing dishes, an unfortunate privilege of being the oldest girls (I don’t remember my brother ever having to do dishes!). Grandma didn’t have a dishwasher.
Eventually there was room for dessert, pumpkin pie as always, which Grandma served with Cool Whip. (I remember Cool Whip as such a delicious treat, but once I got older and learned a little about nutrition, it’s something I never let my kids eat.)
As the evening passed, the adults would visit and sometimes the football game would be over and we might be lucky enough to watch the Snoopy Thanksgiving special. The visiting went on and on until it was late and then leftovers were loaded along with sleepy kids into the car.
When you are a child it seems like things will never change. I can still remember the golden November sunsets in my grandparents’ backyard and the shouts and laughter of all the cousins.
Time does its work and you get to sit at the grown up table, which turns out to be not as much fun as the kid table and then Thanksgiving changes, because Grandpa and Grandma are not up to hosting. New traditions arise as cousins marry and move away.
I wish someone had told me to treasure those times, because they are not forever. Maybe everyone else thought it would go on and on too.