Written by Patty Hirst of Dublin
“Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.” Lydia Maria Child—1844
This traditional Thanksgiving song is one that comes floating back to my mind from early school years. Mrs. Buchanan, Mrs. Bramlett, Mrs. Henderson, and Mrs. Brewer shaped our world during those first four years of school.
There were certainly ideas of how holidays were celebrated connected with our family customs and traditions, but from our early school days we had our very small world enriched as these ladies introduced us to pieces like this melody.
Back to Miss Child’s words, I doubt any of us had ever seen a real sleigh, certainly hadn’t ridden on one and living in Gorman, Texas had little experience with snow.
However, for small town and rural baby boomers growing up in those innocent early 1960’s we were well acquainted with country roads and family gatherings. Thanksgiving was a much anticipated holiday from school and the feasting that would come at Grandma’s house or that of an aunt and uncle.
Before setting off and again on the way my brother and I were reminded that we were “visiting” and “to mind our manners”—we certainly knew what that meant!
Arriving to overly warm houses overflowing with relatives, being greeted and hugged, dishes transported from the car into the kitchen bustling with ladies in aprons and sensible shoes, pots, pans, and bowls already covering every conceivable surface, everybody talking at once.
Thanksgiving was a holiday of plenty—family, food, stories, laughter, hugs. If there was a TV, it wasn’t on. The focus of the day was about being together, enjoying each other, and being thankful for the bounty of the table.
Many second and third helpings were enjoyed before making way to the vast variety of cakes and pies that stood ready for hearty Thanksgiving appetites.
One of the first things did I before anyone took a bite was find my grandmother’s pecan pie, then keep an eye on it to be sure it didn’t all get away before I got there!
If football was present, it was played outside with the hope that my brother would go home with his good clothes intact. The only talk of Christmas was who was going to host the dinner.
There was no talk of Christmas shopping and the concept of Black Friday wasn’t even the twinkle in some merchant’s eye.
All of these memories tumbled back as I started making my grocery list for Thanksgiving.
My hope is that fond memories though different ones have been and will continue to be made at my house now that I am the old lady in the kitchen wearing the sensible shoes and apron.