Thanksgiving was the Old Woman's favorite holiday. Before they changed the date, it would sometimes fall on her birthday, which was a double bonus. More than Christmas, not being the religious type, she wanted her family around for the feast and opportunity to spend time together.
She always made quite a feast. I'm always amazed when I see other peoples' tables and there is MAYBE one green vegetable and 3-4 starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, rice?). The Old Woman's table was a study in the bounty of the garden. We often had 5-6 vegetables plus a veggie tray.
Always, on her table would be two small, very old turkey candles. Many years before, when her #3 son was just a tiny child, they were shopping for thanksgiving foods and he picked the two little candles up and asked if they could buy them. They cost $0.15 for the pair, but being farmers, that was too much to spend on something they couldn't eat. She had to explain to her little boy that they couldn't afford to buy them. He fished around in his pockets, and came up with 15 cents that he'd saved from finding pennies and other dropped coins, and said that he could buy them for her. The sweetness of his generosity and not understanding their poverty meant that the turkeys became a cherished part of the family celebrations.
Another way she made holidays festive was her special cut glass collection of drinking glasses. They were acquired, one at a time, with green stamps and grocery store promotions. No two were alike and the were all vibrant colors and featured various designs. Most of us had a favorite we would claim, holiday after holiday. Mine was a deep purple glass, which I recently "rescued" from the Old Folks' home after the Old Man moved west.
A few years ago, the Old Woman insisted that I stop coming home for thanksgiving because she feared that I would be utterly lost once she was gone if I never had the chance to make my own traditions first.
Now, my tradition is largely to stay at home, make a non-traditional meal, and cry over losing her. I'm pretty sure she'd disapprove.
But, to not bring you down too, here's a picture of rosemary gougeres I made to nibble on. This year, I'm doing a beef tenderloin roast with coffee chile rub, twice baked potatoes, spinach sauteed with shallots and garlic, parker house rolls, and a pumpkin pie.
Well, that is one bit of tradition from the Old Woman; getting up early and making a pie first thing.