Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Even as a little boy when you’d think it would be just like any other day, just me and my mother and father at the dinner table, it was special.
Instead of the usual meatloaf or tuna casserole, or “potato bargain” … a concoction of sliced potatoes and ketchup (we were poor), Mom would cook up a big turkey with all the trimmings: stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, brown bread and cranberry sauce. The whole caboodle. That was the only time of the year when they allowed me to sip a glass of Madeira wine. Since there were only the three of us, we would have turkey leftovers … turkey sandwiches, turkey soup or turkey salad for days afterward.
After dinner, we would go to my grandmother’s house where there would be a nice warm fire in a giant pot-bellied stove. Kale soup might be cooking on the kitchen stove for supper.
It always seemed to be cold, and snow would cover the ground in those days. In high school, when Old Rochester was brand new, everyone would bundle up and go to the football game, even my parents who could not have cared less about sports. It was all about starting new traditions. My wife’s brother, who is in his sixties now, still plays touch football with his friends from school every Thanksgiving morning. Now they play with their own kids and grandkids. There’s a tradition!
One Thanksgiving, my uncle Marno was in the hospital in Boston. Dad and his brother Robbie drove up to visit him. Not being familiar with the city, they promptly got lost. To add insult to injury, the car broke down on Storrow Drive! Repairs made, they found their way to the hospital, saw uncle Marno and made it home by supper time. We were thankful for that. Uncle Marno recovered and even made history. He had his larynx removed due to cancer and learned to talk within a week. Doctors from as far away as California came to see him because they couldn’t believe it. Even more to be thankful for.
After marriage and our kids came along, Thanksgiving dinner was always at my bride’s parents’ house. With her six siblings, and as the family grew with assorted spouses and children, it became pretty crowded. When preparing dinner for such a large brood got too much for my mother-in-law, we celebrated the holiday at my in-laws’ country club where my father-in-law was president. A step up for a poor barber’s son from little old Mattapoisett. On the drive to the club, we would sing the old Thanksgiving chestnut, Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s … club!
Everyone is older now and living far apart. The extended family doesn’t get together for dinner anymore. Some have passed away.
Our kids are grown, living in different places, but they still come home for Thanksgiving. There are just the four of us, no grandkids, but we still have days’ worth of leftovers, though my son takes a drumstick home with him.
Thanksgiving is still special and still my favorite holiday. This year marks my 10th year living with cancer. What more can one be thankful for?
Editor’s note: Mattapoisett resident Dick Morgado is an artist and retired newspaper columnist whose musings are, after some years, back in The Wanderer under the subtitle “Thoughts on ….” Morgado’s opinions have also appeared for many years in daily newspapers around Boston.
By Dick Morgado