Thanksgivings during my childhood were generally spent with relatives on my Mom’s side of the family. “Over the River and through the Woods” was commonly sung as we made our way from Walpole to Chichester. We generally dined at the large farm house of Ben and Eleanor Shaw on Bear Hill in Chichester. Ellen (Rowell) Shaw was the niece of Nana Perkins (Alice M Brown Perkins). I always thought that there was such a crowd of people around the large dinning room table: Ben & Eleanor and their two children Carl and Pat (much older than Peter and I), Aunt Bell (Eleanor’s mother and sister-in-law of Nana Perkins), Nana Perkins, Mom & Dad, Peter, Richard, and I and later our younger sister, Gale). On rare occasion, Aunt Helen (Mom’s sister) and her son Jerome would join us.
The fare was nearly always the same: a huge turkey, giblet dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash, and boiled onions. Once or twice lobster was added to the table, particularly for Nana Perkins. Dessert was always the traditional apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies. Eleanor made the best pies!
As young adults the tradition of place and people changed (not fare). There were not new family members consisting of the spouses the four Woodward siblings. We seemed to alternate years with the families of our spouses and it was more difficult, particularly after we started having children. It was not uncommon in those days for as many as twenty four family members around my table (tables that is). It was always a special time.
But then my second husband and I moved to Georgia and it was not easy getting back to New England for Thanksgiving with my family. So many Thanksgivings here in Georgia were spent with some of Charles friends and co-workers until his health began to decline. Even when we did dine with others, I just had to cook a Thanksgiving meal at home.
Recently I was invited to join other “orphans,” as we called ourselves – some of the staff of the National Archives who had no family or none near enough to be able to share the day. I’m looking forward to another delightful Thanksgiving dinner with wonderful friends! This year my brother Richard will be with us.
I’m thankful everyday for my many blessings, but always feel extra gratitude this time of year for my family and friends. I love Thanksgiving Day!
© Linda Woodward Geiger. All rights reserved.