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Grateful for Cherished Thanksgiving Memories

November 22, 2017


A Month–Not Just a Day–of Thanks


Second Post of Week 4.  Grateful for Cherished Thanksgiving Memories


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



On this Thanksgiving Eve of 2017, I am sharing with my WORDWALK readers the first piece in my holiday book, which spans from Thanksgiving through January.  The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season includes three Thanksgiving pieces, nine Christmas pieces, two post-Christmas pieces, one New Year’s Eve short story, and three January pieces.  Comprised of short stories, memoirs, poems and essays–my collection offers a variety of holiday reading.


After you read the following memoir, you are welcome to post a comment about a special Thanksgiving memory of yours.  If you are a reader of WORDWALK and prefer not to comment, please consider just giving this blog post a “like.”  Thank you!



Thanksgiving Vignettes:


A Cornucopia of Thanks for Family and Friends around the Thanksgiving Table



My earliest recollection of Thanksgiving was most likely the celebration in 1955 when I was five years old.  A large family gathering squeezed around the expansive table of my maternal grandmother.  The very high-ceiling room was a combination of kitchen, dining room, and sitting room behind the grocery store and to the south side of the Italian bakery with its brick oven–which, after the death of my grandfather, was no longer in use.  In my mind’s eye, I see the room in a blur of blue, brown, and beige.  I remember nothing of the abundance of food, but I do remember an abundance of chatter.  As a very young child, I waited for a lull in the conversation; however, in my Italian-American family, the chance for a lull in the conversation was as likely as my holding on to the right end of the wishbone.  How distinctly I recall being overwhelmed by everyone’s talking!  My clearest recollection is thinking that I would never get a word in edgewise.


Of course, I do have family members who are masters of the fine art of conversation and who do love to talk.  Thus, having grown up in such an extended family, I find myself more comfortable around people who like to talk.  Yes, I am thankful for talkative family members and friends.


During the remainder of the 1950s and the 1960s, my extended family celebrated Thanksgiving at my Aunt Zita’s Italian restaurant.  Since the restaurant was closed on Thanksgiving Day, we ate in the largest room of the restaurant–the bar room.  Parallel with the oak bar, we pushed together at least three long tables so that about thirty or so of us could dine together.  Either my Aunt Zita and/or my dad would roast a big turkey.  While Aunt Zita always made the Italian-style, fried green beans and mashed potatoes, other family members carried in a variety of beautiful dishes for our Thanksgiving buffet.  Fran, the aunt of my cousin Carole, always brought oyster dressing, which I would never even think of tasting.  My mother, who would have marked her 100th birthday on November 25, 2014, would always bring my favorite–polenta dolce, an Italian cream of wheat dessert, breaded and fried.  Since she was known for her delicious and picture-perfect pies, she frequently brought to the gathering pumpkin , lemon meringue, or my sister and cousin Donald’s favorite chocolate pie.  In addition to carrying in the homemade pasta (noodles) and fresh cranberries, my mother always made her favorite from the 50s–a lemon Jell-O with shredded carrots, chopped celery, and crushed pineapple; she topped this double-recipe with walnut halves.  Not until I was much older did I develop a taste for this gelatin salad.


The bounty of roasting pans, baking dishes, and desserts were arranged on three large round tables in front of the south windows of the restaurant.  What a spread of photogenic delights!    When everyone had passed through the buffet line and sat down at the one very long table, we knew our entire family was truly blessed.  Most often, someone urged my older sister to say the grace-before-meals.  “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Bless us, oh Lord, and these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.”  Those of us who were Catholic crossed ourselves again; then, we all ate the remarkably delicious food.  Sometimes, we waited a while to have dessert.


On one of these Thanksgivings, a rare November snow began to fall on our small Hoosier town.  By midafternoon, the view outside the restaurant’s large front windows was, amazingly, a Christmas-card snapshot of a winter wonderland of these Hoosier hills with the snow-covered Blanford Park in the background.  How I remember that picturesque snowflake splendor of a Thanksgiving Day when our extended family still lived within a short radius of each other!


May your Thanksgiving be blessed with good conversation, delicious food,

touching memories, and the love of family and friends!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


On November 26, 2014 (Wednesday), I first posted this memoir on WORDWALK.


BOOKNOTE:  Today is the third day of my virtual book tour.  On this November 22, you may visit the following host blog site to see my book’s banner and to read two other excerpts of my holiday book:

Thanks to librarian Judith and also blogger Stacey  for being two of the fifteen hosts of my book’s Blurb Blitz Tour!


November 22, 2017, Wednesday



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