TALES FROM THE CAVE FAMILY: THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS
Christmas lights have been going up in my current neighborhood since Halloween. Christmas decor has been available at the hobby stores since Spring. I’ll confess they’ve already worn me out. I’ll be doing my own decorating today, but not with the joy the task used to bring.
Autumn is my favorite season and it used to get its fair share of attention. The bright colors of fallen leaves, chrysanthemums, marigolds and pansies reigned over September, October and November. Instead of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving marked the day the Christmas decorations blossomed. I miss it more than I can say.
Thanksgiving at the Caves
Mom was big on decorating. Every season got its due. For Thanksgiving she liked to make elaborate decorations on Styrofoam platforms with cornucopia, fake fruit and colorful leaves. I particularly remember a set of candles she had, a pair of pilgrims and a colorful turkey.
Most people I know have their holiday dinners in the late afternoon or early evening. That wasn’t the case at the Cave household. We had our big meal at lunchtime. I can’t even tell you why we did it that way. It was just our tradition. Perhaps it was a holdover from our farming heritage. A huge meal midday and leftovers for the late evening.
Our Thanksgiving dinner was one of the few meals we ate in the dining room. Mom would begin setting the table days in advance. The spotless white linen tablecloth, gleaming silver flatware, colorful place mats, festive napkin rings surrounding crisp napkins – it was all very Southern Living Magazine.
And the Frankoma Ware
My mom loved dishes. For everyday use we had an odd assortment of tacky plates gathered from a variety of sources. Some were leftovers from a time they changed the china at Dad’s work. He rescued the white plates with their rings of burgundy and black, because he said they held the heat of the food better than our other plates. (Mom hated them, by the way, and secretly rejoiced whenever one broke.) I can’t even tell you where the rest came from. They were just everyday plates you set out with the jelly jar glasses for homemade meals.
But on most special occasions Mom pulled out the Frankoma Ware. She had a set of Christmas China and a very formal set of fine porcelain, but those were saved for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, or maybe a birthday if you were lucky and in her very good graces. For everything else, from Sunday dinner to Thanksgiving, you got Frankoma Ware.
Mom’s collection of Frankoma Ware was impressive. You name it, she had it, from the Wagon Wheel Sugar and Creamer to every imaginable shape and size of serving dish. We even had individual side plates especially for corn on the cob! On Thanksgiving it all came out, even the tumblers.
Now the tumblers were a bone of contention. Dad loved his iced tea and had a huge glass of it at dinner and lunch. He was very particular about what it was served in. He didn’t want any of that plastic stuff and the glass needed to be clear so he could see that the tea was the right strength. He liked to watch the sugar melt as he stirred.
The Frankoma Ware tumblers were not see through and they were probably a third of the size of his usual tea glass. He made his displeasure known in an assortment on non-verbal passive-aggressive methods, including multiple trips to the kitchen for refills. Each refill required an elaborate stirring and tasting ritual, not required with his usual iced tea glasses.
The Usual Schedule
The turkey went into the oven in the wee hours of the night to be ready for the mid-day meal. By breakfast time, the giblet gravy was on the boil and cornbread dressing in a large pyrex baking dish was ready for the oven. Yes, we had green bean casserole, but the funniest thing to me was the relish dish. Each holiday Mom used a huge sectioned platter to create a crudites extravaganza – celery sticks, tomato slices, pickles, olives and more, spread out in a glorious array – and after each meal, it looked just like it did at the beginning of the meal.
As the baking and cooking progressed, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade offered entertainment in the den. Dad held court from his recliner. The females rotated in and out according to what was being prepared at any given time. The second the parade was over, dinner was served.
I had a delightful Thanksgiving dinner with some of my husband’s relatives this year, but it is always a bittersweet day. Regardless of the quality, quantity or elegance of the repast, all I really want is cornbread dressing made with the Mobley recipe and a few olives from Mom’s relish dish. I had no idea of the value of those days when I lived through them. In fact, if asked I would have probably complained of mediocre food and boring conversation. How blind we can be!
Ruth and George are gone, so their house will be empty during this holiday season. I hope, even now, someone is planning to come to our Open House on Sunday and they will fall in love with 10935 Carissa. The home has been completely renovated and is waiting to help another family make unforgettable holiday memories.