"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dishwashers vs. Memories

Thanksgiving is coming.
And I am so thankful.
Family will be gathering here in our little house.
Our trip to the airport in Austin will be one of much excitement and anticipation.
Four generations together once again.

Jack and I filled our grocery cart last night.
He, in a thoughtful gesture, held up a plastic wrapped package of sturdy disposable plates.
"This would make it much easier for you," he suggested.
I kindly refused the offer.
"Let's just get some more detergent for the dishwasher,"
I replied, much to his puzzlement.
You see, my dear family crowded around our table is a most special and infrequent event.  And, in my mother's heart, it is all about celebration and memories--both reaching way back and actively moving onward.

These memories involve dishes that I ate off when I was a child.  Our small family of 6 sat at my grandmother's NYC 5th floor apartment where my father had grown up.
The table was small and full and traditional foods were served up with love and effort.
The Macy's parade marched on the small black and white TV
(hard to imagine today, isn't it??) and my mouth watered from the delicious fragrances in the kitchen.
It seemed like time stood still and that turkey would NEVER turn golden 
as my hunger grew.
Looking back, I can't imagine how a turkey even FIT in that small, apartment-sized oven.  But, it did.
And dinner was devoured--on these same china plates.

My mashed potatoes and turnips will be served in the same covered casserole, though the cups have such fine cracks that coffee can no longer be poured into them.  And there are only 5 plates left.  Not bad since theses dishes are over 100 years old.  They most certainly won't see the inside of a dishwasher but will lovingly be washed and dried.

As I stir the pumpkin pie filling, more recent memories are also being stirred.
 Back in the 1970's, my friends and I decorated our country houses (is that the correct terms for second hand and shared furnishings?) with corn husk dolls.
These old girls have weathered the years better than I.

This ceramic turkey held fresh flowers when he arrived at our house, presented by one of my patients from the cancer center and her husband who came to share dinner with us.
Although sadly she did not survive another month after their visit,  I smile to recall her life, our friendship and their presence at our table.

These stuffed little pilgrims and the lady Indian were bought at our small town local pharmacy/gift shop/convenience store.  
(This is where we called the pharmacist by his first name and he had been known to open his doors in the middle of the night if the need arose.)
The "boy" Indian wasn't available when I bought them that day, so she continues to stand alone.  My children and I played with them, enacting the first Plymouth Thanksgiving.  The figures show signs of wear from those days but that just makes them more dear.

These little pilgrims were intended to be candles but I could never burn them up!  The wax coating has chipped and they aren't particularly pretty anymore.  But they, along with the wax turkey candle, were given to my wee ones by my mother and dad for one of the early Thanksgivings.
We had packed up the little ones and Jack drove 7 hours through the night since children sleep more than fuss when the long car trip is made in the dark.
I recall the thrill of arriving at the Long Island house,
decorated and ready for us.  My dear mother was often in the kitchen, making great magic happen.  These little candles were placed on the laden table, one sitting at each child's plate.

That is why convenience and disposable plates are not really part of my idea of Thanksgiving.  And when my son teases me about the battered pilgrim candles (and he will)--"Why do you keep all this junk?",
I will just smile and not bother to argue or defend.
When I finally take off my apron and sit down at the table with a sigh of relief, I will look at each person, eyes bright in the candlelight, tummies grumbling, and know we are making new memories.
And I will be thankful.


  1. We wish our eyes were around your table for you to see. Love all the memories and the traditions that you hold for our family. We are blessed by having you lead this family indeed.

  2. Sharon, you have such a gift for writing! Wonderful memories abound around your kitchen and table!


  3. I am also thankful to sit at your thanksgiving table. It has been too long and I loved the little pilgrim man and woman.