Memories of Thanksgivings past
We all have Thanksgiving memories, and some of the best have nothing to do with turkey or stuffing. Our readers share some of their most memorable moments of this special holiday.
Three-room flat to a house
My favorite Thanksgivings happened years ago. I was a preteen. My parents and younger brother, Ira, would climb into our green Dodge sedan and make the trek from Avenue M in Brooklyn to Washington Avenue in Cedarhurst.
My Aunt Sylvia had a perfectly decorated table with turkey, stuffing and salads. The cozy charm of being in a house made the aroma of turkey and gravy even more inviting. Coming from a three-room apartment I was fascinated with the concept of "the dining room."
It was like a scene from "Mad Men." Everyone dressed for the occasion. My mom, aunt and their friends were in dresses, the men wore sport jackets.
The constant basting of the turkey meant fancy aprons tied around anyone who went near the oven. There were appetizers, soup and tempting pecan pie desserts. Each year it took hours to prepare, serve and clean up. I remember being glad I was just a kid and didn't have to work too hard to enjoy this banquet.
When it was time to go home, I told my brother that someday I would have a house like this and make Thanksgiving for him and his family. He looked at me and laughed.
I do have a home now and my family will sometimes come to enjoy Thanksgiving, and they are dressed in jeans. At this time every year, when the leaves start to change color I drive over to Washington Avenue pull my car over and stare at the imaginary green Dodge sedan parked in the driveway. My handsome dad, wearing a blue sport jacket and gray hat, wipes down the window with his favorite rag to keep his car immaculate. My mom climbs out of the front seat, careful not to get her dress and coat wrinkled. I have buckteeth and a huge appetite for delicious food I can't get at home.
The world has changed so much since then, but Thanksgivings in Cedarhurst hold cherished childhood memories of the family I loved so much. -- Phyllis Weinberger, North Woodmere
The early baby made us wait
On Nov. 27, 1997, Thanksgiving Day, our first grandchild was born. He wasn't due until the middle of December, but the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving that year, this "oven stuffer" let it be known that he was ready to join us for the holiday.
We arrived at Lenox Hill Hospital midafternoon, and after visiting briefly with our daughter, Liz - who told us it might take a while - we made our way to the small, crowded waiting room, joined soon by our son-in-law's sister and mother.
Meanwhile, our other daughter, Amy, Liz's twin, switched from a Minneapolis-to-Philly flight to one landing at LaGuardia. When Amy arrived, she spotted us, dropped her suitcase and ran toward us yelling, "Do we have a baby?"
Well, not yet. It was a going to be a long night.
With each passing hour, a jubilant new dad came bursting into the waiting room and left with excited family members to visit their new arrival. We sat. We paced. And more new dads arrived and left. By 10:30 p.m., we were the only ones on the maternity floor besides the hospital workers.
Finally, our son-in-law Larry reported that Liz would deliver by C-section. It wasn't until shortly after 6 a.m. that - exhilarated but exhausted - Larry, came toward us pushing a little crib. "It's a boy!" he announced triumphantly. We peered in at our beautiful, perfect little baby, named Robert.
We hugged, we kissed, we cried. And then - in the middle of the maternity floor, at 6:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, we did the hora, a dance of celebration. This month, we will dance the hora once again as we rejoice at Robert's bar mitzvah.
-- Linda Sussman, Merrick
We'll always have that Thanksgiving in Paris
It was 1967, and I was a 19-year-old living in Paris and studying at the Sorbonne. I had made friends among some of the students, and we had an international group composed of some American, English, and French students.
One in our bunch was a young secretary at the American Embassy. She had an apartment, while the rest of us merely rented rooms, so she invited us "chez elle" for Thanksgiving dinner.
From the "store" at the embassy, our pal was able to buy some treats, so we did have a festive, away-from-home American-style Thanksgiving meal. No cranberry sauce, but we made some kind of berry sauce. No turkey, but chicken was fine. No corn, but plenty of other vegetables. No pumpkin pie, but apple was great.
It was just fun and comforting to celebrate an American tradition together, many miles from home. -- Linda Kay, Kings Park
Saying goodbye to the single life
The year was 1982. It had been a year of much joy and sadness. I had met the love of my life and lost my father to a stroke. My new love, Ed, stood by Mom and me as we said farewell to our precious husband and dad in April.
That July, Ed proposed marriage. As we planned our wedding, we were excited and busy, looking toward the future. My older brother, Dave, was coming for Thanksgiving, and since I had asked him to give me away, we settled on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the wedding. It was a very busy time, but it all went so well.
Such a great Thanksgiving!
It was my last one as a single young woman, wondering what marriage would be like. Twenty-seven years later, I can truly say that Ed and I are still in a love that continues to grow and mature.
I will always remember that beautiful fall day when the sun shone through the church's stained-glass windows on Ed and me, as we began our life together. -- Ruth Pfeifer, Remsenburg