Over past Thanksgivings, I have read of some families who have been getting together for their annual Thanksgiving dinner for their 80th or 90th year. When I first saw those numbers, I thought they must have dozens and dozens of cousins who throng together to carve up several large turkeys and gobble down lots of pumpkin pies. However, now that my family can claim to be having our 95th Thanksgiving together, I don’t think it is unusual at all. Since my parents got married in March of 1924, that’s when they had their first Thanksgiving dinner together. By the next year of 1925, they had their 5-month-old daughter with them and had their second Thanksgiving dinner as well. As their other children came along, they continued their annual dinners.
I can remember very well being at a Thanksgiving dinner in 1949 when we all went to the home of my one of my dad’s brothers, and had dinner with them. I remember walking into their house and seeing food everywhere, which meant there would be a lot of pots and pans to wash when the meal was over. While growing up, I always did a lot of dishes at home. (That’s what you get when you are a middle child as well as the sister in the middle of two brothers, because in those days, boys never had to do any of the dishes. They had to do outside work, but never inside work.) When I saw the big pile of pans on the stove, I dreaded the thought that I would be the one who had to wash them. But as soon as the last bite of pumpkin pie disappeared from the pie plate, one of my aunts took me aside and asked if I would like to go in the living room, and she would show me how to play the piano. Wow! Even if that was the only time I ever had a piano lesson, it was the best one! That’s because it was my ticket out of the kitchen, so no doing dishes for me that day. If I could go back and see what was going on in that kitchen, I’m sure mom and grandma were the ones out there scrubbing away. And as for my aunt, who wanted to give me a piano lesson, later in life I decided that was her ticket out of the kitchen, as well. I can say this because when the dishes were all done, so was my music lesson. And to this day, when I hear the term “Middle C,” I think of that Thanksgiving dinner when I learned where to find it. At a later Thanksgiving, I remember eating dinner while sitting on the steps of an open stairway of another uncle’s house. There wasn’t enough room at the table for all of us, but we didn’t mind because it was fun.
Since the passing of our parents, my siblings and I have always had a real Thanksgiving meal, even if it had to be held on the Sunday before the real Thanksgiving Thursday. And this year will be one of those years. We will be renting the Oxford Township Hall, so as to have room for everyone who shows up. It’s always a “pot luck,” but we make sure someone brings the turkey. So, if all of my parents’ children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, along with spouses, gather together that day, there could be as many as 100, who will be celebrating our 95th Thanksgiving family dinner together.
Maybe some of you, while reading this, will think back on your own parents’ first Thanksgiving and figure out what Thanksgiving it will be for you and yours. But not to worry, just be thankful to be together, because, as an unknown author once wrote, “Together — is the best place to be.” Enjoy!
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.