Thanksgiving is family

I found a poem written by Edgar A. Guest at the beginning of the twentieth century. He began his career at the age of 14 in 1895. His column was syndicated in over three hundred newspapers. He became known as “The Poet of the People.”


‘Twas this the mother always said.

“Be thankful for your daily bread

And thankful for your strength to bear

Whatever comes of hurt and care.

Make every day Thanksgiving day!

At table bow your heads and pray

And give your hearts to God above

In gratitude for all His love.

Be thankful for the loveliness

Of earth in every season’s dress;

The springtime green, the summer rose,

And autumn’s glorious, golden close.

Be thankful for your blessings all:

The happy memories you recall;

For time, which every heartache mends,

And, oh, be thankful for your friends!”

Tis the season for remembering all that we have. There is a hymn called “Come Ye Thankful People Come”. I learned it as a small child attending Grace Lutheran Church in Dunkirk, NY. It reminds everyone to be thankful for everything that is part of their life. I hope we sing it for our Thanksgiving service.

There is something to be said for all of the seasons of the year especially in our area. Each season has its own specialty. Although we think of giving thanks during the fall season, there is certainly time to give thanks for all seasons.

For me the autumn is the prettiest season of the year. This year in particular fall was beautiful. The colors of the leaves were exquisite. The peak seemed to last over several weeks. I enjoyed all of it even though there was a pandemic. I was able to see the beauty from my home or on rides in nearby areas.

Also, the fall means the end of the harvest season. I think that was how thanksgiving got its start. People gathered to give thanks for a bountiful harvest.

People who were new to this country were blessed with a harvest that would sustain them throughout the winter.

I was always glad when we took the last things from the garden. That meant that canning season finally came to an end. While I enjoyed canning, it was hard work. It seemed like I had a pot of water on the stove for the whole autumn season so that I was ready to put things into canning jars.

Remember the people in your life as well. Our family is our richest heritage. The people we grew up with are important. They are the ones we think of when we think of giving thanks.

I remember the first thanksgiving celebrations were at my great-grandfather’s house. Their cook made all of the food except for the dishes the relatives contributed. We ate around the dining room table. I have an apron that was mine from that time. It was small and was just for me because I was the only youngster present. I came with my grandma and grandpa.

After we ate, we all helped with the clean-up. I remember a towel in the kitchen that was by the sink. It was circular – never ending. That was the towel where we dried our hands. I could help put things away since I knew where most of the dishes went.

The next celebration I remember was when my grandmother did the cooking. At that time, we had a living room and dining room. We usually set up a buffet on the dining room table. The children filled their plates and ate at the kitchen table. Grandma always had applesauce. That was something that she could eat. Cranberries bothered her, but she made them for the rest of us.

After that my aunt hosted Thanksgiving. We went to her house in the late afternoon because Uncle Bob was a policeman and usually worked the holiday. We ate when he was done working. I really don’t remember the food, but I remember playing with my cousins.

Once I got married, we had our thanksgiving on the farm. We took turns hosting it. Sometimes my mother-in-law cooked. Sometimes my sister-in-law cooked. Sometimes I cooked. We all contributed food so it was not too much work for anyone.

One year we had a family reunion for Thanksgiving. That year I had company staying at my house. Laurie and Keith and their family stayed with us. The children loved to go to the barn. The family went to the firehall in Frewsburg. I took pies and a relish tray. I remember that Laurie loved the piecrust that was made with lard rendered from our pigs. Since she was picky about what she ate I hated to tell her what I used.

Thanksgiving has always been family time. This year we are being told not to gather as usual. One governor has limited gatherings to ten people. I am not sure what my family is doing. With children away at college things are not exactly normal. I cannot wait for COVID to be behind us so things can get back to normal. I have a feeling though that the normal that we were used to is gone forever.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net


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