Thanksgiving. Plain and simple. It's my favorite holiday. There are no expectations except to be thankful for your life. How much better can a holiday be. Great food and thankful.
For me, Thanksgiving is peaceful. There is no running around buying presents or decorating. It's the calm before the storm, so to speak. Growing up, it was always a family holiday, spent with my mom's family. I remember waking up to wonderful smells on Thanksgiving morning (my favorite smell--the celery and onions sauteing butter.). Mom was always a bit frantic, trying to get as much done as possible before the family arrived. After breakfast, it was time to help and I was always in charge of three things:
1. Put together the relish tray: cleaning the green onions (I still don't know why anyone eats them!); filling the celery with some kind of cheese spread or peanut butter; cleaning and peeling radishes and carrots. I remember when I was in seventh grade I learned how to make radish roses. I spent forever making them so the relish tray would look nice. No one noticed and I never made them again.
2. I wish I had a dollar for every potato I peeled for a holiday meal. To this day, I hate peeling potatoes. I always thought one of my younger sisters would grow into the job, but I don't think they ever did...even when I complained. I'm sure I'll hear from them when they read this and they'll tell me everything they did for the holiday meals.
3. Getting down the "good china" and setting the adult table for dinner. I didn't always get to sit at the adult table, but I got to set it! One of my uncles brought the china back for Mom when he was stationed in Germany. It's beautiful and I love it. It goes to me when Mom passes away, but I don't know if I will ever use it. Maybe. We'll see. I haven't grown into a very fancy person.
One of my favorite memories from those years is of my maternal grandfather. The women would be in the kitchen, mashing potatoes, stirring gravy, checking the sweet potatoes, and he would sit in the corner of the kitchen, always in the way. Mom said he was sneaking a shot out of the liquor closet when he sat there, because Grandma would only let him have a beer or two. All I know is that now, whenever someone is just standing around in the kitchen and getting in the way, we call them Grandpa Ellifritz...and smile.