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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Old-time Pleasures of a Maine Thanksgiving

Not Christmas crackers, but Pilgrim crackers from Meri Meri. I love stuff like this. Already bought the festive Nutcracker-themed ones for Christmas dinner.

The bad news is that H.'s Mom went into the hospital today; looks like she had a mini stroke last night. She seems okay. The good news is that Waldo County Hospital, a tidy, cheerful little place, is minutes up the road from Pat and Martha's house in Belfast, so many of us took turns visiting. Dave and Sheila brought one of Martha's pretty blue and white china plates with Thanksgiving dinner, and some pie, too [also a Pilgrim cracker, shown above].

Martha and Pat [the brother closest in age to H.] made a hearty, delicious dinner. Pat is a carpenter and fitted a huge piece of plywood to the table, so 17 of us could fit around it. There were two turkeys, one from Martha's oven and one from Dave's; two big bowls of whipped potatoes; a sausage and sage stuffing, vegetarian stuffing and stuffing baked in a turkey; and five pies.

Some of the old-time comforts and traditions:
  • Yesterday afternoon, Punch and I helped Martha polish the silver. Wow. Time stops when you do this chore. I used to help Mom sometimes, too, using pink Gorham silver polish. Martha has Wright's Silver Cream. We donned rubber gloves and dabbed away. By the end, the flatware, the serving spoons, the teaspoons were gleaming. My favorite piece was the tiny, doll-sized silver spoon for the salt cellar. Punchy picked up a pie/cake lifter--to see herself in the mirrored surface.
  • Martha peeled a pile of apples for a big pie, and her house smelled great when that and the pumpkin pie were baking away. I made my pies at home on Tuesday and toted them up in my pie basket. Nothing feels more old-fashioned than taking out my Grandma Alice's worn wood rolling pin to do a crust.
  • I had a really good glass of apple cider from a local orchard. 
  • On the drive to dinner today, we passed a family walking up the hill with their wares. Pretty college-age daughters carrying generously sized pies. [I've seen some mighty ample pie dishes up here in Maine.]
  • Martha boiled a huge pot of Maine potatoes and then Punch, Sheila and I whipped them...with butter, milk, salt and pepper. I like Martha's trick of using some of the cooking water, too.
  • H.'s brother Mike brought a really beautiful pumpkin--as a bowl that held vegetables, cooked pumpkin, gooey melted was delicious, and eye-catching. 
  • John made cranberry sauce and this year, he added some sour cherries from the historic old tree in his front yard, just behind the picket fence.
  • Dave made a toast. Our nephew Matt made a toast. We wrote things down on Post-its and people read them at the table. I wrote Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel. --Shakespeare [Could have sworn it was Shakespeare, except now I just googled and see the quote attributed to Horace Walpole and written with that in place of both who's.] And Punch and I brought Pilgrim crackers from New Jersey--those are the festive things you open. They held tissue-paper crowns and silly jokes, like the one about a turkey being in a band with his drumsticks.
  • We [mostly Punch] played with dolls. We stroked the cats. She sewed a little, asking Martha for a needle and thread. Martha and Pat, like John, don't have a TV. Neither did H. when I met him. 
  • I just read a book to Punchy. And then Punchy read to me, pretending to be my mother [I was supposed to be 4 years old].
On the modern side, we talked to our nieces--Leah, Mariah and Anna--plus Mariah's husband, Ian,  via FaceTime between Maine and California. We had finished our turkey and they were still cooking theirs. We passed the cell phone around to talk to Figgy, who was at her boyfriend's Mom's Thanksgiving dinner in Montclair. Her boyfriend and our niece, Marissa, are at work tonight in retail stores. Figgy has a long shift tomorrow. Thanks to technology, she could text me questions as she made butternut squash soup and vegan cornbread.

Have I mentioned lately that I miss Dad? I miss you Dad, and it still seems strange that the world hums on without you, without your deviled eggs and mashed turnips on Thanksgiving, without your caring nightly phone calls, without your kind heart and smart brain. I miss you and love you.

Good night.

  1. I took a nap earlier today. I needed one. My back was hurting/tilted, probably from carrying bags in and out of car. The nap was nourishing.
  2. Taking this time to blog. I enjoy it. It soothes my mind and soul.
  3. I think I didn't overeat. I stopped when I was full.
  4. A few times today, I opened the back door of our hotel room and stood outside, breathing in the crisp air and the view of snow-topped cabin roofs, long rolling hill, water and glorious mountains. Will do it again before bed.


  1. I really loved this post. It sounds like you had a storybook Thanksgiving; Maine sounds wonderful. I hope your mother-in-law makes a speedy recovery. Love, Lin P.S. I know you still miss Uncle John, just like I will always miss my dad!

  2. Thanks, Lin. I think of Uncle Aldo a lot, too. I must be crafting more of a storybook view than might be real--without knowing it. Because as with most families, there are frictions.....but the moments I wrote about are real. love, al