I asked my mom to share some of the memories she had of Thanksgiving. She immediately started talking about her aunt Eileen. It seems that Eileen hosted most of the Thanksgiving dinners in the family. She was one of Bumpa’s older sisters. She and her husband had one child, David. They lived in an old house with and Antique Shop connected off the back.
Aunt Eileen wasn’t the greatest cook, but she tried really hard. One year, she neglected to beat the eggs before she added them to the pumpkin pie. When the first slice of that pie was cut, a solid, hard cooked egg yolk was waiting inside.
On another occasion, Eileen’s son, who was in the military, sent home a hunk of Moose from Alaska. They didn’t have turkey that year. The roast moose was delicious, but never repeated. Bumpa’s family weren’t known for their gastronomic adventures.
Many years later, after Mom and Dad were married and I was tagging along, we went over to visit Eileen. Knowing that my dad was a big eater, she offered him a piece of pie. Dad, a true blue pie lover, said yes. What she brought him, however, was the only kind of pie he hates: mincemeat. She cut him an extra large piece and handed it to him, telling him that she had made the mincemeat herself. As she left the room to serve others, Dad pled with mom to help him eat it. Eileen returned with Mom’s normal sized piece at that moment, so Dad was stuck. With a woeful look, he began eating the pie. Seeing that he had eaten the entire piece, Eileen jumped up and said, “Here, let me get you another!” Before he could refuse, she had another piece in front of him. Poor Dad.
By the time I came on the scene, the big Thanksgiving gatherings were a thing of the past. Sometimes, when we were stationed close enough, we’d travel back to upstate New York for Thanksgiving with my grandparents. Sometimes, they’d come visit us. Mostly, though, it became a meal served for just our immediate family. My last Thanksgiving dinner at home was my senior year in high school. My dad was TDY (read gone for 3 months at the military’s request). I needed to have my wisdom teeth removed, so Mom scheduled it for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, thinking I’d have plenty of time to recover. We had our traditional meal the week before. I spent that Thanksgiving in a pain pill induced fog, sipping a second Thanksgiving meal through a straw. UGH.