Special to the Tribune-Star
The old song goes, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.” But I, as a small child, did not have to cross the river. My grandparents lived about 17 miles from where I lived and I didn’t have to cross the Wabash to get there. Like most Thanksgivings, the center of the attention was on the food. And it was always delicious.
At the Mott farm, we ate what they grew. Thanksgiving was not much different. We had pork, which had been butchered the autumn months ahead of Thanksgiving, chicken, guinea, and sometimes a turkey. There were mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, and creamed corn. Both cream and brown gravies were available to those who wanted a choice. Also, we had cranberries that were purchased at the store, candied apples, and boiled cabbage. The pies came from their fruit trees and they were generally from home-canned peaches, apples, and cherries. And someone would usually bring a persimmon pudding. It was all very sweet and tasty. If you were any kind of a Hoosier, you would have felt right at home.
Grandma would often have me give the blessing. That had started early on because I was a gabby kid. She had hopes of me becoming a minister, but a microphone got in the way of the pulpit.
After dinner, the women would retire to the kitchen to clean up what was not eaten at the first sitting, and those who had to leave always got plates full to carry home. In the afternoon, the men talked of politics of the day and I would listen but was still too young to join in their conversations.
My Aunt Etha would measure me and my younger brother and we would know we were getting something to wear for Christmas. Aunt Etha was a pack-rat. She saved about everything. She even made baskets out of bread wrappers and then cut up egg shell cartons of various colors to make flowers that went in the baskets. She was a wonderful person to be around. She did not have any children of her own, but dearly loved her nieces and nephews. She doted on all of us.
In the evening we would retire to my Mother’s family where we would exchange names for Christmas giving and sample the many desserts that had been collected there. It was a grand time, and it was a time before families were scattered to the wind and we could all get together by driving less than an hour to a gathering point.
My daughter, who lives in Canada, misses Thanksgiving more than any other holiday because of these reasons. As she was growing up, we worked very hard to keep the traditions alive.
I will spend this Thanksgiving with family here, give thanks for the day, and stuff myself in the good old American way.
Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.