Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thanksgivings Past

Here it is November already; time is moving by so fast, I can't keep up with it. Thank goodness, we get an extra hour tonight with Daylight Savings Time ending (But I really need a least twelve extra hours.) Plans for this year's Thanksgiving are on my mind and with it memories of Thanksgivings past.  I'm not sure why, but we always spent Thanksgiving with Grandpa and Grandma Seames.  I hope Grandma Taylor wasn't sitting home all alone!  Maybe she spent Thanksgivings with Uncle Ron and his family.

Thanksgivings spent at Grandma Seames' little house on South Elm Street in Lapeer are the best memories! Coming in the front door, grandma would always exclaim, “Oh my goodness, you are getting so big!” giving us all a hug and a kiss. It didn't take much to be bigger than Grandma, she was so tiny.  Grandpa would be sitting there by the front door and the window, ready to tell us everything he had seen the neighbors doing from his perch. The house would be filled with the most delicious smells from grandma's cooking all day. The house warmed by the oven.

We would lay on the floor, maybe watch a little bit of TV or just stare into the fire in the living room furnace, kind of an early day gas fireplace. We couldn't wait for Thanksgiving Dinner, grandma was an excellent cook!

Finally, dinner was called and we all made our way to the big oval, oak table in grandma's dining room. The table pretty much filled the room, when all the leaves were used. An old brown towel sat on grandpa's chair for him to use on his lap. We kids all had our favorite glasses; glasses with cartoon figures (Originally filled with jelly or cheese) when we were younger, then when we were older, glasses with amber leaves and blue glasses with white sailboats. Those glasses would be filled with icy cold milk. The adults drank coffee made in grandma's drip coffee pot; the water was boiled then poured over the grounds to drip down below. I can smell it now; I love the smell of coffee, but I don't drink it. The table would be overflowing with food; huge bowls of mashed potatoes, stuffing piled high, the gravy boat full (With more gravy waiting in the kitchen,) green bean casserole with crunchy French fried onions, tossed salad with a mayonnaise dressing, cubes of cheese, dill pickles, sweet gherkins, olives, celery & carrot sticks in glass jars of water, radishes, brown and serve rolls with plenty of butter and strawberry jam. In later years, grandma started making this wonderful Strawberry Jello Salad, too. Of course, the main event at Thanksgiving dinner is always the turkey! It was browned to perfection and filled with the most delicious, savory dressing. Grandma Seames (Or Grandma Marg as my children would know her) sure knew how to cook!

Grandma Marg's Stuffing

1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
½ cup butter or margarine
3 qt. Dry Bread Cubes
1 teas Sage
Salt & Pepper to taste
½ cup giblet broth (or chicken broth)

Put giblets in salted water and cook until tender. If you wish, giblets can
be chopped up and added to stuffing.

Saute onion, celery and carrots in butter until onion is soften. Add sage,
salt & pepper; then remove from heat and add broth and bread
cubes. Put stuffing into turkey (Don't forget the neck cavity) and put
remaining stuffing into a greased bowl of pan to bake at 350 degrees for
one hour.

Grandma Marg's Strawberry Jello

1 – 6oz pkg strawberry Jello
¾ cup boiling water
1 can strawberry pie filling
½ cup pineapple chunks, drained
¼ cup marshmallows
whipped cream (Grandma used Dream Whip)

Add water to Jello, stirring well to dissolve. Let sit until thickened then
beat until fluffy. Fold in pie filling, pineapple, and marshmallows and
pour into a pretty glass bowl or mold. Chill. Top with whipped cream.

I can't remember if we ate dessert right away, but I think we might have waited for our swollen stomachs to recuperate a little. We would lay on the living room floor or if it was too hot, go into grandma's bedroom. There the air was frosty cool because of the little perfectly round hole in the window, grandma kept a Kleenex stuffed in it to block the breeze. I don't recall ever asking how that hole came to be in the bedroom window, it is curious.

Mom and grandma would wash the dishes as we lay in agony from having eaten too much. When we were older, I do remember helping with dishes. Mostly when we kids were in the kitchen, we were making a mess! Grandma had a little pass-through window from her kitchen to the dining room, she also had a little wheeled cart and a kitchen sink with a sprayer. This got our minds working. We would use the sprayer to fill shot glasses with water, put the glasses on the cart and wheel them to the window. Then placing orders from the dining room, we would play restaurant or more probably bar, passing the shot glasses and little demitasse spoons through the window. I don't ever remember getting in trouble with grandma for making such a mess, but dad might have gotten mad.

Finally it was time for dessert! Grandma made the spiciest pumpkin pie that we sprayed with whip cream from a can. Her apple pies were stuffed full with apples, the crust flaky. Grandma would make us each our own little pies.  Of course, we had French Vanilla ice cream with those pies. French Vanilla ice cream and cookies could always be had at grandma's; they always seemed to magically appear when used.

Grandma Marg's Pumpkin Pie

1 ½ cups pumpkin
1 cup milk
1egg, beaten
1 cup sugar 
1 Tab flour 
½ teas salt
¼ teas cinnamon
1/8 teas cloves
1/8 teas allspice
1/8 teas ginger
1/8 teas nutmeg 
1 unbaked pie shell

Mix ingredients together and pour into pie shell. Use pie shield
or foil to protect edges of crust from burning. Bake at 450 degrees
for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees for one hour. Cool
and serve with whipped cream.

After a wonderful day, we would all pile into the car for the trip home. That car would be pretty crowded, three in the front seat, dad, mom and one lucky child; the four of us kids in the back seat were pretty tightly packed. There was more than one complaint of elbows or someone being on someone else's side. The drive, of just a couple of blocks, seemed to take forever. The car windows would steam up from all our breaths. Eventually we would all pour out of the car and head inside to get ready for bed. Another Thanksgiving gone by.

Will my grandchildren have such fond memories of Thanksgiving at grandma's? I hope so, I use grandma's stuffing and pumpkin pie recipes, but sadly, no one seems to like her Strawberry Jello Salad. Wait a minute, I haven't tried it on Jessica or Hope yet; maybe I can still find someone to eat Strawberry Jello Salad with me!


  1. I'll try that Jello Salad Wendy -- It all sound so wonderful!

  2. Jessica loves Jello! Wendy those stories make me feel like i am right there. They are great.
    Now I am hungry!