Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

Flowers in vintage industrial mold from Bow Street Flowers

Holidays always seem to spark memories.  I have many more Christmas memories than I do Thanksgiving memories but I do remember my grandfather, who lived next door with my grandmother, going to pick up my great grandparents so they could have Thanksgiving dinner with us.  My grandfather, the son and grandson of Baptist ministers, was a very stern man.  He and my grandmother always ate dinner with us and there were strict rules.  Children were not to speak unless spoken to at the dinner table.  My father worked very long hours so my grandfather was the disciplinarian.  A few severe trangressions resulted in my brother and I having to go in search of switches which we subsequently received across our backsides. He was always gruff and barked orders like Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.  My grandfather loved the west and I'm sure John Wayne was a role model. 

My grandparents actually took me to see True Grit at the theater.  I was a young boy, probably too young to see it, and I had no interest in it.  I swear it ran for about 12 hours.  I would have fallen into the rattlesnake pit than spend another minute in that theater. 

Another thing I recall about Thanksgiving is sitting around a the table after dinner playing card games.  There were bunches of red and green grapes, all filled with seeds that my mother insisted would block your bile duct if you swallowed them.  My mother had her gall baldder taken out so we assumed she was an expert on things that would block our bile ducts. 

I also recall bowls of mixed nuts.  I have to wonder, in today's world of immediate gratification--cell phones, texting, Twitter and a movement of people demanding jobs right now--if nuts in their shells are an anachronism.  Are people still willing to crack in to a whole pecan and pick out the morsels from the broken shell?  It seems like a lot of work to go to when I can buy the same shelled nuts in a plastic container and just dump it in a bowl, ready to eat a handful at a time.
As I watched the 24-hour news station last Saturday morning while enjoying my Keurig coffee, I surfed through 900 some-odd channels of television shows and movies-on-demand and I saw a listing for True Grit.  I was curious about about the movie and I hit record on my DVR.  I watched the movie later that evening through different eyes. 

My grandfather died when I was a teenager so there are a lot of things I never had a chance to ask...or to iron out.  Seeing those panoramic landscapes must have been breathtaking on the big screen.  My grandfather would have really appreciated that knowing my mother has boxes and boxes of photographic evidence taken of scenery from my grandparent's trips out west.  I can't say I loved the movie but I enjoyed it...and perhaps I understand him just a little bit better.

I hope to make this Thanksgiving a little slower than usual.  I'll use my everyday plates mixed with some of my grandmother's transferware and other odd pieces I've found here and there over the years.

Carrots and Parsnips image via MarthaStewart, Brussels Sprouts via Pinterest
We'll enjoy a tradtional Thanksgiving dinner at the Urban Cottage. A four-day weekend is a vacation for me and I'll spend that time with family and friends with whom I can make new memories...hopefully better and more clear than the fading ones.  

And I have a bowl of mixed nuts.  They will just sit on the table waiting to see if anyone will take the time to slow down and enjoy them. 

* * * * *

This year I'm particularly thankful for the new friends, both local and worldwide, that blogging have made possible. I never could have imagined when I started this blog to document the process of getting a variance to add a porch to the front of my house, that anyone would be interested in what I had to say, or that I would make new friends, or that a magazine would want to photograph from my house in their decorating book.

For this new world of opportunities and for all of you, I am extrmely thankful. 

I hope you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  1. Your plates are beautiful, they are almost soaked in sepia tones and memories.
    I never met my grandparents but when my dad was dying he was so high on morphine that he started to hallucinate, he saw John Wayne, I was horribly upset at first but then I thought, you know if you are dying and John Wayne is riding to towards you - well....ok crying now.

  2. I had a grandfather who was an old rooster too. I'm surprised you were allowed to play cards!
    This is a lovely post and except for the brussel sprouts my mouth is all awater.
    Love your dishes too but you already know that.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. I'm currently cleaning in prep for hosting 18 family & friends myself. I hate to cook, but the guests pitch in with side dishes, so all I have to do are the turkey & a few sides. I was 11 when True Grit came out, and barely recall it, but the Glen Campbell theme song takes me right back to a summer day in my backyard. I saw the new version and it was much better, but still didn't love it. Anyway, I hope your Thanksgiving is all you are dreaming of...I do love your blog!

  4. I put out a bowl of mixed nuts in shells too, but I've only ever had one guest actually crack them open.

    Have a nice Thanksgiving, Steve. I am grateful for all of the eye candy and advice you've given along the way.


  5. I enjoy reading your blog and check in often to see what's going on in your world. You never disappoint.

    After seeing the picture of the brussel sprouts, I now know what I'm bringing as a side dish tomorrow!

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. I always loved cracking nuts at the holidays when I was a kid. Hazelnuts were and are my favorite. Its funny that they were only out during the holidays and were a treat of sorts in a simpler time with only about 5 TV channels.
    My grandfather was one one the gentlest but very masculine men I have ever known and I always remember him around Thanksgiving.
    Have a great day with your family.

  7. Steve, I loved reading about your holiday memories. Funny how our kid eyes are so different from how we see things now. I guess it's really true that some things from our childhoods shape who we are and what we do today. I could write a list!
    I thought the nut memory was funny....I always remember bowls of walnuts at Thanksgiving with the nutcrackers laying next to them. I don't think I've ever owned a nutcracker in my life! :)

    I wish you the best Thanksgiving holiday. Enjoy your long weekend and all your new memories.

  8. Really lovely post. Bittersweet memories. Marvelous flowers. Thanks for sharing.

  9. A touching post for Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful day with your family and friends!


  10. Steve,

    I have alot of the same memories. The first thing on Thanksgiving Day my Mom would play our French Christmas music. We all knew at that moment the Holidays were officially here. I made a cassette copy of that music about 30 years ago-give or take a few. My girls grew up with the same tradition. When my Mom passed, my Dad gave away all those old albums-my treasured music was on one of them. I still listen to what I have left of it. I don't know who sang it or what the name of the album was, but I'm right back in that kitchen when I listen to it.

    Oh, we had apples and oranges on the table with our nuts. And Ribbon Candy. I can still smell the fruit. I think things made such a huge impression on us because life's trappings were simpler.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Wow I'm sorry,your grandfather sounds like a meanie.
    It appears you've worked out some forgiveness or understanding. Why do we always have to be the bigger people?

    I love your arrangement with the anemones. Perfect for you, will done Shelley.

    Have a lovely dinner and weekend with your people.

    I have not found you a hard nut to crack at all.

    Thank you for making me laugh in such an irreverent fashion.

    xo Jane

  12. My sister says that I've purposely blocked out most of my childhood and that's not true. I just choose not to remember it. If I try really hard, little rays of depressing crap bleeds through so...
    but I do remember someone cracking open a walnut and me digging out the "meat" of it with that sharp pick thing. Such disappointment.
    But Hey, the last few years have been quite delightful!
    Happy Thanksgiving and here's to Brand New Memories!
    (Don't hate me but I kind like John Wayne and I watched the NEW True was "ok" and of course I cried when the horse died.
    :D - Cindi

  13. Thanks to you Steve and your great photos. No Thanksgivng memories of grandparents: but my great grandparents lived in a cellar- no house above it. My great grandfather ate peas and honey with a knife. My great-grandmother braided her hair at night after putting bread dough in a giant pan to rise until morning. She hung her corset on a hook in the bedroom before she put on her white flannel nightie. I slept between the two of them when I stayed over. There was a painting in the dining room of Jesus. I thought it was a picture of God

  14. Happy Thanksgiving, Steve! I'm thankful to have you as a friend. I remember True Grit very well. I remember one summer evening we all loaded up in our car to go see it at the drive in movie. I was very small...but remember the movie very well. I knew my father was very anxious to see it but as a family we could not afford to see it at the theater. We had to wait till it came out at the cheaper drive in.

    At the Dad looked like a dark haired Glen Campbell complete with sideburns.

    I do remember bowls of nuts with a nutcracker included sitting on the coffee table at the holidays. As kids we'd crack a few and then get tired and move on. I remember my Grandfather cracking them and sharing them. And you always got a piece of the bitter part...remember that?

    Good memories....

  15. I enjoyed reading your memory post this morning. I had quite a different childhood, and my grandparents were pretty traditional I think. Nana was an expert pie baker and years later we still compare the pie to see if it was as good as Alice would make. I loved reading about the mixed nuts, so true! Never thought of it that way, but I have continued getting mixed nuts every year, but this one! I glanced at them in the store, and decided not to get them...maybe I have gone to the dark side now!? You do have a lot to be thankful for~I feel the same way. Happy Thanksgiving. Now what about that store...

  16. My favorite Thanksgiving memory is the year we drove into New York for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I was probably about 10 years old. After the parade we ate the most wonderful lunch at Cafe des Artistes, an iconic NY restaurant, which, sadly, is no longer in business. It was a very exciting and elegant way to spend the holiday.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  17. The part about the "mixed nuts" really spoke to me and made me laugh out loud and if you knew my family you would understand why!(notice I spelled out lol,no short cuts or the fast lane for me) I "get" what you are saying....we all need to slow down and "go for the gusto", so to speak. Can hardly wait for my grandchildren to get here today....we may hop up and do "the Hokey Pokey" during dinner, you never know.

  18. Thank you all for sharing your memories. What a treat!
    Sara, stopping dinner to do the Hokey Pokey would be an incredible memory. Go for it!

  19. Hello, Steve! We don't have thanksgiving in Brazil. We don't get to see much of a change in seasons throughout the year, but I do try to remember to be thankful and count my blessings once in a while.
    And I am certain you remembered me, writing all the way from Brasília, from the middle of the great brazilian plains, when you mentioned your friends worldwide! so happy thanksgiving to you too!

  20. Yes, Isabel; I always love it when you stop by all the way from Brisilia. Obrigado!

  21. Happy Thanksgiving to you dear friend!
    xo Dianne

  22. Happy Thanksgiving weekend and a well-deserved vacation for you. Sounds like some interesting memories - a mix of difficult and confusing and also wonderful things (like most memories!).

    I am a major nuts-in-shells lover. It is a childhood thing. My Dad sat for hours cracking nuts and lined up rows of shelled nuts on the kitchen counter for me to eat. I can remember rows of filberts and walnut and Brazil nut pieces (I don't remember the pecans or almonds). I love sitting with a bowl of nuts in shells and sending pieces flying around the room. I especially love Brazil nuts as they are so miserable to get out.

    A fond memory you have given me now...

    Enjoy your time with family and friends!

    xo Terri

  23. What a lovely post, and I must say I have enjoyed reading all the comments just as much. My girls started enjoying cracking nuts a few years ago and now because of you and your point of view I will make sure to have them around the house this season. What I remember most about thanksgiving is the years we went to my mothers folks in Milton, MA. They were chain smokers and I couldn't stand it in their second story apartment, smelly and tense. I alwsys knew my mother didn't care for her parents and this holiday was an obligation. Nothing gets by kids! I would alwsys ask to take a nap in the afternoon, just to escape the smoke and the forced happiness. Only a few years ago did I fully understand that tension. Ignorance was bliss in retrospect.

    Anyway, Thanksgiving of my adulthood has been usually wonderful, and this one no different. Thanks for the story of your memories and for your friendship, something I count among my blessings.

  24. Growing up we always had a bowl of nuts/nutcracker on the table for autumn. I have not bought any in the past few years because of the dogs and my 2-yr old grandson, but as soon as it is no longer a safety issue, I will buy them again. If no one eats them but me that's ok. I love the way they look on a table.

  25. Enjoyed your story...wish I was in my jammies sitting by the fire when I read it :)
    Hey what is up with Brussels sprouts everywhere...I guess they are making a comeback like brass.....
    I got the switch a few times....those things can hurt.

  26. I'm thankful I found your blog! I love all your thanksgiving food photos and the bowl of nuts, the beautiful table setting...and your narrow vignette...that does not look at all like it's on a 6.5 inch ledge...I do love those zinc pot and all that gorgeous moss.