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The Daily Genealogist: Readers’ Thanksgiving Traditions

(A Note from the Editor) Permanent link
 
Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

In response to last week’s Thanksgiving-related stories and food survey, many readers wrote to share their own Thanksgiving traditions. Below is a selection:

Betsey Heath Howes of Plainfield, Massachusetts: This week’s discussion on Thanksgiving made me think of the differences in the Thanksgivings of my youth, held at my grandmother's farm in Huntington, Mass., and the family reunion Thanksgivings I now attend with my husband's family in Whately, Mass. My Grandmother Heath served a turkey every year that was provided by my cousin's husband, a WWII vet and expert marksman who won many turkeys at the turkey shoots that were ubiquitous in our part of Western Mass. in the 1950s and 60s. The turkey — with dressing, cranberry sauce, peas, squash, onions cooked in cream, potatoes and gravy, and various home canned pickles and homemade pies — made up the bulk of the meal. But my grandmother always made a huge chicken pie in her milk pan and everyone got a bit of that. In Whately, the basic foods are the same: turkey, squash, potatoes, onions, and dressing — but turnip and cranberry relish are on this menu. The Howes came from the Cape and there are always one or two cranberry pies — a thing I had never encountered before I married my husband — as well as squash, pumpkin, maple walnut, pecan, apple, blueberry, and real mincemeat pie made with venison. Pies are carefully cut into small slices so people can have a taste of many pies. Thanks for helping me go down memory lane.

David Ojerholm of Sydney, Australia: My wife, Janet, makes pumpkin cheesecakes for Thanksgiving. People hardly touch or have room for the pumpkin pies! We celebrate Thanksgiving here "down-under" on the Sunday before or after the actual day so other people can join us.

Roseanne Bloom of Kalispell, Montana: You didn't have a space for my family's traditional Thanksgiving food: sauerkraut! For me, it is not Thanksgiving without it, although now that I live in Montana, no one's ever heard of having it for Thanksgiving. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and it was always on the table for Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if it's a regional thing, or related to some German heritage we have.

Frederick M. Dittmar of Norman, Oklahoma: Greetings and Thanksgiving tidings from Oklahoma by a displaced Plymouthian! I grew up in Plymouth and in 1921 my mother, B. Edwina Canning-Dittmar, was in the first Pilgrim Progress. [The Pilgrim Progress began as part of the tercentenary commemoration of the Pilgrims’ arrival.] If you have one of the first postcards of the Pilgrim Progress taken with the group at the base of Burial Hill, she is the lady in the lightest costume. My mother went on to work with Rose Briggs and Joan Doll in making many of the first costumes for the Progress — for Mayflower passengers, speakers at the Rock, and characters at the first fort and the Pilgrim houses on the waterfront. In my youth, our house was always full of costume production and people trying on costumes for fittings. It’s a sad and happy time of year for me as I do miss Plymouth and all the historical activity.

 


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