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Another Thanksgiving at Mom and Dad's House

Updated on November 28, 2015

Beverly, Massachusetts. The Old Home Town in the early 1900s


Miss Fitzgerald and Mr. Armstrong

by Bill Russo

I went to my parents’ house today for dinner, as I have done every year for the past 72 Thanksgivings.

As usual Dad had mysteriously managed to transform his small dining room table into something resembling a flattop aircraft carrier from 1943.

Extra leaf? No, not just a leaf. Not a thousand leaves. There had to be a whole tree involved in that magical expansion. Nobody had ever lifted up the white table cloth and looked underneath, so the source of Dad’s expansionary magic was never revealed.

Dad’s resourcefulness was born of the necessity of having to provide a tremendously large space to hold all the food that Mama and my Grandmother prepared.

There always were enough delicious delicacies to feed 12 people or 25, depending on how many showed up; and at Mom’s house, anyone was welcome to the table – with or without advance notice.

The menu never varied and never got boring. Turkey and all the fixings in tribute to the Pilgrims who landed in Provincetown harbor in 1620 – in addition to ravioli, gnocci, lasagna, and little honey-coated dough balls called ‘Gi Gis’; those delightful items were in tribute to my ‘Paisan’ relatives who landed in Boston Harbor in 1920.

Those gathered for the dinner included all the children, grand children, and great grandchildren as well as grandparents, great grandparents, and assorted friends and neighbors.

As usual before the dinner, Dad stood up from his seat at the head of the table and looked around solemnly before breaking out into an expansive smile and said, “I’m responsible for all of this!”

Mom never said much, she was like a train with but one track, that leading to the kitchen where she went every few minutes to retrieve a new load of steaming vegetables, or the basket of hot chestnuts she had been roasting in a cast iron skillet on the kitchen stove.

Nonna would stand up and raise herself to her full four feet and ten inches of height and command everyone: “Eat, eat. Mange, mange, you too skinny.”

Everyone loved Nonna, especially the people who really were very, very far from being ‘too skinny’.

My great grandfather was seated as usual in the children’s section so he could be close to people his own age. My Mom realized that there is an amazing and mysterious bond between the very young and the very old.

Guests were made to feel as if they were long standing members of the family. Dad truly meant it when he said to them – ‘mi casa, su casa’, (my house-your house).

Before dinner, Dad would lead the guests to his ‘man-cave’ in his finished cellar - complete with bar, stools, and even a pair of old fashioned high backed wooden restaurant booths.

After a beverage or two, the convivial group would return upstairs just in time for dinner.

There was always an empty chair at the gatherings. A plate was set at the table in front of the empty seat. Framed photos of friends and relations missing or departed; were set on the plate, so that they could be remembered just as if they were present.

The Thanksgiving Dinner that I enjoyed today at my parents’ home, was only in my memory and my mind; but that did not prevent me from smelling once again the aroma of those days and from seeing those beautiful faces of long ago.

My ears don’t hear as they used to and my eyes don’t see as well, but as George, and brother Ira, Gershwin said in their 1937 song - I still have my memories, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No no they can't take that away from me

The way your smile just beams
The way you sing off key
The way you haunt my dreams
No no they can't take that away from me


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    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 2 years ago from Cape Cod

      A memory is like a garden plant that comes back year after year and keeps growing as long as we live. Thankfully, our holiday memories are good ones. Thanks pstraubie48 for reading and the wonderful comment.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 2 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thank you so much Bill. I am deeply appreciative that you took the time to read my remembrance and to make a comment.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 2 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks John. I don't live in the past but I get depressed if I don't make a visit now and then.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Awesome...what a lovely walk down memory brought to mind fond memories of Thanksgivings of yesterday that I experienced too...thank you for sharing should be a HOTD.

      Angels are on the way to

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, that was beautiful....really beautiful. What wonderful memories you have. I was smiling throughout this fine piece of writing.

      Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was a delightful hub l. memories are so precious especially it seems of family meals and gatherings for special occasions. I wrote a hub about my childhood memories at my grandmother's as well. some things always stay with you.