Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love its season, its ecumenical nature, the bountiful feast and warm feeling of families gathering in good fellowship. There’s none of the frenzy of shopping and preparation that’s associated with Chanukah and Christmas. Just the pleasure of being together, enjoying good food and high spirits.
For the past several years I’ve been relieved of all cooking duties. My daughters have taken over. I don’t even have to make the gravy, and since all three are accomplished cooks, the immense variety of food is delicious. It’s so much fun for me to sit at the kitchen counter sipping Prosecco, while they arrange the flowers and put the finishing touches on the candied sweet potatoes, the mashed potatoes, the haricot verts, the creamed onions, and the huge casserole of outside stuffing. We laugh when they garnish the turkey with the cranberry necklace that the children have left half-finished, recalling the endless necklaces that they used to string for the turkeys of their childhood.
In our family, we have a Thanksgiving table cloth that is a work of art. I had it made 48 years ago, when my husband, Shelly, and I lived in India. It’s large enough to fit a fully extended table that would seat eighteen. The natural, linen-like fabric was hand-loomed in the Vale of Kashmir. It has a drawn-work pattern and is embroidered in fall colors with silk thread that was dyed with vegetable pigments. It’s a nightmare to launder! With our growing family, we could use more napkins, but because of the Afghan war and the unstable politics in the region, that’s probably an impossibility now.
For years, whenever I made Thanksgiving dinner in our home in the New York suburbs, the cloth graced the dining room table, its leaf pattern a perfect background for my mother’s ivy patterned china, which I had inherited. In 2004, after thirty-nine years in our house, Shelly and I moved to a Manhattan apartment. The cloth and my mother’s china went to Jennifer—along with the privilege of hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Now we all gather—my three daughters and their husbands, seven grandchildren, three dogs, and I. Sadly, Shelly passed away two years ago; but his spirit is ever present.
There’s a feeling of great warmth and satisfaction when I see the Thanksgiving cloth. It brings back memories of happy years and many Thanksgiving feasts past.