Well, it is over now. But it was a massive success. There were 25 of us celebrating in my lovely house near Charlottesville, VA. I thought there were only 22 people to seat. However, when writing the place cards, I discovered that I had miscounted. There were 24 relatives who accepted. Ok. I put two extra places at each end of the larger dinner table. When the day arrived, the first guest at the door was Elias, my oldest grandchild. I was speechless. It was a total surprise because I believed he was NOT coming! I was also thrilled. He is very special to me; he was my first grandchild. I found a spot for one more chair!
While I was still standing there, unable to utter a word, Elias handed me his phone … and my grandson Finley spoke to me with excitement from Vermont where they live. He told me he and his wife Meghan are expecting a baby in May! Again, finding the words to express my love and the thrill of anticipating being a great-grandmother was almost impossible. I have been waiting to hear those words! Wow! What a wonderful way to start our Thanksgiving celebration at my house.
Preparations for Thanksgiving require many trips to the market over several days. I visited stores where I purchased turkey, ham, ingredients for the stuffing, and spinach for salad. Brussels sprouts, extra butter for Hollandaise sauce, cranberries, chestnuts, and avocados filled my carts. Also, extra ice, condiments, soft drinks, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer had to be hauled home. For outdoors, buying pansies and other hardy flowers required a search for the “right ones.” Ivy Nursery has beautiful things, but I have never returned there after the way they treated me (and everyone else) during the Covid craziness. What a shame, but it is less costly everywhere else. Eventually, I found everything I needed, including “paperwhites,” which I started in hopes they would bloom by Christmas.
The Blessing of the Hounds at Grace Church at Cismont is celebrated on Thanksgiving morning. Of course, I had to go to that to see the spectacle. Three of my children, Murdoch, Helen, Lilla, my daughter-in-law, Susie, and two grandchildren, Bear and Tilly, went hunting that day. My daughter, Helen, received her “colors” from the Master, my son, Murdoch. It was so special; there was no “getting out of it” just because I was busy. So I went.
I woke at 6 am and began preparing for the day’s events. I had made significant progress by the time I left the house to see the blessing of hounds. My heart was bursting with pride watching those dear ones dressed in formal hunting attire. Their father, Charley, and Julie, his wife, were there too. I knew he felt the same love and admiration for their efforts to turn out so well. We know what it takes to get all those family members out hunting at once. All those horses groomed, manes braided, and hooves blacked. All that shining tack took work. How lucky we are! They were all beautiful.
Our celebration at my house was one of the nicest ever. Chris, my son-in-law, brought sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, because Lilla said I JUST MUST serve that, too. Though it was a bit chilly, we had drinks and freshly shucked oysters on the terrace. Son-in-law, David, brought the oysters and he was the shucker. While he was busy doing that, I looked up and saw a horse in my fenced-in backyard. What!!! We have a family saying, “You can bring your dogs, or you can bring your children, but you cannot bring BOTH your dogs and your children.” I forgot to say, “You cannot bring your horse! ” But Lilla’s horse Jo-Jo is perfect. She did not mind the people standing on the terrace above where she was calmly grazing. It was quite an unusual sight in my everyday view. I loved it!
Our feast was delicious and so plentiful I had to give a portion away to the guests and the excellent help, Adela, Cynthia, and Emelio. The tables looked festive and welcoming, crowded together as we were. Place cards helped with the confusion of where to sit. My son, Charley junior, arrived in his kilt, a family tradition. His lovely wife, Andrea, brought me cranberry relish and some of her delicious pies for dessert. Isabelle, Moseley, and Tom ( CTM III) joined them. Charley Senior said the blessing, and we dug into the tasty turkey and trimmings. The wild rice casseroles, two versions, were popular, and they ate all of the mashed potatoes and wanted more. Helen sent over butternut squash roasted. We had a smoked turkey as well as the roasted traditional one. Pickled beets added color and zest.
My two engaged granddaughters, Daisy to Steve and Grace to Gill, joined us. Delilah and her husband Alex drove up from Richmond with their dog. Helen M. was not riding but came in looking sporty and chic. The conversation was merry, and the younger ones played word games. No one was looking at their phones, though some took lots of photos. Laughter and conversation continued through the meal and dessert. Finally, they began to straggle out, and when they left, I was so tired I was numb. Robert stayed over for a while and lit a bright fire in the library. I sat on the sofa covered with dachshunds, snuggling from the back of my neck to my lap. It was a marvelous end to a most satisfying day.
The Thanksgiving celebration is always my very favorite one. There are no gifts to worry about, not much decoration, just plentiful food and lots of love and camaraderie. I hope everyone enjoyed their family and friends for this special day. And let’s carry our gratitude and Thanksgiving with us all year round.
Copyright©. 2023 Bonnie B. Matheson