Its TUESDAY TALES time! This week it’s a Best of Tuesday Tales. I haven’t participated in the group long enough to have a post that I feel is one of my ‘best’, and since I’m still working on FAT AND SASSY as my Nano project, I’ve added a Thanksgiving post from here.
In Fat and Sassy, we’ve been following Bea and Casey through the early 40’s as they’re moving around in search of work and raising a family. For this post, we’re jumping ahead about forty years. Bea is now a widow, has moved back to California (again), and is staying with her oldest daughter Mae, who is now a grandmother herself.
Thanks for stopping by. Return to TUESDAY TALES here for more great stories … the best of Tuesday Tales.
Being such an early riser, now that she hardly slept at night, Bea was surprised to hear noises coming from the kitchen already. She squinted to look at the clock on the nightstand. Three am! What in the world was Mae doing up that early?
She sat up and slid her feet into the slippers sitting by the side of the bed. Wandering into the kitchen she saw Mae standing in front of open cupboards with dishes scattered across every open surface. “A tornado go through here? And what are you doing up so early, Sister?”
“I’m just trying to get things in order for the day. I got the turkey in an hour ago, so I’m getting the cookware and plates out that we’ll need, before I start on some of the other dishes.”
Bea headed for the coffee pot tucked in the corner, now obscured by the stacks of plates and empty casserole dishes. “Anything I can do to help?”
“Not right now, Mother. Just relax. Later you can peel some potatoes and chop up some celery.”
“I still don’t know why you’re going to so much trouble for Thanksgiving. You’re gonna’ have enough here to feed an army,” Bea said.
“Once everyone gets here, we will have an army,” Mae replied.
Bea settled into an empty chair. She scooted a pile of dessert plates back to make room for her coffee cup.
Mae began pulling cans out of another cupboard and started putting them on the counter. “Olives, cranberry sauce, yams, green beans ….” she said aloud as she stacked them together. “What am I forgetting?”
“Carrots. Are the canned carrots there? I was going to make my Copper Pennies.”
She stuck her head deeper in the cupboard and pulled out two more cans. “Carrots. Here we go.”
A sleepy eyed young boy with tousled hair walked into the kitchen. “When will everyone get here, Mama?” Chuck asked.
“Not until later. Go sit and visit with Grandma Jones while she drinks her coffee.”
The rest of the morning consumed Mae’s time, busy in preparation for the big feast. Big Chuck passed through the kitchen now and then. “Lookin’ good, Mama,” he said to his wife, patting her on the bottom as he’d snitch a bite of whatever dish she was working on at the time.
The roasted turkey was filling the house with its hot, tantalizing aroma as everyone started arriving. Alvin and Phyllis, and their three children pulled in the driveway with a pop-up travel trailer right behind. Sue and her two munchkins, Dwight and Dale, were right behind. Patsy and Greg arrived before the turkey was done. Barely. Patsy lifted Christopher out of his car seat, they grabbed the diaper bag and the paraphernalia that accompanies babies.
“This is a great Thanksgiving.” Bea sat in the living room, surrounded by family. “Two of my children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. This is wonderful. I just wish that the rest of the family could be here too. I miss the days when the whole family was together.”
Mae passed through the room, headed to go check the turkey one last time. She gave a slight frown hearing those words, but she didn’t say anything. Years ago the whole family was together, but she didn’t recall any special Thanksgiving traditions. Yes, we had food, but we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving until I was married and started doing it myself. She hurried to the kitchen and kept quiet. She was too busy to fret over memories from so long ago.
“Everyone come grab a plate,” Mae called out. Everyone filed into the kitchen and bunched all together. Chuck brought up the rear and filled the doorway. “Mama,” he said in his Texan drawl, “you wanna say the blessing?”
Bea leaned up against the counter, the self-proclaimed matriarch, surrounded by her family. “Lord, we thank you for your bounty. We thank you for your grace. Thank you for bringing us together for the day. Be with those that we’re missing. Amen.”
“Amen,” the family echoed. Mothers filled plates for the children, giving them samples of everything, knowing that they wouldn’t eat half of what was there. Everyone passed by the table, filling their plate with the typical Thanksgiving fare. Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams topped with melted marshmallows, green beans in their special sauce and topped with fried onions crisps, cranberry sauce, green and black olives, fresh vegetables and hot rolls with butter and jam.
As plates were emptied and people sat around in a stupor, Mae announced, “For dessert we have pumpkin pie, pecan pie, mincemeat pie, coconut cake, pineapple upside down cake and chocolate upside down cake.”
Every one groaned and rubbed their full stomachs.
“You have so many desserts,” Phyllis said.
“You know me and a party,” Mae replied. “And why just have one dessert when you can have six?” She scanned the kitchen with all the food to put away later and the dishes to clean up. She was tired. She’d deal with the mess later, along with the childhood memories that were stirred up.
Bea had her own memories surfacing. They’d drift through as she lay in bed later, facing a night that brought its own demons with it. All these years later, to now be without a home, without a husband, without two of the children you gave birth to. Too old to work now. Unable to take care of herself. Advancing age, diminishing health and poverty is a trio to be reckoned with. It is not a kind combination. The day was a day of thanksgiving. The night was a night of fears and achy joints. But it wasn’t night yet. It was daytime, so for today she’d count the blessings in her life.