Hard to believe that this week is Thanksgiving. Although it falls late on the calendar this year, it still manages to sneak up and remind us that we are due for gatherings of family and friends from near and far.
Thanksgiving has always had a special place in my heart. In times past, and for the last several decades really, our family has always enjoyed gathering either at Mama Anne’s home (John’s family home) or with Aunt Eleanor at the club. Both ladies were grand southern hostesses. Not only did they know how to plan a gathering but they did so with such finesse, right down to the last detail.
During the years spent at Mama Anne’s lovely home, our family was treated to a beautifully appointed dining room, complete with heirloom china and silverware. You always “dressed for dinner” at Mama Anne’s and it was never a chore to do so. In fact, it made you feel special and added excitement to the anticipation of the event that was to come. Although Mama Anne would spend several days planning and cooking with her long time cook Annie Laurie, she also felt it important to bring in some additional hands to assist with the final table service and presentation of the dishes. Thanksgiving in her home became quite a treasured event – no one ever wanted to miss it!
As the years passed and Mama Anne was unable to host our family, my sweet Aunt Eleanor took the reins. She too was a grand hostess, actually THE grand dame. Her Thanksgiving gatherings were held at the nearby club and although the dinner was typically the same every year, our table was always different! Aunt Eleanor loved details and knew the importance of how it made any event feel special. She would spend hours planning with the staff and florist – an important aspect as our table consisted of almost 35 people! From the centerpieces to the linens to the china to the special welcome tokens, she knew how to make an annual tradition really sparkle.
I am so grateful and thankful to these two amazing ladies. Their knowledge and expertise of entertaining and making everyone and every moment feel special was a true act of genuine hospitality. They taught me so much and that the smallest detail can really have the biggest impact. Above all, they also gave our family such a treasured gift – a lovely holiday dinner that was always an event, always a tradition filled with great anticipation!
This year, we will be spending Thanksgiving in a much different setting and with a smaller family group. Our table will be set differently, but we will still tell the same stories and fondly recall the sweet memories of times past and feel as if we are living them all over again. Thanksgiving is such a warm holiday and really, no matter how or where you spend it, the tradition of gathering is what is most important.