Another Fralix Thanksgiving is in the history books. The last family members left Saturday. The turkey plates and other Thanksgiving items are packed away, and Mike and I are left with wonderful memories. Our gathering was smaller this year; 45 instead of last year’s 65. You will probably agree that 45 people is still a major crowd!
We began our Thanksgiving celebration on Tuesday evening at Sawmill Tap Room, our opening tradition. On Wednesday morning, a breakfast of egg casseroles, sausage grits (brother-in-law Bob), fruit, biscuits, and sweetbreads started our feasting. A delicious pasta dinner led by Mike’s sister Dianne and hosted by the Martin and Becker families was our evening fare, with a menu of pasta with meatballs, sausage, spaghetti squash, salad, and bread.
Turkey Day started with nieces Lisa and Alison’s planned exercise and games. Turkey Day breakfast this year was plentiful with casseroles, bacon, breads (including niece Tracy’s scrumptious and healthy muffins), and fruit, and had some asking, “What happened to our simple breakfast of bagels and fruit on turkey Day?!” Our Thanksgiving Dinner included turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese (Sam and Lisa) ,butternut squash lasagna (Rob and Cyndi), strawberry pretzel salad (Halle and Angie), cranberry fluff, parmesan green beans, Brussel sprouts (Huub Fijen and family), cranberry sauce, roasted carrots (Kristi), and of course, rolls. (Everyone remembers the year our meal did not include rolls, and we will never repeat that mistake!)
Friday was a sumptuous breakfast of pancakes, French toast, bacon and sausage, casseroles, and sweetbreads, led by Bryan Monahan and hosted by his brother Dan and their families, including Kristi’s mom Vicki. Friday afternoon Uncle Barry’s oyster roast rounded out our feasting.
Appetizers each day were a meal in and of themselves (Alison, Abbe, and others), and desserts were plentiful throughout. (Paula, Chatham, Tara, Kathy and Chuck Monahan, and others). Our grandchildren Mary Grace and Elsie each cooked a special dessert; Mary Grace a cream cheese pound cake and Elsie a lemon meringue pie. It is melancholy to see our children and grandchildren old enough and caring enough to prepare food for our family feast.
Everyone contributed to make our time together filled with food, fellowship, and love, including all of the adult siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins. It is always risky to name some and not all. (While some contributed in more ways than listed, names were not mentioned each time). We should not forget those who kept the wine and beer plentiful, especially Henry. Son-in-law Stephen hosted the games table, keeping many engaged for hours.
While the work of those who prepare wonderful meals and food items gets star billing (and should) there are others whose work is more in the background but every bit as important. The silent contributors included our daughter Tara, who purchased a freezer for us (our Christmas present!) to handle the ice, ice cream, and other frozen items. (It was amazing that our Sub-Zero freezer drawers chose this time to go out and could not be repaired before the holiday. Equally amazing was that our Sub-Zero refrigerator did the same thing last Thanksgiving!) Tara also took care of finding and buying wood for the wood-burning fire pit and smoker. Brother Joe played a major role in preparing and cooking the turkey and ham for Mike since Mike had to play a supportive role this year due to his recent foot surgery. And son-in-law Johnathan took the torch from Uncle Barry and smoked the turkey.
Other silent contributors included all of those who helped with set up and clearing, and washed dishes throughout (Mary, Sam, Patrick, Bridget, Michael, Kenny, Autumn, Braden, Chase, Griffin, Ethan, and Virginia. Others helped with these chores as well, although most names have been mentioned only once). While some much prefer paper and plastic, they graciously accept my “rule” of china, crystal, and sterling! (Even brother-in-law Bob who found some paper and plastic and served some of the oyster stew in them)! Even more silent contributors were those who helped me get things ready for the event before anyone arrived, including Paula who polished silver, (which Beverly helped organize)! Paula also cleaned chandeliers and daughter Chatham ironed endless cloth napkins.
If anyone’s efforts have not been mentioned, please forgive the oversight. Whether our number of those who gather is 45 or 65, it takes more than a village to house and feed our clan.
There is one other mention that should be made. All of those family members who travel long distances and arrange their schedules to be together make this holiday tradition so meaningful for all of us. We think this was the thirty-third year that we have celebrated Thanksgiving together, with Mike and me being privileged to host thirty-one of those years.
This was our first Thanksgiving celebration without Dad, our family patriarch who passed away in September. Dad would have been 96 years young next week. We honored him in our Thanksgiving meal prayer and will continue to honor him and Mom (who passed away in 2000) as this family they birthed continues to come together.