Over the past few weeks, we’ve explored different ideas for menus and table settings Thanksgiving. But rest assuredly, traditional is still the most sought after. My mother, as well as her mother, didn’t cook on a normal basis, but on Thanksgiving, both women did. They were simple meals that were really rather basic. My grandmother always had the best mashed potatoes (Her secret? Whipped Heavy Cream!), and my mother always made, from scratch, cloverleaf rolls. I have reproduced both items with success, but they just are not the same.
At my Grandmother Beal’s, the table was quite elaborate. The heavy sterling was lustrous, the crystal sparkled in the candlelight, and everyone dressed up. We would gather in the living room beside the fireplace, while one of my aunts played Chopin on the grand piano. Other relatives arrived, beverages were served, and the big wooden nut bowl was set out with its crackers and picks. (My grandparents didn’t consume alcohol so it was strictly iced tea, lemonade, and for one quirky aunt, a Tab.)
My cousins and I were allowed to drink soda pop too and we would to go watch television in the “TV Room”. (Yes, back then we had an entire room just for watching television!) The only other light source in the room was a light-up globe on top of the TV, which wasn’t very bright at all, as all of the oceans and seas were in black.
When the the time was ready, we sat and waited for the big feast. First arrived the Tom Turkey, which we always called it, which was placed at the head of the table near my grandfather. He always stood, announcing “What a beautiful bird!”, while while removing his jacket and rolling up his sleeves as if it were hard labor to carve it. As he did so, all of the sides came to the table, mostly in covered dishes to keep everything warm. We said “grace” and then instead of passing the food, we passed our plates and each of us filled each others plates - trying to remember whose was whose - and which was yours so you could get more gravy... on top of everything!
Things, as always, have changed. My generation of cousins is spread all across the country. I don’t think we’ve all been in the same room together in well over two decades. Try as we might, we most likely shan’t ever be again.
I’ve started my own traditions. Many reflected in our final Thanksgiving menu and most traditional of tables-capes.
The linens reflect the changes of foliage, with hues of golds, reds, umber and green. In the center of the table, a collection of naturally shed horn objects are flanked by matching horn candelabra.
The patterns of the Blue Room plates are all different but are cohesive in color, mismatched too is the silverware, as it was assembled over time. It all feels so comfortable and familiar.
The Feast of Thanksgiving Menu incorporates many of my family’s favorites, we’ve been making my grandmother’s mashed potatoes the same way for eons. But in recent years - maybe the last decade - we’ve added roasted vegetables. Way back in the day, Creamed Pearl Onions graced the table, and I miss them, but the menu is already caloric enough without them!
Here at Brian Beal Moore Catering, we wish you and yours the very best Thanksgiving no matter how you choose to celebrate it. It is a day to look forward to, and a day of memories to look back at.