Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Comes First/Memories (Part 2)

This picture captures the weather and
mood I associate with Thanksgiving
For me what makes Thanksgiving so special are the memories of so many friends and relatives. I especially remember my grandmothers and my great aunt. My great aunt was Hera Sheghemi Gallagher! Her father was a lawyer. A client and close personal friend of his was Japanese. The story went that she was named for this friend. Originally the Hera was spelled Herra, but Auntie decided one 'r' was quite enough! No one in the family ever referred to her by her given name(s) because at an early age her sister, my grandmother, called her "Hade" and so to all of us she was known as Auntie Hade.

With her nephew
 on his Wedding Day
Auntie Hade was fabulous: always a lady, always  properly dressed she liked nothing better than to take us for long walks through the woods, pointing out wild flowers and especially birds. What was so charming about this was that she would be attired in an afternoon dress and what I considered to be little old lady black shoes with laces and a slight high heel. When the weather was colder she donned her best overcoat and her hat and gloves, the very model of a proper New England spinster lady. And never, ever was a hair out of place or a hint of perspiration on her brow! She also taught us how to play cards. Young and old adored her. Thanksgiving was never complete when she was not there and  since she died in 1971, I have had a sense of her spirit being present with us every Thanksgiving Day.

Katherine Ives Gallagher, nee Thankful!
Her sister, Katherine Ives Gallagher, was my grandmother and I am named Katherine after her. My grandmother was born on Thanksgiving Day, November 24th, 1892. She was 14 months younger than her sister and it would follow that my sister Mary and I would also be born 14 months apart. In all her life she never had need of her birth certificate until she retired at the age of 65. She did not have a copy of the document and had to go to the appropriate department in New Haven, Connecticut. Well, they could not find her in their records. They did, however, find a birth certificate for a daughter born on that day to her parents, Laura and John Gallagher. Everything matched but the name of the baby, which had been entered as 'Thankful' Ives Gallagher!! Now there is a story that remains hidden in the mists of time! But it seems to me that if you can name one child Herra Sheghemi, then "Thankful" sounds like it could be a possibility!

Grammy Eva and Grandpa John

Grammy Eva was my mother's mother and she and her second husband would arrive early Thanksgiving Day armed with boxes and boxes of goodies from her local New Jersey bakeries and delicatessens. Crumb Buns, coffee cake, Danish, doughnuts to die for and my favorite, cruellers!  Then she would set to work helping my mother and we all scampered off, faces powdered with sugar, to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, hoping against hope we would not be asked to help set the table or some such! One year Gram made the yummiest stuffing ever when she mixed in a small amount of mashed potato with the bread crumbs, sage and onion. With the turkey we'd also have brussel sprouts (yuck), creamed onions, sweet potatoes with those sickly toasted marshmallows, green peas, cranberry sauce, cranberry relish and four pies: apple, apple crumb, mince with a lattice top, and pumpkin with whipped cream.

In 1979 I took The Man who was to become my husband home for his first Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving dinner that year was at my brother and sister-in-law's house. Their home was also the house where I lived from the age of 10. So many a Thanksgiving memory there!

Here is The Man and my Mom -- one of the greatest mutual admiration societies to have ever lived! Honestly, the first time my mother met him she shocked me by flirting with him -- and he flirted right back! And her mother, my grandmother quickly decided to do her part to get him in the family by insisting we drop by her house in New Jersey for dinner. "I'll make a pot roast -- her speciality -- and for dessert I think I'll make a Blighty Tart". "Ho,Ho,

Ho," said my father, "that's what she fed me the first time! She's got you in her sights for her grand-daughter!" Blighty Tart, properly called Blitzen Torte is a double layer cake. Each layer made of yellow cake and topped with toasted meringue sprinkled with either almonds or toasted coconut and between the layers is whipped cream. It was !probably my father's all time favorite dessert

And now here on the left are my brother and Dad doing their jobs! Bro is doing the potatoes and against all the odds Dad is using an electric knife! Note the red flannel shirt -- to me this is the traditional men's wear on Thanksgiving Day in most families.  Dad is a bit dressier because he would have been to church earlier and not got around to changing.
Here dinner is finished and the men are back at work -- even The Man seems to be taking orders from me! That didn't last long, but it was nice while it lasted!!! Actually I have no idea what I was going on about, just that it definitely looks as though I am going on ... This would turn out to be the last Thanksgiving Day in America for me for many years -- and it was a very happy one indeed ...

Three Cousins, left to right, my nephew, niece, and son.
I can't remember when I was next back in the States for this holiday, but the following pictures may be when. The year was probably 1994 and the weekend was very special. In attendance were my eldest son, my nephew and my niece. All three would have been in college that year. My niece is from Minnesota and was attending college in Maine so it was an extra special treat to have her for Thanksgiving.

One particular event makes this particular year especially memorable: My parents' lived north western Connecticut, which is the most wooded area of the state. As wild turkeys had become a protected species they were now in abundance and it was not unusual to spot them in the countryside. However, I was yet to see any ...

Early in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving Day, my mother knocked softly on my bedroom door and said, "Kathie, if you want to see the turkeys come downstairs now! Immediately I grabbed my camera and flew downstairs -- followed by the entire household! Still in our pyjamas all seven of us crept up to the kitchen window and had a look: There they were, seven wild hungry turkeys, bold as they could be!


  1. Again, thank you so much for joining in and posting. Wonderful memories, and very nicely timed for the appearance on this day, also.

  2. That was a truly beautiful post, Broad (or should I call you Kathie?) full of affectionate reminiscence of the event and such love for the people. What a lovely tradition to have.

  3. Suldog: It was good to travel through my memories and re-visit so many of the important people in my life.

  4. Perpetua: many thanks for your kind words. 'Kathie' or 'Broad' or 'Katherine' -- I answer to all -- and one other as well!!

  5. G'day Broad. A really great post. The photos are just lovely. You have so many truly great memories.


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