Try to remember…

Try to remember when life was so tenderThat no one wept except the willowTry to remember the kind of SeptemberWhen love was an ember about to billowTry to remember and if you rememberThen follow, follow

As we approach the celebration of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday on Monday, October 10th I remember the family gatherings we had at my parents’ home.  It was always an event.  I can smell the aroma of the turkey in the oven just thinking about it! As often as not the weather was miserable on the day of the familial congregation; it seemed appropriate for the typical windy, cool days in autumn. It strengthened the warmth of the interior.

My mother was utterly devoted to tradition; and her top priority was those closest and dearest to her. This meant her nuclear family and those who circulated within that orbit. It was never imagined that such feasts as Thanksgiving would be held anywhere other than at mother’s house.  She was exceptionally proud of her house which, after years of having lived as an itinerant following my father throughout the globe, she had custom-built and subsequently nurtured as her very private gem.

In addition to affording my mother the opportunity to display her numerous culinary talents, the Thanksgiving feast was adorned with now legendary place settings, stemware and linens. Naturally the array of food was the predominant attraction. Everything had been skilfully spiced or accessorized.  My father was routinely delegated to carve the turkey (usually under mother’s exceptionally watchful eye). There were always drinks available (and once again mother controlled the consumption). The hors d’oeuvres alone would have sufficed as a meal for most.

As silly as it now sounds another of our family traditions was the recitation by me of the Latin grace before tucking in at table. I hasten to add that there was invariably a minor comic element which insinuated the “performance”. Nonetheless my mother’s Catholic devotion (and perhaps a nip or two of vino rosso) legitimized the acknowledgement.

Benedic, Domine, nos et dona tua,
quae de largitate tua sumus sumpturi,
et concede, ut illis salubriter nutriti
tibi debitum obsequium praestare valeamus,
per Christum Dominum nostrum.

– Bless, O Lord, us and your gifts,
which from your bounty we are about to receive,
and grant that, healthily nourished by them,
we may render you due obedience,
through Christ our Lord.

For dessert there was the expected pumpkin pie.  Even mother’s whipped cream had a gourmet character to it!