I can still remember from my high school days back in Suffern, NY how school would close for the 4 or 5 days of Thanksgiving with a short day on Tuesday or Wednesday and even shorter if the weather was bad to go home for the Thanksgiving break. I lived in walking distance of school, but the bus riders always had to leave early if snow was in the air (and my mother would of course pick me up in bad weather even though I lived 0.4 miles downhill from school).
We always had an assembly that afternoon where the chorus would sing songs before the whole student body was dismissed.
I was in the chorus mainly because the chorus group could go to eat lunch in the first lunch period while the second non-singing group got to eat 45 minutes later. Even back in those days my constitutional homeopathic was sulphur (who get hungry for lunch at 11 AM).
Our fall semester choral selections always included songs of autumn and of course Christmas carols and we always left school in good spirits (my high school years were 1958-1962) in what a lot of my peers call the golden years of America.
The previous weekend we would have gone to the local farmers’ market to buy apple cider (hard and soft) and apple or pumpkin pies plus whatever vegetables were still growing at that cold time of the year. We usually celebrated Thanksgiving with my father’s family (his sister had my two favorite boy cousins and his brother had 2 boys and the only girl in the family. While my father’s mother, Grandma Sarah, was still alive, we would travel to Ellenville in the Catskills and she truly lived on a farm with her second husband, Old Man Tannenbaum. He had a real farmhouse on a milk farm and an inn town house in the village with a garage out back that had a vintage 1930’s car in it that hadn’t been driven in 20 years. I’ve always thought that my youngest daughter Jaclyn looks like Grandma Sarah and in fact she is the one who cooks like her with recipes she learned from her grandma Doris (Audrey’s mother).
After Grandma died, the party would either be at our house in Suffern or at Uncle Marty’s house in Tarrytown.
Grandma always made her famous Pea soup and Flanken soup meat for dinner like she must have learned from her mother in the native Russia of her youth.
My mother always served food that my father would bring home from his favorite Italian restaurant in Hackensack, where his business was where he had lunch 3 out of 4 days a week and they did anything for him that he asked them to. The place was a high class restaurant with white table cloth and waiters in formal wear plus live music in the evenings. It was far from the New Jersey pizza parlor image and was truly very upscale.
My aunt and uncle (long passed away) lived in a Duplex house in Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown (home of the Headless Horseman and Rip Van Winkle) with her mother right next door so her dinners were always a project like our current family produces.
Our New Jersey Italian restaurant’s prepared Turkey dinner was the tastiest. It matched the farm fresh food we got the weekend before and was a GREAT Thanksgiving meal in Suffern at our house.
No one drank wine in our family in those days and the men would have Highballs and/or Scotch on the rocks if they drank anything. (They didn’t drink much as it wasn’t their thing to do.) The women didn’t drink anything. The kids had apple cider that was not alcoholic or juices.
But Grandma’s was the best meal of all considering that she truly lived in the country (Catskills is as country as you can get in New York). A great Jewish Thanksgiving like they must have eaten back in Mother Russia right out of Fiddler on the Roof where turkeys never were known. Woodstock was nearby and could just as easily been on their farm just as easily as the farm they destroyed.
We actually spent summers at a bungalow colony in Ellenville when I was 9 and 10 right down the road from the Ellenville Milk Farm. Old Man Tannenbaum could easily have been Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof.
I’m actually looking forward to this Thursday when we all get together at Jaclyn and Bryan’s.