My Grandfather had died two years before I was born. Nana had remarried and moved to the next town down the road when I was three.
Her parents (my great-grandparents) would be there. And her three sons, (and the eldest's wife), my brother and myself. And Nana's second husband's son, wife and at first two, then three kids. Then my youngest uncle would add a wife and a couple of children of his own. It was quite a crowd. All of us kids would have our own table. At first we were put at a card table in a corner of the dinning room, but in following years we were put at the table in the kitchen. It was special, and I dare say that we all felt very grown up to be off on our own. I'll bet our discussions were a lot more fun than at the big folks table. I do remember that once or twice an adult came in to quiet us down.
In those days, it would have been considered horribly rude to have the television on during dinner, or to eat in the living room with it on. There were no big football games to be watched - they hadn't started televising them yet (if they were even held), and no one in my family would have been interested. We did have Thanksgiving football, though. While the morning was given over to watching the Gimbels parade on the tv, early afternoon, for anyone interested (none of us were until our teenage years), was the high school's final football game of the year with our traditional and properly hated main rival.
For the feast itself, we'd not only put the extensions into the dining room table (and lay down the extra table mats), but we'd get out the special china, the special silver service (which came out of a dark wood box luxuriously lined with green felt), the crystal water glasses (we did not have wine, although I do not know if that was common or just my family - there were dark rumors of a relative from the 1800's who had been "lost to drink"... ). We dressed in company best clothes, too, even though we saw each other constantly - it was a nod to the day. My great grandfather always wore his suit.
That was all a long time ago now. These days, I live an 8 hour drive away from the town where I grew up, and all of my direct family members are gone; only an aunt, stepmother, and stepbrother and his family remain. I would love to see them all, but it's too long and expensive a drive (these days I have no car), and it is too expensive to go by train. I get together every year with Laura of the Austanspace blog for dinner - it's our own little tradition in a world where even traditions are now merchandised and made meaningless. But we carry on. We don't dress up, and there is no special china, or freshly polished silverware in a dark brown felt lined box, it's been years since Laura had a dining room (instead, we lounge around her living room - it's the modern version of the kids table). But there is still a feast to celebrate another year of our survival in an increasingly difficult world, memories to share of times and people gone by, lots of gossip, and an unspoken celebration of our family of friends who care about each other. And for that, I am truly thankful. May we all be so blest.
Best Wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!