Thanksgiving With Grandma

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November 21, 2012 by liebestropfchen

Thanksgiving is such a precious tradition in our nation.  Each year the corporate desire for increased revenues seems to creep closer to the time reserved for family dinners and turkey-induced naptimes, but I am hopeful the Black Friday sales will not trample the true meaning of being thankful for what we have.

The greatest thing I am grateful for is the memory of my grandma Hildreth Schwan. This is my first Thanksgiving without her, but for me the entire essence of this holiday is rooted in the sights, sounds, smells, and love we had every Thanksgiving Day at Grandma’s. 


I feel so blessed to have known her, and even more to have been related to her.  Had I not grown up with this woman and only known her as an aquaintance, I still would have been drawn to her warmth, intelligence, and tirelessly nurturing demeanor.  Grandma was so genuine, unique, gentle, and precious (not to mention funny as hell!).  I can’t imagine ever fully recovering from having to say goodbye to her this year, because the world was always so much brighter with her smile. 

I am so thankful for what she taught me throughout my life with her.  I still remember the day she taught me how to spell my name.  And the 267th time she sewed the lining on my torn blankie. I kept the numerous clippings from her newspaper she mailed to my dorm room for me to read.  Though the drive was long, and she had to sit in 90 degree weather, I’ll never forget my college graduation when Grandma brought along a picnic basket with angelfood cake inside. It was enough for me to just have her there that day, but Grandma never showed up to any occasion without bringing food she had spent hours making from scratch.


She taught me about tradition, sentimentality, selfless sacrifice, the importance of education, and frugality. Though it may be tedious, I prefer to sew by hand than use a sewing machine, because that’s how Grandma did it.  I can’t throw an egg shell in the trash can without thinking of how Grandma used to save them for her compost pile. When she could no longer bake, I asked my family if I could be the one to start bringing elderberry pie to all family functions like Grandma did…and that is not a tradition I take lightly.  It’s my way of feeling close to her in her absence.

Even when Grandma could barely write, she still sent me a Thank You card for the necklace I made her for Christmas…the same necklace I placed on her neck the day we said goodbye.  Grandma never stopped showing how much love her heart had for us, so it’s hard to imagine not being able to tell her anymore how much she means to me.  I think of her every day, and so much of who I am is because of her. 

This year will be difficult, but I know the reason I love Thanksgiving so much is because of her.  She worked tirelessly to ensure the turkey was perfect, the stuffing was plentiful, and her family was happy when we went back to our own homes in the evening.  Anytime I host Thanksgiving, I find myself wondering how she was able to do it all so perfectly without any sense of stress. Her tiny kitchen with its limited counter space and antiquated appliances were no match for her gigantic heart, and she made magic happen.

I hope God has a big enough table to hold all the food Grandma’s cooking, because she’s got enough love to take care of everyone in Heaven.

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