In his first novel, Look Homeward Angel
, 29-year-old Thomas Wolfe remembered a turn-of-the-century Thanksgiving from his boyhood. In his nostalgic fictionalized memoir, Wolfe calls himself young Eugene -- the toddler son of a couple named Eliza and a wildly prodigal stone-cutter named Gant.
Seated before a roast or a fowl, Gant began a heavy clangor on his steel and carving knife, distributing thereafter Gargantuan portions to each plate. Eugene feasted from a high chair by his father's side, filled his distending belly until it was drum-tight, and was permitted to stop eating by his watchful sire only when his stomach was impregnable to the heavy prod of Gant's big finger.
"There's a soft place there," he would roar, and he would cover the scoured plate of his infant son with another heavy slab of beef. That their machinery withstood this hammer-handed treatment was a tribute to their vitality and Eliza's cookery.
I really loved how he lovingly described the family's extravagant prepaprations for the holiday...
For the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts four heavy turkeys were bought and fattened for weeks: Eugene fed them with cans of shelled corn several times a day, but he could not bear to be present at their executions, because by that time their cheerful excited
gobbles made echoes in his heart.
Eliza baked for weeks in advance: the whole energy of the family focussed upon the great ritual of the feast. A day or two before, the auxiliary dainties
arrived in piled grocer's boxes--the magic of strange foods and fruits was added to familiar fare: there were glossed sticky dates, cold rich figs, cramped belly to belly in small boxes, dusty
raisins, mixed nuts--the almond, pecan..., the walnut, sacks of assorted candies, piles of yellow Florida oranges, tangerines, sharp, acrid, nostalgic odors.
Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!