One of the things I remember best about my childhood was gathering at my grandmother’s house in Bethany, Oklahoma for her annual Thanksgiving feast.
In this cozy 1954 ranch house, the lot of the Longstreath clan would gather. We were a small crowd: Granny and Pa, my uncle Mike with his son Brian and wife Ruth, and me and my mom and dad.
That’s it: just 8 of us.
But, if you talked to Wilma Sue (that’s my granny), you might have thought 37 people were coming.
Because Thanksgiving was a big deal to her.
Although the holiday fare was pretty standard each year, the length at which my grandmother was able to replicate each Thanksgiving meal – year after year – with such precision, is nothing short of miraculous.
Turkey, mashed potatoes with the perfect turkey gravy, yams smothered in butter and toasted marshmallows … you get the idea.
But another reliable fixture of my Granny’s Thanksgiving table were the serving dishes. Every year, the turkey was served on a giant platter, festooned with an image of a majestic, wild turkey. And, every year, the mashed potatoes were passed around the table in a giant red enamel bowl; a special kind of red that could only have come from a year prior to 1974.
(I’m not sure the yams actually made it out of the baking pan prior to consumption.)
So when it was finally time for me to play Thanksgiving hostess as an adult, I relished in the idea that I would create a feast which would make Granny proud.
As we finished the mashed potatoes and set the turkey out to rest before carving, I suddenly realized that there was no designated platter, no special bowls.
“This can’t be!” I thought.
Thankfully, I was only cooking for two that year and saved myself the humiliation of serving the Thanksgiving mashed potatoes to Wilma Sue herself from a blue plastic mixing bowl.
I decided, then and there, I would set a proper Thanksgiving table from then on.
But outfitting your holiday table 1.) doesn’t have to cost a fortune, 2.) doesn’t have to come from a big box store and 3.) doesn’t have to be boring. This past week, at the Goodwill of Orange County location in Santa Ana, I found enough tableware for 3 Thanksgiving feasts!
Check it out:
The first look is the easiest to replicate – all white dishes with crystal accent pieces – and goes best with a harvesty-colored tablecloth.
I like to use vintage cut glass ashtrays, fill them with either glass beads, pebbles or – in this case, cranberries – for an interesting decorative touch.
But your Thanksgiving table doesn’t have to be achromatic. Mix different blue stoneware for an eclectic, but coordinated look.
Ah, this is more like it. Although my Granny’s colors were more of the rust, harvest gold and avocado variety, I think she would approve of this festive and jaunty color scheme.