Thanksgiving was the favorite of all holidays in Sarah Eva Howe's family. She mentions Thanksgiving frequently in her scrapbooks. While I have not found photos or illustrations of Thanksgiving as it was in Sarah's childhood years (1880s - 1890s), I did find a later magazine clipping she saved. On the same page, she wrote these reflections:
"As afore-mentioned, meals were bountiful. We had a "hanging lamp" over our table and one (with prisms) in our parlor at the house next to the church. A characteristic touch of this picture is the Grandma. There was one in almost every home. It was expected and gave the home dignity. Or else there were one or more maiden aunts or dependent cousins. Very few men there were who did not generally very cheerfully and graciously assume the support of either mother or mother-in-law (after fifty) or a brother's orphan children or an unmarried sister, and these certainly paid their way, too, in work."
The image depicts a family in the 1930s or 1940s, but it must have reminded Sarah of the atmosphere in her childhood home and in the homes of friends and neighbors.
The real Thanksgiving-related treasure from her scrapbooks is this poem she wrote in 1895, when she was 12 years old. Images of the original writing, faded but still legible, follow the transcription.
Dedicated to my schoolmates of 1895-96
A turkey strutting in the yard,
Nuts up in the attic,
Apples in the cellar, too,
It makes me quite ecstatic!
Cranberries in market seen,
Pumpkins grown so big!
Chickens fattening in the coop,
In the sty, a pig.
These are real November days,
Wintry winds are blowing.
Skies are covered o’er with clouds,
Surely ’twill be snowing!
What do all the things so nice
And the skies of gray
Make us think of?
Do you know?
Why, Thanksgiving Day!
Oh the table! What a sight!
In the dainty dishes
Resting on the snowy cloth
Is what each one wishes.
On the platter nests the turkey,
Such a jolly fellow!
‘Mid pork and cheese and chicken fine,
And pies of golden yellow.
See! The snow is on the ground.
Fires are burning brightly,
And around the table fair
Hearts beat very lightly
Now in the parlor see us crowd,
Merry games a-playing,
Till we all are quite tired out,
Then there comes the sleighing!
Flying o’er the snowy ground
With all the sleigh bells ringing
While the air is blowing keen
And we all are singing.
Now, we, about the fire at night
Tell many a story gay,
Till – well, we just must say good-night,
Thus ends our happy day.
You all may talk of glad New Year,
Or any day a-living;
But of all the gladsome crowd
Give to me Thanksgiving!
On this Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful to you and others who read my blog and share your thoughts about Sarah Eva Howe's scrapbooks and the history they hold. I join Sarah in wishing you and yours a meaningful Thanksgiving Day.