Woodside memories: Thanksgivings present and past


By Marie Krenz

This year we are all looking forward to Thanksgiving with special anticipation. It looks as though almost all the family will be together, including the distant Maryland branch.

This is important to me, because I am the only family survivor of my generation to enjoy the property Grandfather bought almost one hundred years ago.

My two sisters-in-law and I leave our week day homes to spend every weekend in Woodside. We enjoy being together and preparing the Sunday dinner for ourselves and for any of our children and grandchildren who come to enliven our day.

Sometimes it's difficult to know how many (or if any) of the younger generation will come, but somehow we always seem to have enough for everyone.

My childhood was filled with weekends and summers spent in our Woodside house. On those Sundays there were always nine of the family at the table, plus three regulars, and any drop-ins who ventured south from faraway San Francisco.

Because our Sundays are quieter now, Thanksgiving is a joyful reminder of the past as sons and daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends drive through the gate.

Everyone does what he likes best. Some go walking in the woods, some play ping-pong, some sit and chat, and one dear nephew wants to repair whatever needs help. Little people run around outside or ride their tricycles.

As for the dinner, each family contributes something. I'm happy to do the vegetables, including creamed onions, which some adore and others detest. Of course, there's turkey, salad, dessert, and other good things. So far it hasn't happened, but we always worry that we'll end up with no salad and too many desserts. Someone picks a few rusty hydrangeas for the table, and we are ready.

Everything is peaceful these days, but we had a few difficult times with guests in years past. Aunt Grace who finally grabbed Uncle Edward after a courtship of 20 years, was usually the source of contention. Grandmother, who was probably the one who delayed the nuptials, didn't particularly like Grace, and Grace returned the favor.

One family member, Lawrence, was a good person, but he had a knack for always saying the wrong thing, particularly to Grace. On one Thanksgiving, Grace brought a delicious cake from a special bakery, and she pointed out that it was pure butter and cream. Trying to be gracious, Lawrence said it looked like it was all blown up with a bicycle pump. Grace shrieked, grabbed Uncle Edward and headed for their car. After that, we learned never to seat Lawrence near Grace.

That poor lady was always good to us children, but somehow she couldn't get along with adults.

One friend and a regular at Thanksgiving always arrived with a long face and a sour disposition, which caused my brother to say, "Well there goes the happy hour."

Those days are long gone, and although I'll always miss my forebears, I find the Thanksgivings of today are far more restful.

Marie Wagner Krenz is a freelance writer from Orinda who spends weekends in Woodside at the old family home.

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