Today, Maine Crime Writers are sharing some of our holiday traditions and if you have the time and inclination, we’d love to have you, our readers, share some of yours as well.
Kate Flora: Thanksgiving on the farm was often the one time of year when relatives gathered–all the aunts and uncles who back then seemed very old. In typical Maine fashion, the women gathered to cook while the men donned their red and black checked woolens, grabbed their guns, and headed out to the woods to hunt. No TV and footballs games for us. When the men returned, there would be dinner, and then the men sat and talked while the women cleaned up. Until the year that my feminist mother shocked and outraged my father and the assembled elders by instituting a new way to clean up: everyone would draw numbers, and then, in pairs, everyone would take turns with the dishes. It was quite a sight to see the aproned uncles, sleeves rolled up, tackling a sink full of soapy water, possibly for the first times in their lives.
John Clark: Way back when, card playing was a big part of the Clark Thanksgiving along with my hunting in the morning. Oh Hell was the came of choice, but after everyone had kids, we got away from playing and did things like explore the fields when the weather permitted. Since Mom died, the traditions have changed with Sennebec Hill Farm no longer ours. We alternated between Concord, Ma and Hartland for quite some time, but age, the energy expended on caring for others (both very old and very young), made travel daunting. For the past couple years, we’ve alternated between our older daughter’s place in Belgrade and our place in Waterville. Fewer dishes are on the menu, replaced by things like reading to Reid and Piper as well as Piper’s favorite activity here, having me twirl her in my computer chair or carry her around upside down like a sack of beans. I’m in the process of teaching her to play rummy, so card playing may soon return to our Thanksgiving traditions.
Sandra Neily here: My childhood Thanksgiving meant close times with cousins at the young person table where we all gathered in Portland at grandmother “Munnie’s” house. (I am on the right, mid-way, long hair and bangs.) In our family, you didn’t make it to the adult table until college-age … or later. My grandfather was president of a national rose association. Sent outdoors to wait, we played endless tag up and down his garden rows. No shortcuts through beds though. Serious thorns and lots more fun than the big person table I think.
The big Thanksgiving event played out just before that gathering: deer season. The family’s men gathered up near Cherryfield in a place called Bull Hill in a one room hunting camp with bunk beds, one stove, and probably too many baked beans. The mount of that buck’s head and antlers, seen in this photo of my father’s jeep mired at an angle in mud, is on my Moosehead Lake camp wall.
I was always sad to be left out, but probably ignorant of what living in a one room cabin with lots of un-showered, unshaven, beans-eating men would be like. I used those left-out feelings in my first novel.
Excerpt from DEADLY TRESPASS:
Twenty minutes and ten miles east of town, I parked below moss-covered racks where Conover hunters hung game off the ground. I don’t hunt, but I could have. I wanted to change male traditions by calling myself Patton, but each fall the “Bring Your Rifle Leave Your Woman”sign hung on Antler Camp’s door.
Each fall my mother and I sharpened knives and cut butcher paper into squares until my father’s Jeep, groaning under deer tied on the hood and jammed-together uncles, pulled into our yard. Grinning like royalty, my brother, Giffy, rode a pile of guns in the backseat. I decided hunting had to be overrated if it hurt so much to be left out.
Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson: They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is one from 1951, when my entire small family on my father’s side got together at my grandparents’ house. The only one missing is my cousin Fred, who was in the military at the time/