The House Chronicle from 1970 has only this brief entry from Thanksgiving:
Novem. 25-27 — Fr. Gerald Schmidt and Fr. Marius Noe leave for their folks and for a Thanksgiving Day holiday. Others also perhaps?
However, that is more than the 1950 House Chronicle had to say about the holiday. But 1950 did have a rather lengthy entry from late November gathering to give thanks, in this case for the Silver Jubilee of the clerics’ director, Fr. Mark. Rather than recount the entire nearly-two-page entry, I will share some select passages:
The great day of Jubilee of our Director, Fr. Mark, has been in the mind of the clerics for days. Preparations for the big day were begun weeks in advance. The choir, the decorators, the entertainers, and all with any genius or brawn were conscripted for some kind of work. … (A) play was staged on the eve of the Jubilee…. Between scenes the glee club sang…Frs. John Baptist gave us Pizzicato on his clarinet and Carmel accompanied. … The following morning….(a)t 10 a.m. the procession entered the parish Church …Father Mark celebrated the Mass and was assisted by his brother, Father Herman, C.P. as deacon and Father Guardian (Kevin) as Subdeacon. After the Gospel, Bishop Apollinaris delivered a sermon for the occasion. The clerics gave forth praises to God from the choir loft. At 12 o’clock dinner was served in the school hall. The food was prepared by the women of the parish, headed by the mother of Fr. Emmet. The food was excellent. After the meal the M.C., Fr. Guardian, announced the speakers. In between the speakers, the clerics entertained with a few songs.
On Tuesday we had our “community” Thanksgiving celebration, although the 2020 gathering could not compare to the Silver Jubilee for Fr. Mark. Like the preparations for the Jubilee, though, many contributed their talents to the day. Kim made the turkey and mashed potatoes, Jackie K. made sweet potatoes, Cecilia made the stuffing and Jain picked it up, Marge made dinner rolls, Tracy made the green bean casseroles, Jackie H. contributed the cranberry sauce, Terri brought the pies and JustBob had the honor of carving the turkey.
While all the cooks were working in the kitchen Tuesday morning, Jackie H. and Danny took care of setting out a Thanksgiving buffet for some of our wild friends. They picked up the pumpkins and gourds from around the grounds, took them out to the woods and split them open to make it easier for the critters to enjoy the seeds or the meat. Meanwhile, JustBob was repairing an old hopper-style bird feeder that had been languishing in the basement so he could add that to the bird buffet alongside Tracy’s most recent addition, a nyjer seed feeder.
When everything was ready, the group gathered and Terri led us in prayer. While we shared our meal together, Jackie K. reached out to two members of our group who were not able to join us – Cecilia and Sr. Barb. She called each on her cellphone, then put it on speaker so we could all share our Thanksgiving greetings with them. Just as in 1950, the food was excellent. After the meal, Jain took some leftovers to Cecilia’s home so she could share in the meal as well. (Barb’s meal was waiting for her when she came in Wednesday.)
In this year when so many of us could not travel to visit family for Thanksgiving, when “normal” holiday celebrations were limited or canceled completely, it was refreshing to be able to create our own way to celebrate as a “family”, brothers and sisters in the family of God. And those of us gathered in the refectory to celebrate together did not neglect those unable to gather with us in person, nor did we forget our furry and feathered brothers and sisters who have offered us so much joy in this “far-from-normal” year.
It is a bit comforting to realize that, without consciously trying to do so, we were in some small way echoing the example of the friars and parishioners 70 years before us: coming together and working together as a community so that we might celebrate together as a community and give thanks for our blessings as a community.
For the blessings of “family” gatherings, for the cooperation, care and concern of community, we say Deo Gratias!