The Sandman: More Farm Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Thanksgiving Story

dropcap image NCE upon a time there was a farm-house, and it was painted white and had green blinds; and it stood not far from the road. In the fence was a wide gate to let the wagons through to the barn. And the wagons, going through, had made a little track that led up past the kitchen door and past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field.

One day, after the summer was all over and all the things had been gathered, and everything was ready for the long winter, Uncle John and the three little boys came stamping in at the kitchen door, with their skates hanging around their necks and snow on their caps and comforters. It was Thanksgiving morning, and they had all been to the pond to skate. And before they had got through skating, it had begun to snow, and the snow was covering the ice all up, but it wasn't snowing very hard yet. Then Uncle John and the little boys all took off their mittens and their caps and their comforters and their coats, and they went up-stairs and put on their Sunday clothes, for it was almost dinner-time.

While Uncle John and the boys had been off skating on the pond, Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Deborah had been very busy in the kitchen, getting ready for the Thanksgiving dinner. All the pies were already baked, the day before, and there were a lot of pies and the cranberry sauce was all made, and everything that they could get ready before Thanksgiving Day was all ready. But there were a good many things that had to be cooked that same morning, so that they would be nice. There was the squash and the potato and the turnips, and there was the turkey.


It was a great big turkey, the biggest that Uncle Solomon could find and Aunt Deborah had fixed it all up, and she had stuffed it with chestnuts and a lot of other nice things. When the little boys came down-stairs, the turkey wasn't done, and it was in front of the fire, in the roasting thing, and the fire was roaring hot. So little John had to stay there and watch the turkey, and turn it around once in awhile, and pour over it some of the gravy that had dripped. He did it with a big spoon, and they call that basting the turkey.

And little Charles had to help Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis and get things for them, and Uncle Solomon and Uncle John made the table as big as they could, and they got pitchers of water from the well, and two big pitchers of cider, from the cellar. Then, while they were all working hard, there was a knock at the door.

The knock wasn't at the kitchen door, but at the biggest door. And Aunt Deborah told little Charles to hurry and open the door and ask the people to step into the parlour. So little Charles ran to the door and there stood Sister Burbanks, and he asked her if she wouldn't please to step into the parlour. And so she did, but Uncle Burbanks said he guessed he would take the horse out to the barn. And Uncle Solomon went with him, to help. And pretty soon there was another knock, and there was Sister Graves and Uncle Graves. And Sister Graves came in and Uncle Graves went out to put the horse in the barn, and Uncle John went with him, to help.


And Sister Graves came in.

And pretty soon there was Uncle Moses and Uncle Abner and Aunt Mary and Sister Bodman and her two little boys. And the two little boys and all the aunts sat in the parlour, while all the uncles were out in the barn, putting up the horses. So little Charles sat in the parlour, too, and as soon as the turkey was done, Aunt Deborah told little John to go. And then there was a knock, and there were Aunt Deborah's father and mother.

Then Aunt Phyllis went up-stairs and put on her black dress, while Aunt Deborah put things on the table. And as soon as Aunt Phyllis came down, she tied an apron over her black dress and finished putting the things on the table, while Aunt Deborah went up-stairs and put on her black dress. When she came down, everything was ready, and all the good things were on the table. So she went into the parlour and asked all the people to walk in to dinner; and all the uncles were coming in from the barn. And they all went into the big kitchen and sat down at the table, that was so big it almost filled the room. Uncle Solomon sat at the middle of one side, and in front of him was the turkey, all brown and crackly and dripping. And right across from him sat Aunt Phyllis, and in front of her were the cranberry sauce and the turnip. And Uncle John sat on one side, and in front of him was a great big ham and Aunt Deborah sat on the other side, and in front of her were the potato and the squash. And the uncles and the aunts sat in the other places and each one had something to help to, and the two big pitchers of cider were where everybody could reach them. At the end of the long table sat Aunt Deborah's father, and at the other end sat her mother.

When everybody was ready, Aunt Deborah's father said grace, but it was a very short prayer. Then Uncle Solomon and Uncle John began to sharpen their carving-knives, and when the knives were sharp, they carved the meat, and put it on the plates. Uncle Solomon put on a piece of turkey and some stuffing and passed the plate to Aunt Phyllis. She put on some cranberry sauce and some turnip and passed the plate to Uncle John. He put on a piece of ham and passed it to Aunt Deborah; and Aunt Deborah put on some potato and some squash and passed the plate along to the person it was meant for. And each one took some cider, and when they were all helped, they began to eat. The plates were heaped up with things to eat, but that didn't make any difference. All the people ate a great deal, because it was Thanksgiving Day, and they had to eat all they could on Thanksgiving Day. And some of them were helped twice, so that when they were through with that part of the dinner, that was the last of that great big turkey. It was all eaten up, and nothing left but bones.

Then Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis got up and took away all the plates they had been using, and the turkey platter and the ham platter, and put them out of the way, on another table. Then they brought the pies. There were mince pies and squash pies and apple pies, two kinds, and cranberry pies and potato pies. And there were nuts and apples and gingerbread and cake in the middle of the table. Then they helped to the pies, and almost everybody had two kinds, some of them more. They ate more pie than you would think anybody could eat, and the cider helped the pie go down; and then they had nuts and apples and cake and gingerbread.

But little Charles and little John were filled way up to their chins and they couldn't eat any nuts or apples then. So they filled their pockets with nuts, and each took an apple and a little piece of gingerbread. Then they put on their coats and comforters and caps and mittens and ran quickly out through the snow to the barn, and the two little Bodman boys went with them. They played about in the great open place in the barn, and chased each other and had a good time. And pretty soon they found they had some room for nuts and apples. The nuts were some hickory nuts that they had gathered themselves, with Uncle John. So they sat about and ate their apples and picked the meat out of the nuts and ate the meat, and looked out at the snow that was coming down very fast.

After the little boys had taken their nuts and apples and gone out to the barn, the other people sat at the table until they had finished their nuts and apples. Then all the uncles and aunts and the grandfathers and grandmothers went into the parlour and sat down. And Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Deborah hurried and took the plates off the table and began to clear up. And Aunt Mary heard the noise of the clearing up, and she couldn't stand it. So she got up and went back into the kitchen and told Aunt Deborah that she wasn't going to be sitting in the parlour with her hands folded while Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis cleared up all that mess. So she put an apron around her black dress and helped. And Sister Burbanks and Sister Graves and Sister Bodman all came in and said the same thing. So they cleared up all the things very quickly and they all liked doing it. Then they took off their aprons and went back into the parlour and sat down.

Before they had been sitting in the parlour very long, Uncle Burbanks looked out of the window and saw that it was snowing very hard. So he said that if they wanted to get home with that carryall, they'd better be thinking of starting along, or else the snow would be too deep. So he went out to the barn to get his horse ready. And all the other uncles looked out and thought perhaps they'd better be starting along, too. So they all went out to the barn, and Uncle Solomon and Uncle John went with them to help; and all the aunts began putting on their coats and hoods and shawls and all the other things they wore to keep them warm and to keep the snow off them. And Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis talked to them and said how glad they were that they could all come, and all the aunts said what a nice dinner it was, and what a good time they had had.

Then, pretty soon, Uncle Burbanks came along through the snow, leading his horse, and he stopped at the door, and Sister Burbanks got into the carryall, and he tucked the buffalo robe in about her feet and all around, to keep her dry and warm. Then he got in, in front, and they drove off. Then came Uncle Graves, and Uncle John with Sister Bodman's horse, and Uncle Moses and Uncle Abner, and Uncle Solomon with the other grandfather's horse. And all the people got into the carriages that were theirs, and they were all bundled up, and drove off through the snow. And when the other grandfather and grandmother drove off, little Charles and little John were hanging on behind. They rode down as far as the wide gate and then they tumbled off into the snow. And they ran back to the kitchen door and went in.

And that's all.