Really neat postings. I personally have loved this holiday all my life. Mom would get up at 3 or 4 AM T'day and begin the cooking. I'm a granny now so that can tell you we didn't have any instant anything to work with. We had little money and no room for error so we made sure all was as perfect as possible. All the girls chipped in from small to tall.
As a granny now I try to do things low key and low stress. I post a wants list on the fridge and advertise WHAT DO YOU WANT ON THE TABLE? questions to all who plan to come. I open it up for anyone to come if they can, but tell them I understand if they can't I am the last to criticize since for over 20 years as I trekked through life in military and then as military spouse, I never was able to attend fam get-togethers. I like to get loads of photos, let the kids eat at the big table, let babies smoosh mashed taters and try new foods, load up on every fat and sugar known to man and make sure to place old photos around. Particularly important is my effort to keep a photo of my Native American family ancestors since reportedly this Indian/Pilgrim detante idea is the theme. I hope that someone is willing to say a prayer and that all are thankful for what they have been blessed with and for hopes of the future. But again, that is a personal or individual thing.
I set the table in as grand a fashion as my budget allows. I try to use the best we own, and I also try to place a Christmas or Chanukah or other holiday ornament on each plate or family group of plates for take home. Sometimes I make the ornament and sometimes I buy them. I make sure that there's plenty of food and that anyone who wants to bring food can, but no one should feel obligated. I do my personal memories of the past in my own quiet time during the day and reminisce about days when as a child for a short period we were homeless, and had no promise of food or shelter. I make my peace with that and then through the day I try to take a mental snapshot of my hands. The first time I did that I was ten, looking down at my baby brother, comparing his hands to mine, and promised myself I would watch with pride as my hands aged. I knew in my heart that my hands would age much like my mom's or grandmother's - whose age caused the skin to thin and darken and wrinkle. I am watching that happen now to me. Thanksgiving is the one time of year that I make the concerted effort to reflect on what my hands have done, and all the years that I have celebrated that holiday with or without others, and with or without food, and with or without any hope of anything but what is here and now.
My Thanksgiving reflection this year will include all of you in Craftster world. You are a wonderful group that sees to it your cyber family is appreciated no matter the size, color, age, financial status, home, or creed. Thank you all for helping to create that family.