I sometimes wonder what Grandma Annie would think of what I have written about her on this blog. Would she blush at her little bit of fame? Would she cringe? Or, would she scold me and then turn away with that secret smile on her face?
The latter, I like to think. Maybe I am wrong.
She certainly never sought any kind of fame, or even fortune. Her marriage was 100 years ago now, and in the early days of that marriage she lived next door to her in-laws and then a block away from her parents. Within 10 years of her marriage, she moved back into her parents' home, taking the downstairs flat, which had been a general store. She raised her four daughters there until 1930, when the building was converted into a stately home, close to the street on its south and west sides but with a spacious yard and garden on the north and east sides.
She never traveled farther than Chicago, to my knowledge, but she loved the bustle of the city and shopping at big old department stores like Marshall Fields. Her life centered around her home and family: Cooking, cleaning and sewing. Cooking especially. She was known for her quality baked goods, and quality they were: No one else knew how to make such wonderful rolls, cookies, breads, pies and cakes as Annie's, not even local bakeries. (Naturally, she loved other people's baking.)
Annie was a whiz with a sewing machine, too, and when she left school she worked for a time as an apprentice seamstress. She took aging garments and remodeled them, a skill that surely put her and her daughters in good stead during the Depression and World War II. She made aprons, tablecloths, napkins and hot pads out of sprigged or flowered cotton, often giving them as gifts. I still have an apple-print set she made for me when I moved out on my own. It's much too large for my table now, but I cherish it.
Tomorrow I will set my table with her goblets and her her sherbet bowls summoning her spirit as I prepare food for the people I love most.
I know she will be there. I need no empty seat to assure that.
May you and those you love find many reasons to give thanks tomorrow.