When you were young the biggest deal about Thanksgiving was that it meant two days away from school. The second-biggest thing was the Thanksgiving meal, although depending upon age and interests, it might have been the one football game that was on television — if you had a television. Trust me, there used to be just one football game on TV, unlike the morning-to-night lineup we have now. 

As you got older the biggest deal about Thanksgiving might have been the day away from work, a day that used to stretch into two for those making it a four-day weekend, and now is a five-day weekend for many who take off on Tuesday and skip work on Wednesday. (I don't think President Lincoln had that in mind back in 1863 when he proclaimed a day of thanksgiving during the height of the Civil War, coming 74 years after President Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving.)

The Meal — you know, the one that sent you slowly away from the table wondering why you did that to yourself — may have rated a close second to a day off from work, unless you were the one who had to do the preparation.

Nowadays, of course, some turn to outside resources such as a restaurant for the Thanksgiving meal, something no self-respecting homemaker would have allowed years ago. Mom and Dad and the kids jump in the SUV and off they go to a local eatery.  Or sons and daughters pick up Mom and Dad. and maybe Grandma and Grandpa, and consume their Thanksgiving dinner away from the coziness of home. "Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go . . .," as Lydia Childs wrote back in 1844, has become a thing of the past.

My, how things have changed! 

Remember all the bustling around the day before to get prepared for the Thanksgiving feast the next day? And then Mom had to get up early Thursday morning because there was church that morning and some things had to be done beforehand.

I remember the anticipation after coming home from church and breathing in the aroma of the Thanksgiving dinner that was being prepared. And since this was in the days when my mother and sisters did all the work, I had nothing to do but wait for the meal to begin. That meant kicking a football around outside or watching football on a black-and-white TV (no 58-inch color sets then) with the Packers and the Lions playing, usually in the cold and snow (no indoor stadiums either).

When it came time for the meal one hardly knew where to start. With nine people sitting around the table I was always afraid I would miss something. But it never happened. 

There was the turkey, of course, the main feature of Thanksgiving then and forever. We always had stuffing (not from a box) and that stuffing had to include raisins and celery, as far as I was concerned. But we also had plain stuffing to appease those who didn't want it cluttered up with such extras.

Some years there was a ham and raisin sauce to go along with the turkey, as well as cranberry sauce (not out of cans but homemade), sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, more than one kind of vegetable, and homemade bread, a couple loaves of which would disappear during a Thanksgiving meal, along with rolls and butter and homemade jam.

 And then, if you could still move, there was always the pumpkin pie (homemade) with whipped cream, as well as mincemeat pie. Some liked one kind of pie, some liked the other, and I always had both.

Somehow, although I can't understand how this many years later, there was always another meal, referred to as supper back then, later that day. And that would come despite constant picking on the leftovers throughout the afternoon.There was always that last little bit of meat to be gleaned from those ham bones. And then there were those turkey sandwiches the next day.

I don't think those Pilgrims knew what they were starting back in 1621 when they got together with Massasoit and Squanto and members of the Wampanoag tribe. But it's a wonderful tradition, a time to pause and give thanks . . . and a time for memories.

 PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES

Dec. 4, 1959 -  It was reported that 1958 PHS grad Al Fischer had been redshirted by the Nebraska football team. Fischer went on to become a three-year starter at offensive tackle for the Cornhuskers.

Dec. 3, 1964 - Princeton beat Foley 62-42 as Roger Young had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Gordy Meyer had 11 points and Mike Rajala 10.

Dec. 3, 1969 -  Jeff Howard had 10 points and Mark Jacobs 9 in a 64-25 loss to St. Cloud Cathedral . . . PHS grad Rich Lindstrom was a member of the Concordia College (Moorhead) football team. He went on to be the team's starting center.

Dec. 5, 1974 - Jim Cartwright had 16 points and 10 rebounds in leading Princeton to a 56-36 win over Pine City . . . Jim Pokorny and Robert Young, both of whom became outstanding divers, combined to win the diving competition at the Tiger Relays in Princeton.

Dec. 7, 1979 - Senior tackle Dorren Woodiwiss (6'3", 275 pounds) was named to the WCCO Radio all-state football team . . . St. Francis beat Princeton 53-43 in boys basketballas Don Andrews scored 13 points and Todd Knutson 10.

Dec. 13, 1984 - The boys basketball team beat Foley 62-50 as Tom Blomberg had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Jay Bekius 12 points and Jason Gesch 10 . . . The girls basketball team beat Foley 55-41 as Kim Bottema scored 16 and Ann Minks 13.

Dec. 7, 1989 -  Princeton beat Concordia Academy 70-64 as Matt Ruble had 18 points, Steve Ruis 17, Sean Sahlstrom 15 and Troy Anderson 12 . . .The girls team lost 52-46 to Cambridge as Kris Bottema scored 13. Rachel Brown 10 and Tanya Dorr 9.

Dec. 8, 1994 -  The boys hockey team beat Minneapolis Washburn and Centennial, both by a 3-2 score, to open the season. Justin Priess and Aaron Oliver had the winning goals . . . Mandee Young and Sandy Thompson each scored 14 points in a 63-60 loss to St. Paul Humboldt. Thompson had 15 rebounds.

Dec. 3, 1999 - Eighth-grader Lisa Pearson placed ninth in the 100-yard backstroke at the state swim meet . . . The girls hockey team shut out Marshall 5-0 as Cara Verkinnes scored three goals . . . PHS grad Phil Trier, a defensive end for St. John's, was named all-conference on the MIAC's second team.

Dec. 2, 2004 -  Cassie Tindell competed in two events at the state swim meet . . . All-conference in football were Nick Daigle, Alex Geithman, Ryan Kotnik (all repeat selections), Kyle Buffington, Derek Fay and Jake Ludwig.

Dec. 3, 2009 - The boys hockey team opened the season with a 7-2 win at Robbinsdale Armstrong as Ryne Grove and Trevor Forland each scored two goals . . . The girls hockey team beat Holy Family 4-2 and had ties with Silver Bay and International Falls

Dec. 4, 2014 - The boys hockey team opened with a 10-1 win over Becker/Big Lake as 10 players scored goals, with Tyler McAlpine  and Logan Peterson each having three assists . . . The boys basketball team lost 67-65 to Zimmerman as Brady Peterson scored 20 points.

Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the Princeton area for 52 years.

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