Grandma’s 3 Thanksgiving Postcards: Red Leaf, Cheery Harvest, Shakespeare Quote

Before families went over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, a postcard may have appeared in their mailbox to mark this grand American holiday of gratitude in the early 1900s.

Grandma Fanny Longenecker saved three of hers.


In this card dated 1909 a brilliant oak leaf, an acorn cup and a fan-tailed turkey displayed “Hearty Thanksgiving wishes” though the celebration could not have ended well for this turkey.

(Incidentally, no filters or other photographic enhancements were used on these antique cards. Their brilliance remains after 100+ years.)


Again, in the card above postmarked 1910, edible and bucolic images warm the scene which included another cozy house by the roadside.


Someone had already begun using a nutcracker on the walnuts in this still life from 1911 with an expression of hope for a happy mealtime. The quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth (Act iii, scene 4) is ironic: Macbeth and his wife, attempting to cover up their dastardly deed of killing King Duncan, host a dinner where the condemning ghost of Banquo is about to appear. Clearly, the postcard designer took this quote out of context.

Though no ghosts may appear during your Thanksgiving celebration, you may be saddened by the specter of empty seats around the table.

Again this year, there are empty chairs at our table too. Here’s one:

Now a fixture on our table: Place card from wedding of Mother's niece, Janet Metzler
Now a fixture on our table: Place card from the wedding of Mother’s niece, Janet Metzler Diem


“Grah-ti-tood” is the title of my very first blog post published February 25, 2013. Although it was not Thanksgiving season then, I knew gratitude could be a theme that may thread itself through my postings. Only two former students and a church friend responded to this first attempt at blogging. You can read it here.


Thank you for joining me in many posts since then. Our conversations here keep me going.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thanksgiving blessings with many happy memories!


56 thoughts on “Grandma’s 3 Thanksgiving Postcards: Red Leaf, Cheery Harvest, Shakespeare Quote

  1. Good morning, Marian! David beat me as first responded this time. 🙂
    I love your collection of old postcards. I laughed at the Macbeth quote–so out of context.
    I am sure there are many who will miss loved ones at the table. (Do you know, “Les Mis”–“empty chairs at empty tables?”) But I love David’s thought about people in the future raising their glasses to you.
    I’ll raise a glass–or a coffee cup–to you now, Marian, and wish you and yours a most happy Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good morning and may gratitude follow you all your days, Marian. Though Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday, this year Woody and I have chosen not to celebrate it in the traditional way. We’ll be home and have decided to go out for Thai food and take a long walk in our woods. And, I’ll be making a snow angel for Joan. I’ll make one for you too, Marian, if you’d like.

    Loved the vibrant colors on that first post card. Happy Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can you believe the brilliance of the first post card. That’s what comes of hibernating in a desk for decades. Darkness is not all bad – ha!

      I love the idea of your and Woody’s quiet celebration. No pile of dishes to wash or major clean-up. Besides, I like Asian food too.

      Yes, do make a snow angel for me: thanks! 🙂


    1. That was grandson Curtis’ entry in 2013. He’s a 13-year-old now with much different opinions. I’m glad this is preserved here.

      Thanks for the good wishes. I imagine you and your extended family gathered ’round, Italian style. Blessings to all!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These cards are beautiful! Amazing that something so old can stay brilliant so long. What a wonderful tradition our ancestors handed down to us of setting aside a day to say Thank you. That’s something I never want to lose. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This year has brought you many good things, including a book contract, which may at times seem like a mixed blessing – right?

      You too come from a tradition of gratitude which teaches us to celebrate thanksgiving all year long. Thanks for joining the conversation here, Luci.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Gorgeous brilliant photos capturing the spirit! Thank you Marian – definitely no intention behind the Shakespeare quote. Yes, raising a glass to those dearly departed and absent friends is a ritual we enact at Christmas time …

    Happy Everything Marian to you and your family – and to all …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marian — the VIVID colors in yesteryear’s postcards are outstanding and point to quality and craftsmanship that’s much harder to come by today.

    If I had known you in February of 2013, you can be sure I should have followed your blog. I always feel a warm welcome and enjoy my time here.

    We, too, have people missing from the table this year, and while we don’t set a place for them, they are resident in our hearts and remembered out loud as we “go ’round the circle” and share a thoughts and stories.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Marian for this lovely Thanksgiving post. It’s such a delight to look at these gorgeous greeting cards! In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October.
    My sister and I are going through boxes of old books our parents left in their garage. We are finding some treasures to keep, the rest will be donated to a local second hand MCC bookstore.
    Yesterday we had the first snow fall. Very late for this part of the country. The latest in over 100 years! I don’t mind. Anything to make the long winter season just a bit shorter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sending greetings from Manitoba (I think I’m right on the province)! How fortunate that you have companionship going through boxes of old things. It can be such a lonely job otherwise.

      Snowfall in Florida would create quite a stir. Everything would shut down and all would be calm and quiet for a change. Nevertheless, I understand your comment about a late first snow. I think you and I would have major adjustments were we to switch climates.


      1. Marian, actually we were in Africa for almost 20 years and as a child I lived for 5 years in Paraguay, so I would probably feel quite at home in your climate! I don’t like the snow much (just for Christmas!)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Marian, on this day before Thanksgiving I feel genuine “Grah-ti-tood” for you, your respect for and sharing of your family memories, your friendship and inspiration. The journal is a precious keepsake, what my mother would call a “grab to take with you in case of fire.” Wonderful! 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to have students do journal entries on what they would save from destruction – usually a fire, but in Florida hurricanes are a consideration too. Years ago, saving photo albums was often at the top of the list. Now so much is digital, their responses would be quite different.

      Thank you too for your online friendship and inspiration – always!


  8. I especially enjoyed looking at your first blog. Thank you Marian.
    I am full of grah-ti-tood for your lively memories that you share with us. We need the memories of living in a time when the role of religion, education and family life was to grow our spirits rather than feed our fears or capture and control our politics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can echo an “Amen” to your suggestion that “the role of religion, education and family life was to grow our spirits rather than feed our fears or capture and control our politics.” Growing up the threats to national well-being seemed to be mostly from without (communism) – not internal, as we are experiencing now.

      Thank you for our friendship over the years – and our kinship too in exploring memories via memoir. (Remember Dr. Ben’s class!) I appreciate too your looking at my first blog post. Truthfully, I was such an ingenue then and didn’t know enough at first to hit the reply button. Ha!


  9. Your cards are beautiful and I was so touched by Aunt Ruthie’s place setting.It’s a lovely reminder of how the spirits of our ancestors join us around our family tables. Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The place card is actually my mother’s, but how could you know the difference: My aunt and mother have the same name, down to the middle initial. 🙂

      Blessings to you and your family. I know you’ll have a fine feast with all those grands.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Your beautiful postcards reminded me of old Ideals magazines that I adored thumbing through. I’m sure my mother sold them or got rid of them before a move. When an elderly friend lost his wife about 12 years ago, gradually he wanted to get rid of some things she had saved too, and now I have two of those old Ideals mags/books. I probably won’t keep them forever but I enjoyed glancing at them this morning after reading your post. Such nostalgia. Sometimes good in small doses, but I don’t want to live in yesteryear 🙂 and I know you don’t either. Enjoy the next couple days celebrating faith and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t thought about Ideals magazines for ages, but I remember leafing through Aunt Ruthie’s stash when I was a little girl. As we go through her things next year, I am sure some other issues will surface. The photography was wonderful even then.

      I wonder now whether our children will apply the sweet patina of nostalgia to this era, which to us now seems so turbulent.

      Enjoy your abundance with a loving family this season, Melodie.


  11. Ahhhhhhh such an adorable post …those post cards are so precious . It’s so sad at this time of year when we don’t have our loved ones but let’s us be grateful for all the wonderful years we had them …happy thanksgiving my darling . I hope you have a lovely time .
    I looked back at your first post and I never realised your love of Alexander Mcall Smith . He is one of my favourite authors . I met him at the Hay festival last year, he was a delight ( do google Hay festival wow what a place to go , I go every year. I’ m meeting a friend there for Christmas shopping soon)
    We have so much to be grateful for don’t we …enjoy❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I snap up most of Alexander McCall Smith’s books – He has a gift for making us smile at his characters whose flaws remind us of our own. (Speaking for myself of course, Cherry!)

      Of course I’ll google the Hay Festival. I do envy the fact that you met the author there. Such a smart, learned man who seems to me – so down to earth too!

      I count your friendship among my blessings this season. You are a dear! 🙂


  12. What a wonderful post with those beautiful cards. What great memories. I love how you have a setting for Mom. I couldn’t do that everyone at my house would break into mourning. My children still real into tears at the mention of times with Linda and Mom. It takes time for some people. I can hold my pain to time alone. We all handle it differently. I love Thanksgiving and the great memories of those who have passed. I hope you all have a great day tomorrow. Enjoy your new place and family. My daughter just bought a house and is doing thanks giving at her home I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aren’t you glad you don’t have the fuss of Thanksgiving at your house this year – Ha! I’m sure the festivities are in good hands with the daughter you have trained.

      And you are so right – we all handle loss of loved ones differently. Yes, precious memories, how they linger. Blessings, Gloria! 🙂


  13. What a wonderful post with those beautiful cards. What great memories. I love how you have a setting for Mom. I couldn’t do that everyone at my house would break into mourning. My children still go into tears at the mention of times with Linda and Mom. It takes time for some people. I can hold my pain to time alone. We all handle it differently. I love Thanksgiving and the great memories of those who have passed. I hope you all have a great day tomorrow. Enjoy your new place with your family. My daughter just bought a house and is doing thanksgiving at her home I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful.


  14. Thank you, Marian. Those were my first thoughts about the turkey, but we love images of happy turkeys. I wonder if a squirrel did a little work on the nuts. 😉 Best part for me is the place card for Aunt Ruthie, right there in the middle of everyone’s heart.

    Friends arrive today for a vegetarian feast. Because people often ask what vegetarians eat, we’re having black bean burgers with pasta and tomato sauce from the summer garden, winter squash, more vegetables, salad, delightful and beautiful appetizers, red wine, and a baked apple dessert. We will not be hungry. I’ve had Thanksgiving with these friends since Vic died, and as always we’ll include a ritual remembrance for those we love who aren’t here–the living and the dead. One friend grieves a recent loss, so this is our ritual is more important than ever. Flowers and candles, prayers and memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are describing abundance of blessings and rituals to support the grieving. What an anchor of support you are to family and friends. I am so grateful for your friendship and your constant presence here in this space, Elaine.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and all who surround your table! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Those postcards hadn’t seen the light of day for a long, long time. Still, it’s hard to believe that red pigment in the first postcard has lasted 107 years.

      Thanks for commenting on my very first blog post. I replied back! 🙂

      You certainly haven’t let any grass grow under your feet since you began blogging, that’s for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. There were 21 or 22 (didn’t count) at our daughter’d house. The day was ☀️ sunny and our fellowship together was warm. Thanks for the good wishes. I think you mentioned you were traveling – not sure whether you are in England, Sweden or somewhere else now. 😊


  15. These cards truly are brilliant, not only in color, but in the way they carry heritage that your grandchildren are continuing. Thanksgiving is not just a turkey feast or football game tradition, it’s a way of life. The video of your celebration looked very inviting. And I chuckled to see that you corrected the context, showing the irony, on the Shakespeare quote.

    May Thanksgiving continue in your life, your family, and among all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If my guess is correct, you have transformed from hostess in VA to anchoress in MN once again. What a semester you are having as I see it unfold on your blog and Facebook postings. I imagine it will take some time to process it all.

      I’m so happy to have you as a sister in faith alongside me on this amazing earth walk. Thank you, Shirley!


    1. No ghosts but plenty of people milling about and then seated at 3 tables, U-shaped, sort of!

      Actually Thanksgiving seems a long time ago though it was only a week. Christmas is in full gear here, and then only snow I see is on my computer screen. Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca.


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