Fixing large meals was routine for Alice. But making a holiday meal took more planning on her meager budget. Her boarding house included her five children and six boarders. She managed to feed, clothe, and house everyone with the monthly allotment from the rent she received.
However, extra food for celebrations required scrupulous saving. Alice used her treadle sewing machine to make clothes for well-to-do ladies. Her reputation for creating unique and flattering dresses gave her a side income that provided the extras she felt her children deserved every so often.
But the rich patrons were not always the kindest, and their demands had to be exceeded for Alice to receive her full payment. Yards of satin and taffeta hung in her tiny sewing alcove. The steady rhythm of the machine could be heard in the early morning hours. She was creating two gowns for the upcoming holiday season and had already made tedious alterations to both of them.
Alice carefully removed the finished gown from the packing box she had carried to the woman’s luxurious manor. She could feel the lady’s piercing gaze as she hung the dress on a nearby rack. No smile could be seen as the lady scrutinized the garment for flaws.
The rich woman remarked briskly, “It will do.” and left the room to retrieve her purse. Alice wondered if she’d be paid in full or be docked for some perceived flaw.
The woman returned with a sealed envelope and quickly dismissed Alice to the front door.
Alice waited until she was home to open the envelope. She rejoiced when she received her full payment plus a small bonus that would certainly provide enough for the feast she could now plan.
But before she made her shopping list, she first wrote a thank you card to the thoughtful lady—the money came when it was most needed. She wished the woman a delightful Thanksgiving with her family.
Alice was truly thankful for this extra provision. As she always liked to say, “God provides.”
Alice was my great grandmother, and even though she passed the year before I was born, I’ve often felt that her heart beats in my own. I admire her courage, strength, and most of all her faith.
Family Thanksgiving 1963.