We are big fans of Louisa May Alcott here at Plumfield and Paideia. The “Plumfield” portion of our name comes from her iconic Jo March books. While Alcott notably wrote many full length novels for children and young readers, she also wrote many endearing short stories. An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving is one of them.
Thanks to a friend and reader of this website, I discovered this pretty version with illustration from Holly Johnson. I think that it is a wonderful way to read this charming little story.
The Bassett family in the New Hampshire hills is a large and happy farm family. The story opens on the eve of Thanksgiving with Mrs. Bassett and her older daughters working merrily in the kitchen to prepare a Thanksgiving feast. The baby is sitting in her kitchen crib playing while being highly entertained by all of the commotion. The big boys and little kids come and go protesting hunger. The scene is quaint, homey, and rather charming.
When a visitor rushes up to the farm to report that Mrs. Bassett’s mother is failing fast from a serious illness, Mrs. Bassett and her husband bundle the baby and depart for grandma’s house. Having no servants, the Bassetts charge their oldest children to prepare against an impending storm and to keep everyone warm, well fed, and safe for at least two days until Father returns.
The majority of the story covers the adventures, mishaps, and challenges the children have in their parents’ absence. With classic Alcott flair, there is a bear attack (or is there?), there are some brilliant failures in the kitchen, and all is more or less put right in a very happy ending.
In 2009, Hallmark made a t.v. movie by the same name. I love the movie. It is practically unrelated to the story, but it is wholesome and charming on its own. The story book is ideal for young children. The movie is for families with older children. The movie has some family tension, a romantic subplot, and some twists and turns. As in most of the Alcott movies, the discerning viewer will be able to see elements of the original Alcott story reworked with modern sensibilities and new story lines.
This sweet little story is perfect for a fireside read aloud after a rich Thanksgiving feast. Utterly wholesome, but also highly imaginative, Alcott tells a story that we want to hear.