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Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America.

Thanksgiving Day is the most important holiday of the year.

We have all been getting ready for a long time and tomorrow it shall be HERE.  I am happy that today is pleasant.  It was cold last night and now it is bright and sunny.  When the sun is shining, the cold does not matter so much.  Josh and Brent will have to stay out of the way today although no one seems to stumble over them.  I guess that is because I am the only one who can see them.  The women and girls in the kitchen have been busy for days.  Mother hired extra help this year.  All of our family will be coming home because the roads are not yet snow covered and they are dry.  Some of the girls will work for wages and some for credits at the store.  Of course, the store is closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Some neighbors do not have bake ovens and Mother welcomes them to use our ovens for the day before the holiday.  We need much wood because it seems as though our ovens must always be ready; at least be heated three times.  Yesterday in the late afternoon, a family without much came to the back door and asked for food.  The Father was without work or wage.  I peeked out the window and their little girl was not dressed very warmly.  Mother fed them all.  After they had gone, she sent Brother to a near farm to invite a newly widowed woman to be with us on the holiday.

Mother’s circle prepared baskets of food for the people who are in need.  Father and other men helped to deliver them.  They are always heavy.  We all help pack each basket.  Father says we have plenty and sharing is not just a duty, it is an honor.  I do not know what he means when he says days are difficult this year.  Josh and Brent told me that the world economy is not healthy.  Are we not well?  They tried to explain it to me, but I am not certain I understand.  I shall try and be thankful enough for everyone.

Cranberry Tart

American Cookery by Amelia Simmon, 1798

Stewed, strained and sweetened and put into paste No. 9 and baked gently.

Royal Paste No. 9 –

Rub half a pound of butter into one pound of flour, four egg whites beat to a foam, add two yolks, two ounces of fine sugar, roll often, rubbing one third, and rolling two thirds of the butter is best; excellent for tarts and apple cake.

by Mary Beekman

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