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Over The River To Grandfather’s House In Medford

Grandfather's and Grandmother's House In Medford

Site of Grandfather's and Grandmother's House In Medford

We all remember the holiday song “Over the river and through the woods to grandfather’s house we go…”  but did you know that grandfather and grandmother lived in Medford?

Lydia Maria Child wrote the poem, source of the beloved song, about memories of visiting her grandparents in their home by the Mystic River in Medford, Massachusetts.

First published in 1844 in Child’s Flowers for Children Vol. II, the poem was originally titled “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day”. Truth be told I always thought of it as a Christmas song. No wonder – when you search for the lyrics you’ll find versions with Christmas substituted for Thanksgiving. And what’s with all that blowing snow in November?  I also always thought of it as grandmother’s house and many versions refer to “grandmother’s house”, rather than grandfather’s, in the opening lines.

Grandfather’s house that Lydia Maria Child visited was a small farmhouse near the Mystic River.  About 1839 the house was expanded and became a stately Greek Revival. The ell on the back of the house is the original farmhouse.  The house has been restored and is today owned by Tufts University.

Grandfather's House was the original farmhouse in the rear of the 1839 addition

Grandfather's House was the original farmhouse in the rear of the 1839 addition

Here are the verses of A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day aka Over the River and Through the Woods. There’s also a 12-verse version.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood-
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose,
as over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood
and straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go extremely slow-
it is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood-
when Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “o, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for every one.”

Over the river, and through the wood-
now Grandmothers cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The site remembered in “Over The River and Through the Woods to Grandfather’s House We Go…” is at  114 South Street, Medford, MA and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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  2. Lydia Maria Child Explores ‘Over the River and Through the Wood’ | Music in Middle C

    […] her grandparent’s farm house which still stands near the Mystic River on South Street in Medford, Massachusetts and it is on the National Register of Historic places. The woods, slightly thinner, are still there. […]

  3. Over the river… | Lynn Wiles

    […] the river… © Lynn Wiles 2013 The song Over the River and Through the Woods was written about people going over this river to the same town these cars are headed. The poem was […]

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