Thanksgiving Day

When I was a child we always had a big Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner. My father carved the turkey. The slices were nice and thin. He took a lot of pride in his work. My Mom put the wishbone on the widow sill to dry. Whoever found it the next day pulled it apart with the nearest person and made a wish.

When newly married, we were going away on Friday and decided not to do Thanksgiving. We woke up on Thanksgiving morning and said we have to do Thanksgiving. So I sent Peter out to bag a turkey. You can tell I was new at this. Nothing was open except a little Mom and Pop store he found somewhere; and they didn’t have turkeys. So Peter brought home a couple of Cornish Game Hens. I didn’t even know what they were much less how to cook them. I struggled through with The Joy of Cooking cookbook. We had sweet potatoes and canned peas and gave thanks. The forms were observed. I tell you there wasn’t much meat on those birds.

When I was in college, I lived in a Scholarship House. There were thirty of us and one of us prepared menus and bought food each week and another made up the work list for Saturday mornings when we cleaned the house. It was not a dorm or sorority experience, but it worked. Every Sunday we had a sit-down dinner at one o’clock. We often invited guests. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we had a Thanksgiving dinner and invited some students from Thailand who lived across the street. They turned us down flat. They said they weren’t going to eat such an ugly bird. In retrospect we should have said, “When you’re a Pilgrim and you’re starving, you don’t care if it’s an ugly bird.” Turned out the dinner was not too bad considering it was mostly a learning experience for the cooks. The meals were never great. We were all new at this cooking thing. Three of us cooked each day. We were provided with the menu and the food but were on our own as to how to cook it. I was a picky eater when I got there, but by the end of four years, I ate just about anything.

There’s a You Tube of Sam Sifton’s Six Thanksgiving Rules to Live by. It has been around for a while. He is a food editor for the NY Times. I will paraphrase them for you:

  1. You will have Turkey. No Beef Tenderloin, swordfish or goose. Turkey is why you are here.
  2. There will be no appetizers or salad; there is plenty of food. The smells alone will be appetizing enough.
  3. If your guests want to watch football, let them. Give them a drink.
  4. There will be pie for dessert: pecan, mincemeat, or pumpkin. No chocolate. Chocolate is for nights of depression and anxiety.
  5. Clean up after dinner. You have plenty of help. You don’t want to wake up the next morning with a hangover or a food hangover and have to face the mess.
  6. Give thanks. That is why you are here.

Everyone wants to be with family at Thanksgiving. Everyone wants to be home. I love thanksgiving afternoons: generations of families out walking together, friends gathering for a meal together. Our church Rector and family cook a turkey and invite all to come and bring a dish.

One Thanksgiving I was making dinner and my son was helping. I asked him to open a couple of cans of creamed corn, put the contents in a bowl, dot it with butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and put it in the oven. He said, “Mom, is that it? I’ve been bragging to my friends about your creamed corn.” We had a good laugh, which is nice when you’re struggling to get all that food on the table.

3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Day”

  1. Happy Thanksgiving,
    Joanne & Peter. See you in Feb., but my sister and bro-in-law coming down soon to dog-sit for our fave organist choirmaster. Hope yall get to meet.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving, Joanne and Pete. What a nice reminder of past Thanksgivings. We are going to our friends’ house on Thursday, as we have for the past seven or so years. What we miss are the leftovers, so we bought an eleven pound turkey and I’m cooking it on Monday – leftovers all week! Already mixed up the stuffing ready for the oven and made up the cranberry sauce. Some stir-fried potatoes and steamed green beans will round out the main course. The only thing missing is the pumpkin pie, which we’ll probably get on Thursday. thanks for the memories.

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