From all of us
The authors of our gang share a few stories:
Nicola McDonagh, Haiku Thanksgiving themed poem:
Brown leaves drift on the
Scent of pumpkin pie bringing
Eager mouths to feast
White sky’s tepid sun
Shines faintly on the supper
Warming cold kinship
Can the moon look down
And change its surprised look to
One of thankfulness?
Ruth de Jauregui
We do a family potluck at Thanksgiving, so we have everything from the traditional turkey and ham to macaroni and cheese to a variety of sweets and pies, including my own sweet potato pie.
Dad was allergic to mushrooms, so no “toadstools” allowed in the house!! The thundering herd (teens) always had to wait until Grandma, Dad and guests had helped their plates, then the teens could inhale the rest of the food. The Macy’s parade, football, and hours of HGTV filled in the rest of the day.
Stuffed to gills, I usually have to leave that evening because Black Friday isn’t just a big day in the stores -- we sell a lot of gift items through the call center. So hi-ho, hi-ho, home I go so I’m ready to get up at o’dark thirty and head out for work.
Erika M Szabo
Growing up in Europe, Thanksgiving was a religious holiday with a big feast. My mom was an excellent cook, so most of the family members kind of invited themselves to holiday dinners. We were expecting about ten guests on this particular Thanksgiving Day when I was thirteen-years-old, but mom had to go on an unexpected business trip and she wanted to cancel the dinner, but my dad said we can handle it. Mom was a bit skeptical but told us that everything we needed was in the fridge and cupboard, so it would be easy to cook the feast. Soon dad realized that he made a very foolish promise when he checked the fridge. There was no goose in it that mom had planned to roast. She forgot to tell us that we had to kill and pluck the goose ourselves.
Dad scratched his head, grabbed a knife and said, "We're going to kill a goose."
My blood froze when I remembered seeing mom catching and killing a chicken so I sad, "No way! I'm not going to and I will not even watch you do it!"
Dad sighed and headed out to the fenced backyard where we kept the chickens, ducks, and geese. I turned the volume up on the TV to block the frightened sounds of the birds.
A few minutes later dad came back empty-handed and told me, "I couldn't do it. As I held the goose, it looked at me with those eyes... I swear that bird knew what I wanted to do. I'll go to the butcher and buy a goose."
He did and we cooked and baked all day feeling pretty good about ourselves. Mom made it home just in time to quickly wash up before the guests arrived. Dad and I set the table, got the pastries, that mom baked the day before, ready, and the goose was still roasting in the oven.
The guests arrived and when everyone was ready to eat, dad started carving the goose at the small table in the corner of the dining room. He suddenly stopped, glanced at me and motioned to me to come over. He whispered, "Did you put stuffing in the goose after you washed it?"
"No, dad, it was in there," I replied.
"Then do you mean it was in there?" he
"Well, there was a neat package inside the bird, so I thought it was the stuffing wrapped in paper and we were supposed to bake it with the goose."
"Oh, crap!" he said. "It must be the gizzards and we were supposed to take it out. Your mother is going to kill me!"
"Not if she doesn't find out," I whispered glancing at the table where mom was entertaining the guests with a story.
"Nobody is looking, give me that package. It's cooked, so I'll give it to Mop."
Dad's face lit up, "Right! He'll get rid of the evidence." He winked and reached inside the bird with a fork and moved a little so the guests would not see what we were doing.
In my haste, I didn't think and just grabbed the package and with tears in my eyes, I walked out of the dining room. The wrapped gizzards were so hot that it took all my strength to fight the urge to drop it. In the mudroom, I shook out the gizzards from the wrapping paper into my dog's bowl and he happily gobbled it up.
The dinner was a success, everyone enjoyed the food. After dinner mom went to feed the dog but came back and said, "Something is wrong with Mop. He sniffed his food but he doesn't want to eat."
Dad flashed a quick smile at me and said, "We fed him before dinner."
Thanksgiving Day when I was a kid was always a big affair. While we celebrated in the usual way, with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and such, being Sicilian, my family also served lasagna, stuff shells, meatballs, Italian sausage, cannoli, anisette cookies, and other pastries. I remember my Dad, always filling bowls with fresh fruit and nuts -- all kinds of nuts: walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, Hazelnuts, almonds, and pecans. And olives, plenty of olives. Some of my female cousins would fill bowls with cream cheese, add a different food coloring to each, stir them up, and then fill short stalks of celery with different-colored cream cheese. Of course, there was always a lot of loud conversation and arguing going on, before and after dinner. The men would go off to watch football, the women would sit around and tell stories, and we kids would watch the Macy's parade. If it was nice outside, we'd go out and play. The best part was always the day after: Black Friday. That was a no school day for us, and one of my aunts used to take us kids into downtown Chicago to enjoy all the decorations on State Street and the window displays of all the department stores. Of course, we hit every toy department we could find, and we always had lunch at the old Marshall Field's, around their huge Christmas tree. It was an all-day affair, starting at about 8 AM until about 4 or 5 PM. Sometimes we'd even take in a movie at one of Chicago's grand and elegant movie theaters, before returning home to eat leftovers. But that was then, before grandparents, and first-generation aunts and uncles began passing away before older cousins got married, before both my paternal and maternal families started moving from the city to distant suburbs, and to other states. While my Mom's family keeps growing and growing, my Dad's family, with whom I lived and grew up with, has dwindled. There is only a handful of us left now. The holidays don't mean as much to me since my parents passed away, and I have no wife, ex-wife, kids or grandkids, but I still celebrate with a cousin, her husband, their two sons, and two granddaughters. Sometimes a girlfriend or two join us. The food's the same, although not as much of it. The conversations and arguments are the same, but instead of football and movies, we end the day watching movies on Netflix, and I usually end up spending the night. But I cherish my childhood memories, and I am most thankful for those, for the family I had, the family I have, and the many blessings that I never stop counting.
My husband and I are stuck in a perpetual family tug-o-war. We spend one holiday with his family and the other with mine; the next year we alternate. There was one year though when a bit of magic occurred. Somehow, we were able to get away, just the two of us, so we decided to head to Atlantic City.
I know Atlantic City doesn’t scream Thanksgiving, but it was just what we needed. We rented a timeshare so I could have access to a kitchen, where I prepared our couples Thanksgiving feast. The weather was just on the verge of being cold, the nice kind of cool that requires a scarf and jacket, but no need to bundle up.
We ate out the first night and then headed to bed since I’d worked that day and needed to wake early to plan our feast. I prepared a Garlic Apple glazed chicken, a rosemary potato and apple medley, honey and roasted garlic glazed carrots, green beans, and served a store-bought sweet potato pie.
The next day when we decided to visit The Pier, boardwalk, and casinos, we learned that an Asian Cultural festival was happening. It was so much fun. All the diverse Asian people asking us to take pictures of them and wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving. As much as I truly enjoy those special moments, of glee and even frustration spent with family, plus all the homemade casseroles and desserts, I’ll never forget the peace and romance of that one couples’ Thanksgiving my husband and I were able to experience.
Everyone has a favorite holiday…some the more traditional, others the more obscure. Thanksgiving is and always has been my favorite holiday.
I grew up in Northern Montana, an only child. My father died when I was nine years old, and my stepdad a couple years after that. Most of my growing up was spent alone with my mother. She was a fabulous cook. We always had turkey, homemade dressing and gravy real mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie with real whipped cream.
The day began with her putting the finishing touches on dinner and us sitting down to watch the Thanksgiving Day parades…Macy’s parade from New York, Gimbel’s parade from Philadelphia, J.L. Hudson Parade from Detroit with its smattering of mummers, and my favorite of all—the Eaton Santa Claus Parade from Toronto, Ontario Canada.
Dinner would be served around noon. After dishes were done, we’d spend the afternoon playing canasta or some other card game until I got bored and retreated to my room to do my own thing. Usually, after a dinner of leftovers, Christmas decorations would find their way to the kitchen table.
As a young 30+ adult with two growing boys, our tradition was much the same, except we usually had a house filled with friends and family…all fighting over who was going to get the legs of the 25# turkey I’d cooked!
Now, in my silver years (to some old age!), family is down to just me. My sons do their own thing and I usually have a friend for dinner and we sit and visit the afternoon away.
In this season of my life, it’s no longer about the food or the companionship, but rather about me taking stock in the many blessings in my life. You know, those things that we have that we need to be thankful for. I’m thankful for a safe living space in a beautiful neighborhood, for knowledgeable/competent physicians who truly care about their patients, for friends who’ve become family, for talents and gifts—writing, knitting, painting, public speaking. It’s about being thankful and finding ways to be kind and compassionate to those around me. It’s relying on my faith foundation to stoke my flames and carry forward the peace that’s in all of us.
Take a moment to reflect on Thanksgiving 2017…on all the moments up to this point and utter a word or two of gratitude. Gratitude changes attitude. It truly does.