For some reason I am very much in a Thanksgiving mood this year, full of nostalgia over Thanksgivings and Thanksgiving menus of the past. That's a good thing. I've always hated it when Thanksgiving gets swallowed up in premature Christmas madness.There have been some very memorable - or shall I say notorious - Thanksgivings in my life.
I went to college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, a six-hour drive from home. I had no car and had to always snag rides from semi-strangers going in my general direction - always a dicey proposal at best.
One Thanksgiving my roommate, who was from Williston, got a ride for us with another Williston native. The guy turned out to have a wreck of a car (I remember that the left rear door had to be tied shut with a rope.) Due to many stops and starts, it tooks us way more than six hours to get home. I had arranged for my parents to meet me at the bowling alley in Stanley, knowing that John Jones would not detour all the way to Larson for me.
By the time we finally arrived, the bowling alley was closed for the night. I later found out that my parents had been there, waited for hours and left again. They had no way to know what had happened to me. Remember, this was in the days before cell phones. I had to ride all the way to Williston and stay overnight with Joan, and my stepdad had to drive the 180 miles round trip to get me the next morning.
The first year Dan and I moved to Bismarck-Mandan, there was a terrible ice and snow storm the day before Thanksgiving. We hemmed and hawed, but finally decided we just couldn't risk driving home. That was a bitter pill for me to swallow. I was pregnant and weepy. Living in a new town and knowing very few people didn't help either. Dan and I decided to make a full Thanksgiving dinner and headed for the grocery store that Wednesday evening. Did I mention that I had morning sickness that went on all day? I will never, ever forget the tremendous will power it took for me to make it through the store without barfing. I got to the car door before I whoopsed. After I sat down to dinner the next day, I suddenly had to excuse myself for a good half hour or more, for the same reason.
One Thanksgiving when Dan was hunting elk in Montana, pity was taken on Kristen and me and we were invited to not one but two Thanksgiving dinners, one in the early afternoon and one in late afternoon. Yes, we went to both, and I ate heartily at both, having just enough time to digest the first dinner before attacking the second. The next day I was terribly ill. I may have had the stomach flu, but I thought otherwise. In what I now realize was a terrible faux pas, I called both hostesses and asked them if anyone else got food poisoning from their dinners.
On yet another year when Dan was away hunting, my sister Glori cooked Thanksgiving dinner at her Fourth Street apartment. That's the year we both got very tipsy on white wine and I ended up breaking one of her Duncan Phyfe chairs (in my defense, it was old and very brittle). Thank goodness I lived only a few blocks away.
Was I seriously upset with Dan for missing all those family Thanksgivings in a row? Ya think? One year, he and his hunting buddies had planned to be away for Thanksgiving but ended their hunt early. He phoned me with the news that they were on their way home, and I found myself yet again traipsing through the grocery aisles on a pre-Thanksgiving night. Fortunately, I wasn't sick that time. I had to buy a fresh turkey as there was no time to thaw out a frozen one. I remember that my bird dripped turkey juices the entire way through the store. I was afraid mop-wielding grocery police were going to get after me. As I pulled into the driveway with my very fresh turkey and other groceries, Dan arrived home!
I was thrilled to have him home that year. Another year, not so much. That was The Year Dan Cooked The Turkey Upside Down. He had called me into the kitchen about halfway through the roasting, saying the turkey "looked funny". It did look very funny. I declared, "That's not a turkey. You bought some other kind of poultry. Go to the store and buy a turkey now!" He reminded me that the stores are all closed on Thanksgiving Day. We ultimately figured out that it was a turkey, just upside down. A friend who was dining with us and I got into a laughing fit over it and Kristen thought we all had gone completely nuts.
I am totally going to gloss over the year we had a disgusting wild turkey for Thanksgiving, so proudly bagged by Dan. I am going to pretend it never happened.
This year I hope we have a quiet, uneventful Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, my sister has to work. I've invited her two kids, but since they're 19 and 22, they may find better places to go.
Dan bought a 19 pound turkey, so we'll have lots of leftovers, regardless.