Sunday, November 22, 2009


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.

Fast forward to another year and Dan is gone yet again. My sister and I were feeling lazy so we, our Dad and our kids went to a restaurant buffet. I hope to never have to do that again. Easter buffets are fine, but for some reason Thanksgiving buffets feel sad, pathetic and lonely to me. Thanksgiving is about family and HOME. During yet ANOTHER Thanksgiving hunting trip, Kristen and I went to Perkins for our holiday dinner. I think Kristen had a hamburger or chicken strips. As awful as my "fake" mashed potatoes, yellow gravy and dry turkey were, I should have followed her lead.

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.

Because we've had so many dogs, I'm  surprised that this is not one of our Thanksgiving stories:

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.


ADDED LATER: I totally forgot that one year we discovered - after we cooked the turkey - that we had forgotten to take the neck/giblet bag out of the cavity. We're not the only ones to have done that, or cook a turkey upside down for that matter. At least I have never stuffed a turkey with unpopped popcorn.  I discovered these and a whole lot more Thanksgivings gaffes in this link called "What was your worst Thanksgiving disaster?"


Rowan said...

Sounds as though you've had some interesting Thanksgiving holidays over the years:) Hope this is a really good one for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumn Leaves said...

Julie, Thanksgiving has always been my most favorite of holidays! The aromas, the food, the family...Sigh...Of course, there are the memories of learning about the Pilgrims and their harvest feast, Squanto and his tribe working alongside and teaching the Pilgrims how to cultivate in this new land. I saw a special last night on the "first" Thanksgiving and it was very interesting indeed. To celebrate bounty, even in times less bountiful, is the time to take a moment and reflect on God's goodness in giving us friends and family, or simply for giving us people who care. It starts off the Christmas anticipation and excitement that I remember as a little kid and still have to this very day. What a lovely post, dripping turkey juices and all!

aspiritofsimplicity said...

Well I hope your thanksgiving this year very happy. As I get older I am appreciating Thanksgiving more and more.

mxtodis123 said...

My most memorable was when hubbie decided that we should have a duck for Thanksgiving instead of a turkey. Now, I'd never cooked a duck and had no idea how much smoke there would be. So here I was running through the house, opening doors, and windows. Smoke was gushing out like there was a fire. LOL!!! And then, I didn't even like it.

Sheila said...

This gave me a much needed chuckle Julie!
We've never really made much of Thanksgiving as it was not celebrated in our home countries.
But with having children born here, they celebrate and we often go to them.
I hope this year will be memorable for you too.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Our most memorable thanksgiving was when our sone was 6 months old (he is 41 now) and Don's whole family was coming to our apartment (we lived in the upstairs of a very big farmhouse) I cooked for days - baked 7 pies and had the kids scrubbed and ready when the relatives started arriving. As we sat down to dinner the blizzard of the century hit (yay for Wisconsin weather) and everyone ate in a hurry and began to leave for home. It took those who lived 20 minutes away, 3 1/2 hours to get home - and the ones that lived 90 miles away were almost 6 hours on the road. Just as they left our power went out - so we bundled the babies into bed, climbed in bed and ate pie - we had so many!!!!

Hope your dinner is fun and stress free this year.

gma said...

One year our entire turkey slipped off the platter onto the floor.
Leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving. After all that cooking we can relax and let others help themselves. Hope you have a beautiful one this year.

Annie Jeffries said...

I think my family must be very boring and lacking in imagination. I have absolutely NOTHING that can compare.

What a series of stories. Dress them up a little and you could have a Thanksgiving special on HBO Family.

Sid Brechin said...

Had to give my head a shake thinking wasn't Thanksgiving last month. Then Remembered the States is this month as you have a longer growing season.

Love the idea of stuffing the turkey with prozac. We have a family joke at one falls for every year. Someone will say to one of the others that they are surprised to see them.

When asked why will answer "Most Turkeys don't survive thanksgiving"

WARNING; When I tried it on my Mom this turkey almost didn't survive thanksgiving

Leanne said...

happy thanksgiving julie! you have had some fun in the past havent you? :-) great cartoons!

Leanne x

Shopgirl said...

I giggled all the way through your memorable Thanksgiving, this was so much fun....and a little sad.
Now I find myself wanting to share some of ours. We have a wild Turkey story too.
I always think that the things that do not go so well are the holidays we remember the most. Thank you for making me think of Turkey's past.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Love, Mary

Sid Brechin said...

Our Thanksgiving was last month but the week before last years my brother phoned with a story had him in stitches.

He owns a 50 acre tree farm. Guess it's like other crops just takes 30 years a crop. Anyway he was almost at the road on his tractor when he noticed to men in issue camoflage. Can't get it surplus have to be serving. As he headed over they noticed him and started to say sorry sir we didn't notice it posted. He said don't call me sir to which they gave an almost universal answer " I earned my rank " George was a Sgt.

Anyway they had just got back from Afganistan the week before and were going to surprised their wives with wild turkey. George said good Idea lots in the area and as one of the two brothers was in the back plucking the "turkey" he took a look and blurted out. Those aren't turkeys. Those are Turkey vultures.

The brother plucking turned red the other fell down and took minutes to stop laughing. Saying to his brother as he got up even your great grandkids will end up hearing this one.

George took them up to his place. Explained how to tell them apart. Wrote them both letters of permission so they could always hunt on his property and made sure they found real turkeys to take home for dinner.

Shopgirl said...

I posted a little Turkey story, I shared that you had given me the idea. So if you get a minute, you might like to read it.
Tomorrow I will be in a Turkey coma...Love, Mary