Thanksgiving Memories

11 24 14 Thanks catWhen I was little and the family had a special dinner where there would be more plates on the table, such as Thanksgiving, we had a wooden table topper (the top of a table without legs) that we laid over the kitchen table to create a larger “table.” Five people then squeezed around that larger table in an already small kitchen. I really don’t know how we all fit!

At least I can say that I spared my mother from cooking Christmas dinner one particular year, because she was in the hospital at Christmas, enjoying the hospital special holiday food! It’s all good! She had given birth to me on Christmas Eve, so she told my dad and brothers they were on their own!

My mother kept threatening to retire from cooking for the holidays and one year she finally did. It fell to my brother to host the Thanksgiving dinner. That dining room was so small, they had to have a separate table for the kids in the living room. But there was another problem that my mom told me about: the turkey was terrible! My sister-in-law was cooking her turkey too long and drying it out! So why didn’t mom tell her that and teach her how to do to correctly? I guess to this day everyone is suffering in silence! Don’t do this! If the turkey is not to your liking, speak up! Everyone will be glad you did!

A young woman I know, 30 years old, old enough to know how to cook, and definitely old enough to read, freaked out when she was asked to cook a turkey for a holiday party. “I don’t know how to cook a turkey!” Hello, the instructions are on the label! She bought already cooked meat at the store and took the easy way out. Does this mean she will never cook a turkey and host a Thanksgiving dinner?

I remember the first time that I ever cooked a Thanksgiving dinner. The challenge was to time it so that everything would finish being cooked at the same time. As long as you are good at math, that is not a problem. Just figure out what time dinner will be served, list the cooking times for all items and then work backwards to calculate when each item should be put on the stove. No problems! Of course now that I like to watch the Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving morning, I am chopping up my ingredients in the living room or during commercials!

One year I was watching the Macy’s Parade on my friend’s TV and eating plantains for breakfast! That was unique! I was in Nassau, Bahamas! Later that day, I ate a traditional turkey dinner at a restaurant in downtown Nassau. FYI, a Bahamian rum drink is not an appropriate side beverage! It was a bit too strong. Stick with the apple cider!

It’s nice that other cultures embrace the American turkey habit and provide tourists with “home-cooking.” Where is the most unusual place that you have ever eaten Thanksgiving dinner?

Another memorable Thanksgiving was when I had first moved across the country and did not know many people other than my co-workers. One of the young men hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the “orphans” as he called them, people who had no family in town and nowhere to go. We had several people from work there and  the spirit of friendship was wonderful. I have had other friends do the same over the years and this is the true meaning of the season.

Wherever you celebrate this week, make sure you take time to think of all the things you have to be thankful for. Did you wake up with a roof over your head? Be thankful. There are people sleeping on the streets. Did you get to eat turkey? Be thankful. Someone somewhere may go hungry on Thanksgiving. Be sure to tell your friends that you are thankful they are in your life. Thank the store cashier for their service when you run to the store for that item you forgot! Right now I’m very thankful for my mechanic, Ken, who is working on my naughty car today!

I always remember that my mom would tell me to say “Thank you” as a child. She was teaching me in the right way, and I always remember her teachings when I need to thank someone. It only takes a moment to say those words. Practice gratitude. It will actually make you feel good, as well as the person you are thanking.

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving weekend everyone!

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