By: Carol Rood
Thanksgiving has been a holiday in the United States since President Abraham Lincoln declared the 4th Thursday to be a national day of thanks in 1863. That was 148 years ago. When I was in elementary school we learned about the “first Thanksgiving” with the Pilgrims and the Indians. I learned how the Indians (I went to school in the late 70’s and early 80’s, so we didn’t have the PC term Native American back then. They were Indians.) helped the Pilgrims learn to plant crops and they celebrated the harvest with their Indian friends and shared the bounty. What I couldn’t wrap my head around was how they forgot how to plant crops while they were on the boat crossing the ocean. I mean, they knew how to plant crops in England didn’t they? They weren’t starving there, so why didn’t they know how to plant here in America?
Of course as I got older I learned how the soil and climate were different enough that the settlers needed to learn how to plant different crops than what they were used to in England and how the Native Americans helped them with that. I may have been taught that in third grade, but I just don’t remember those small details anymore….sigh…
So, Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln (one of my favorite presidents), and we have been celebrating it since then. Many families have Thanksgiving traditions. Foods that they MUST have on the table. Or things they do together. Maybe the turkey has to be cooked the way grandma cooked it, or maybe there MUST be a football game played by the family outside after the meal, or maybe the meal just isn’t complete without a special dessert. To be honest, I don’t remember any special traditions in my family. There may have been some, but as my mother so gently told me recently, “Carol, I think you get it wrong a lot.” That was a sweet way to say, “WTF???” That just isn’t something my mother would say, and “geez, your memory sucks” isn’t her style either. Now don’t get me wrong, she is definitely one to call a spade a spade, but she usually does it with a certain finesse and tact.
I spoke with my mother on the phone today, and it didn’t occur to me to ask her if we had any special traditions when I was a kid. But truly, none jump to mind. I do have some traditions with my family now, but most of those revolve around Christmas, so you will get to read about them at a later date. For Thanksgiving, to be honest, in the past 6 years or so, my kids have usually gone to their dad’s house for Thanksgiving, so Bluebell and I have used that as an excuse to have a weekend away. Last year was the first year my kids did not visit their father, and we had Thanksgiving dinner with some of my closest friends. None of us has family in the area, so we decided it would be fun to make our own “family holiday”. We had a wonderful time and we have decided to do that again this year.
However, I have had my share of Thanksgiving calamities. I know everyone has a story they can tell about the dog eating the bird, or the turkey being so hard and dry it couldn’t be sliced, or the dinner not tasting good etc. What I would like from you all, is to outdo each other with your Thanksgiving calamity stories. I would love for each reader to write a comment and tell about a particularly funny, or strange, or “uh oh” story.
I will get you started with mine. It is really the only one I can think of, but it is a doozy. One year my ex-husband J decided he wanted to smoke the turkey. We lived in Pensacola at that time, and I was pregnant with Jacob, so it must have been November 1998. Well, we did not have a smoker, so we borrowed one from some friends. It was a brand new one, and our friend told J how to use it and gave him the instruction booklet to read. We decided we wanted to use Jack Daniels and apple chips to give the turkey a yummy taste. J followed the instructions exactly, and the turkey was almost finished, and he was getting ready to baste it. The way a smoker is set up, the juice pan sits above the coals, so the juices and smoke mix to flavor the bird even more. Well, J went to baste the bird and spilled the pan of juices. All of a sudden as the oils in the juice pan hit the coals, flames shot up at least 7-8 feet in the air. As a matter of fact the flames were high enough for our next door neighbor to see them over the 6 foot fence separating our yard. Because it was a grease fire we couldn’t put out the flames with the hose and I ran inside to look for a fire extinguisher.
I found the extinguisher and ran back outside and handed it to J who quickly put out the flames. Of course a turkey that is burned and then covered with carbon dioxide from the fire extinguisher did not make for an appetizing meal, so there was no turkey that year. I think we enjoyed all the carbohydrate-laden sides with no protein. Not to mention that the fire was so hot in the smoker that it burned the paint off the smoker and we had to buy a new one for our friends. That was a scary and expensive turkey dinner.
That is my Thanksgiving calamity story. Bad news we had no turkey, good news was we didn’t burn down the house. I guess you have to take the bad with the good.
So we want to hear your Thanksgiving story. What tradition MUST you do every year, or what food must you eat, or did you experience a Thanksgiving calamity also? Inquiring minds want to know…..