Throwback and Thankful Thursday: What About Thanksgiving Am I Grateful For?

Welcome aboard, train wreck.

Holy mother of where is the year going!!!! It’s Thanksgiving?! When did this happen? How did this happen? It was just Halloween and now I have a turkey in my oven and Santa breathing down my neck. Are you kidding me? Make it stop! It’s going too fast!

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Whew! OK, I’m good now. Deep breaths. Where’s the wine? This year is coming to a close fast and next month is Christmas. That means this little project of blogging every day for one hundred days is almost at an end. But before we close out, I get to talk about all the things I love about Thanksgiving.

First, it is a holiday where we celebrate food. Yes, I know. Indians and Pilgrims and yada yada yada. Right. We all know we’re there for the turkey, the sweet potatoes, and the pie. Did I mention Mama didn’t get fat by not eating? Is it any surprise that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays? Why else would I wake up at the butt crack of dawn to shove my hands up the business end of a turkey, start the bread from scratch, scrub sweet potatoes, and get the pies ready to go into the oven after the turkey. Do not put the pies in with the turkey. It violates some rule of the space-time continuum and physics. Even Stephen Hawking hasn’t figured out why. Our government has top men working on it. Top men.

I am a turkey hound. I could eat a turkey a week for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, my husband can not stand turkey. It all stems from his job working on a turkey farm. He said after working there he could not stand the smell of the birds, living or dead, or basted to a glorious golden brown. Tragic, I know.

You want to know the definition of love? My husband, who can not look at, smell, or eat a turkey, deep fries a turkey for me every year. It all started when he learned I had never had deep fried turkey. To woo and impress me, he made me a turkey. This man loves me so much he stands outside in all sorts of crazy Jomo Fall weather and puts a turkey in hot oil all for me. He fries that delicious little sucker until the skin is crisp and the inside is no longer pink, but still juicy. Dear Goddess, I am starving right now, thinking about it. He will never eat it; he won’t even taste it. That’s love. And don’t tell him, but I loved him before the turkey. The turkey is just the whipped cream and cherry on top of the awesome cake he is (Beefcake!). For him, I am grateful.

While we’re on the subject, can we talk about pie? Dear gracious Goddess, how amazing is pie? If you’re a fan of the show Supernatural, then you get it. I may or may not have set a Dean Winchester trap involving a pie. There are no pictures, so I’m safe.

Pie is perfection. It is. Is there anything prettier than a pie? The perfectly browned, crimped edges of the crust. The smell wafting from the oven as it bakes. The satisfying crunch of breaking the crust and slicing those flawless triangles of deliciousness.

Pie can only get better when you add one thing: Cool Whip. I’m pretty sure there’s cocaine in those containers of fluffy, white sweetness. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only times that it’s allowed in the house. Otherwise, people will need to cut me out of my bedroom and place me in a piano shipping container for my funeral. I am grateful for self-control.

Every day care I have worked in has always done a Thanksgiving lunch on Thanksgiving Eve. Somehow, I got on mashed potato duty each time. Twenty years of daycare and I always wind up making the mashed potatoes. During smashing boiled cubes of Idaho’s finest into a fine texture, my friend Becky was waxing poetic about the cranberry sauce in the can.

“Why are there lines on it?” she asked as she sliced it up.

“Where are you cutting it right now?” Susan, the head cook, asked.

“On the lines.”

“That’s why they’re there.”

“For reals?”

I looked at Susan and we both had to stifle the laughter trying to escape. Becky was an intelligent young woman. There couldn’t be any way possible. She believed that. Then again, she believed that a stop sign with white edges was a “Stoptional” and it did not require you to make a full and complete stop at those. I may have been responsible for that.

“Well, then what are the two real fat pieces on the ends for?”

I couldn’t resist. “Don’t you have that one person in your family that loves cranberry sauce and always eats a little too much? That’s who those ends are for.”

“Oh, my God! They did it for Aunt Mary. Ocean Spray thinks of everything.”

Thank the Goddess for those mashed potatoes covering up the sound of me holding back laughter.

One thing I’ve never been a real fan of is stuffing. That may have something to do with the fact that my father never seemed to get it right. It was either the texture, consistency, and taste of a used dish sponge or so dry it sucked all moisture from your body, leaving you a dry, hollow husk. There was no happy medium. He tried, Goddess bless him, he tried. And for him, I am grateful.

Stuffing, not so much, though. Or as they call it here in Jomo, dressing. I have lived in Southwest Missouri for nineteen years. I have had the pleasure of having Thanksgiving dinner with two different sets of families. Both used the term dressing. And it is only this year that I earned the difference between stuffing and dressing. It’s the same thing, just different locations. Stuffing is in the bird. Dressing is on your plate. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the only difference. I have gone this whole time thinking people were putting ranch or thousand Island salad dressing on their turkey. I never saw it happen, but that’s what was going through my head. It wouldn’t be that unusual since people around here treat ranch dressing like it’s an entire food group. My girls refuse to eat pizza without it. The Bunny takes after her Aunt Yoda Soda (my sister Jodi) and puts ranch dressing on her spaghetti noodles. Tragic, I know. I can hear my grandmother weeping from the great beyond.

All this food results in another wonderful Thanksgiving miracle: leftovers. It’s like Hanukkah but it’s eight crazy days of turkey. You never know what you’re going to get, but you know it’s going to be amazing because turkey is involved. Mashed potato pancakes are my favorite non turkey leftover dish. A little mashed potatoes, a little flour, an egg, mix and fry and boom baby. Outstanding. Butter, salt, applesauce. To die for. I am grateful to my mother for teaching me how to make those. A lesson, though. Don’t try to make them in a waffle iron. It doesn’t work, and it’s way more cleaning than necessary. Just throw the waffle iron out.

If you’re a nineties brat like me, you’ll remember the show “Friends.” This show introduced Friendsgiving. This is an idea that has gotten me through the last nineteen years being away from my family during the holiday season. Friends are the family we chose for ourselves. They’re the brothers and sisters you get to meet later in life because if you were blood and in the same house, you would kill each other. But you can’t live without them. Over the years, I’ve developed friendships that are more than friends. We are family. We love, laugh, fight, and cry. We plot our exes’ deaths and then remind each other that we don’t look good in prison orange, so we just buy each other a beer and call it even. Friendsgiving is a do over for when your blood relatives drive you bat shit crazy but you have to be nice because you’ve been eyeing the silver candlesticks on the formal dining room table for years and you’ll be damned if your cousin with the perfect teeth gets them. I’m truly grateful to my friends. And here’s to you, “Friends”, for giving us this awesome mulligan of a holiday.

Family is a big component to all this. They are the reason I am grateful most times of most days. The other times I think about running away and joining the Renaissance Faire again.

“Dear Family, I love you, but if I’m going to juggle responsibilities, I should get paid for it. If I’m going to surround myself with clowns, I may as well be the court jester. I’ll be living here with my seeing eye dragon. Sincerely, Mom AKA Witch Hazel.”

I love my family. I do. They’re an endless source of material for me to write about. They cause my laughter, my tears, my inspiration, my motivation, my frustration, and the white stripes running through my hair that will no longer hold dye of any color. My family is my past, present, and future. They are my legacy in the making.

We hold many conversations at the Thanksgiving table. It’s where we reminisce and catch up. Plans are made and some secrets revealed. I remember one Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house in Philly. I may have been about ten years old. Everyone was there. We were passing the food, laughing and talking. My Uncle Sean became the focus of attention.

“Dad, did you make a ham? I smell ham,” he asked, sniffing like a hound dog.

“No, no ham. Just the turkey, the ziti, the ravioli, the green bean casserole, the stuffing, the sweet potatoes, the mashed potatoes, the gravy, the macaroni and cheese, and the rolls, but no ham, “ my grandfather answered.

My uncle had sweat running into his eyes and was using the napkin to mop his forehead down. “Ma, it’s hot in here. Can we open a window?”

“I’m fine, aren’t you fine, Marlys?”

“I’m perfectly fine. What about you, Keith?”

“I’m good. Leslie, are you OK?”

“I’m right as rain here. How about you, Brian?”

“I’m doing fan damn tastic but that’s because my face isn’t sitting in a candle flame like him.”

That’s right. Leave it to my dad to be the one to point out the elephant in the room. Through the course of passing the dishes and bowls around, the candlesticks had shifted. One found its way under my uncle’s chin. The ham he smelled was himself. He sustained no injuries. Just a weird pork smell lingering for the rest of the night.

So, yeah, I’m a fan of Thanksgiving. The food, friends, and family that make this life worth something. They’re the reason I have so much to be thankful for. For them, I am grateful. Ooh! Time to Pinterest some new leftover turkey recipes. For leftover turkey and Pinterest, I am grateful.

I’d like to know what you’re grateful for. Let me know in the comments. Again, if you like what I post, please like, comment, share, and subscribe. Please consider donating to help keep this going. $1 and I’ll ask you what your favorite book is so we can talk about it. $5 and I’ll write a review of a book you suggest. $10 and I’ll write a blog suggested by you. That’s all I’ve got for today, train wrecks. All aboard.

Listen, here’s the thing. I’m getting to the age where tying shoes is kind of hard. And then I saw these. Slip on shoes that don’t make me look like a Grandma is where it’s at for me. Remember, I earn a small commission when you click and/or buy with my links. But that comes at no extra cost to you.

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