Three Very Unusual, But Memorable Thanksgivings

Thanksgiving is usually one of those holidays that pass in a blur of turkey and football, but three – all during particularly different points in my life – stand out for me.

TurkeyI’ll start with the most recent first. 

Thanksgiving and Milk of Magnesia
We hadn’t been in our current house but a couple of years.  My sister was still married to a sailor and was halfway across the country with her family.  We hadn’t had children yet so it was just my mom, husband and I.  We decided to invite another couple whose extended family was all out of town.  We had only recently met this couple, but thought hey that’s what Thanksgiving is for – bringing people together.

So my mom arrives with this stray beagle that she had recently found.  The poor little thing was skin and bones and was recovering from a broken hip where it had obviously been hit by a car.  But Snoopy fit it with my mom’s other dog and my dogs with no trouble.

Dinner preparations were uneventful.  When the other couple arrived, we put the dogs in the garage.  I can’t remember why we just didn’t put them outside – it must’ve been too cold.

My husband keeps a pretty neat garage.  But remember we didn’t have kids and our dogs spend almost no time in the garage so it wasn’t an example of the world’s safest garage.

Needless to say, we sit down to a delightful meal.  But somewhere between dinner and dessert, I go to the garage for something and discover a can of gas treatment with teeth marks on it leaking in the dog bed Snoopy was in.

Alarmed, we immediately call an animal hospital that tells us that for $65 we can bring the dog in and they’ll tell us if he’s ingested any of it.  Then for even more money they will pump his stomach for us or give him  milk of magnesia.

Now it’s Thanksgiving, that’s an awful lot of money and we aren’t even sure that Snoopy has indeed drank this stuff.

So next we have this comical scene where we pry open each of four dogs’ mouths to see if we can smell gas treatment on their breath. 

We – yes, my husband, my mother and I each took a turn smelling the dog’s breath – decide that we can only faintly smell it on Snoopy’s breath, probably just where he got on his teeth from chewing on the container.

Still, we want to make sure that this dog my mom has been nursing back to health, stays healthy.  So we decided to give the dog some milk of magnesia ourselves.

So we take the dog outside on the deck.  One of us holds the dog, the other pries his mouth open and the third pours in the milk of magnesia which then makes the dog look like he’s foaming at the mouth.

Let me assure you that describing the process is a lot easier than actually doing it.  When I look up from our task, I see our house guests — this other couple — pressed against the window of our back door laughing their asses off.

The dog survived and that friendship has flourished.  Today, the couple’s little boy is now getting into trouble with our twins and I have a feeling we’ll have more interesting Thanksgiving stories to tell on their part.

Thanksgiving and the Fire Alarm
In my senior year of college, before my husband and I became a couple we ran around with a group of six including ourselves.  For Thanksgiving, of course, we all went home to our families. 

But four members of the group worked for a home improvement store (think the Work Bench from Reaper) that gave its employees a turkey for Thanksgiving.  So when we all returned from the holiday, they all had these turkeys in their freezers.  Very unusual for college apartments, I know.

So we decided to make the best of it by having our own Thanksgiving feasts.  In turn, each person that had a turkey hosted the dinner and the rest of brought the trimmings.

I should mention that this group of six included four men and two women.  The three men who had turkeys went first and the single female who had a turkey went last.

Knowing my lack of talent in the kitchen, I was assigned to bring dessert – pumpkin pie.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well these meals turned out.  They resulted in delicious food, great conversation, lots of drinking (we were in college after all) and a good time by all.

By the time we got to the fourth turkey, these meals fell into place like clockwork.  That is, until the female’s turn to cook the turkey.  She had forgotten to take out the innards and she’d left the legs tied.  Then the fire alarm went off.

And this wasn’t any ordinary fire alarm.  It was like the ones you see in sitcoms that no matter what you do, they continue to go off. 

Needless to say we never did get to eat turkey that night.  And none of the guys let that poor girl forget it.  It was never completely cooked, but we enjoyed the trimmings nevertheless.

And to this day, my husband and I laugh about those four post-Thanksgiving Turkey meals.

My First Attempt at Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner
It’s no secret that I am domestically challenged.  Many people have tried to teach me to cook and all have left running from the kitchen.  In junior high school, I was kicked out of home ec class and transferred to a keyboarding class because “it was a better fit.”  I have set the kitchen on fire more times than I can count and have even burned boiling water.  It’s true; I’m hopeless when it comes to cooking

However, there is one year that I attempted – and I proudly proclaim succeeded – in cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner on my own.

When I was in high school my mom was a single mom that worked very hard to provide for her family.  One year her brother and his family were coming up for Thanksgiving, but they couldn’t get there until Friday.  My mother had to work on that Friday.  My sister was still in middle school.  So the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner fell on my shoulders.

I remember my mom going over the instructions with me the night before.  I remember calling her at work with questions.  But alas, I managed to cook the turkey and all the trimmings with no pending disaster.

When my uncle and his family arrive, the house was still standing.  Just before my mom arrived home, I proudly set the food out on the table.

Little did I know that while at work she had contracted a terrible bout of flu.  When she arrived home, she took one look at the beautiful table of food I had slaved on all day and ran to the bathroom to vomit!

We put her to bed and the rest of us enjoyed the meal.  But I’ll never forget that the first true meal that I succeed at cooking without burning anything down, my mom threw up at the sight of it.

To this day, I use this as an excuse for not cooking Thanksgiving.

I guess the moral of these stories is that no Thanksgiving is perfect.  Instead of striving for perfect, sit back and enjoy the food, friendship and fun!

Photo by Alan L. (License: Creative Commons Attribution)


One Response to Three Very Unusual, But Memorable Thanksgivings

  1. Diane says:

    That is pretty sad that all that work went into a perfect Thanksgiving dinner and your mother came home and got sick at the sight of the food. And the sight of your first Thanksgiving dinner was nothing short of perfect. And as a left over it was still very delicious. I know your mother was very proud of your accomplishement and still hasn’t forgiven herself for not showing her appreciation. I know without a shodow of a doubt she did appreciate it and as sick as she was would never have been able to set a table of food for the guest. A little bit late, but not short. Thank you for the lovely Thanksgiving Dinner you made. Your Mother

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