“There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”

Last night the wind blew then blew some more and whistled and shook the house. It was tremendous.

Today is bone-chillingly cold. Patches of blue dot the sky. The wind is not as strong as last night but it is still whipping the bare branches of the pines and oaks. The sun shines weakly for a while then disappears and leaves behind a bleakness, a wintry feel to the day. Outside is not at all inviting.

I have always believed Thanksgiving is more about family than any other holiday. I remember the Thanksgivings of my childhood and being home together the whole day biding our time until dinner. My mother always woke up in the wee hours of the morning to stuff the turkey then put it into the oven. The huge oval turkey pan was blue with small white dots. Sometimes the turkey was so big it just fit into the pan. I can still see my mother straining to pull the shelf out of the oven so she could baste the turkey. She always took a taste of the hard outside crust of the stuffing before she’d push the turkey back into the oven. Her stuffing tasted of sage and Bell’s Seasoning. It is still my favorite stuffing of them all. The windows were always steamed from the heat so my mother would open the back door to cool the small kitchen. While she worked on dinner, we sat in front of the TV and watched the Macy’s parade. She always put out the same snacks for the parade. There was a bowl of nuts to crack and eat, M&M’s and tangerines. I always like the tangerines because they were so easy to peel. The nuts were fun to crack.

When we were young, the menu didn’t vary much. Mashed potatoes were one of the highlights. I remember the big glob of butter my mother would put on top and how it would melt down the sides of the pile of potatoes. I always made a well in my potatoes where I’d put the gravy. I am still a huge fan of mashed potatoes. Creamed onions were on the menu because they were one of my father’s favorites. Peas were mine. The green beans came from a can because all our vegetables did. My father cut the meat with great ceremony and we all watched. He cut plenty of white meat because it was our favorite, but not my father’s. He was a leg man.

Dessert was always the same. My mother made an apple pie, a blueberry pie and a lemon meringue pie, my personal favorite. Pumpkin  pie was added when we were older.

Leftovers seemed to last forever.

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12 Comments on ““There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.””

  1. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Our mothers did the same stuffing. To this day the plain old bread stuffing made with Bells Seasoning is the stuffing of choice for my brothers and me. My sisters-in-law grew up with fancy meat stuffings so that is what they cooked but my brothers always wanted my mother to make some of her stuffing to bring to them.

    The veggies were of the mashed group. Rutabagas (we called them turnips) butternut squash, potatoes. All mashed. Peas from a can, or peas and onions from a jar. One time we had green bean casserole. The one with the canned fried onions on top. Yum.

    We would all sneak pieces of the stuffing crust off the turkey. It’s the best part.

    My mother used to cook the turkey all night in a slow oven. My bedroom was over the kitchen. Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings my floor was warm on my bare feet because the kitchen stove had been working all night.
    And I awoke with a rumbling hungry tummy because I’d been sniffing turkey in my sleep. 🙂

    It’s colder than midnight on Pluto up here. It was 28º at 2AM and that’s the highest it’s gotten all day. Plus there is a wind chill that drops it down into the single digits.
    But it’s sunny!

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      We are having the same weather. It is 27˚ right now. Gracie runs out and runs back in about 2 minutes later. Her ears are freezing when she comes inside. My trash is in the car, and even on warmer days the dump is like Siberia with the wind blowing across. I may have to go anyway as the dump is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

      I did make sausage and apple dressing a few times but always stuffed the turkey with my Bell’s stuffing. My sister can’t get it in Colorado so we have to send it to her.

      I don’t understand why my mother always put the turkey in so early. Maybe, like your mother, she used a slow oven. I just know it never disappointed.

      I didn’t like turnip until I got much older, and I still love green bean casserole but with fresh beans. I once did my own onions for it, and they were delicious.

      Have a wonderful day too!! Stay warm and cozy!

  2. Bob Says:

    Today the temperature is just above freezing, about 36 degrees F, which is a good thing because it just a winter mix of sleet and rain. Cold, windy and wet. 🙁

    Our Thanksgiving was very similar to yours. I think Norman Rockwell set the standard on the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post”. I agree that the holiday is all about family. When I was in college, living in Dallas, my father would always take a vacation to Acapulco Mexico and leave me alone for Thanksgiving. I usually could find a friend who would invite me for dinner with their family. Sometimes, I just ate alone at a cafeteria. You could spell my father’s first name, “Shmuck”.

    One year I was invited to a Thanksgiving feast by a woman I was dating. The dinner was a huge gathering of her gay male friends and a two heterosexual couples. The hosts put on the dog and it was a fabulous spread. They served it buffet style because so many people attended. When everything was ready, the host came out to the living room and said, “Dinner’s ready, ladies first.” All the gay men stood up and headed for the buffet table. My date and I along with the other male female couple sat there with our mouths open.

    Like your father I am a leg man. I don’t like the white meat because no matter who makes the bird nor by what method I find the breast meat is dry. One year I am going to have to try a deep fried Turkey. Of course God never made a wild Turkey like the ones we buy in the grocery store. They are breed to have DDDD size breasts and almost no legs. They don’t need legs because thousands of them spend their entire lives not moving at all in one huge barn eating until they are ready for the processor.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      I’m happy we don’t have the sleet and rain. The cold is quite enough. Sorry your day is so bad! Maybe your lovely weather will be back.

      I think Norman Rockwell just illustrated the American Thanksgiving. I know my mother’s family had much the same one as she prepared for us. I don’t know about my dad’s as his mother wasn’t a very good cook.

      Back in those days ladies wasn’t used as frequently for gay men. I never think of it as an insult. I don’t think gay men do either. I hear it a lot now, even on TV.

      You’re right white meat often being dry. I am not particular and will eat white and dark. Usually the legs end up being stripped for turkey salad. That was always a progression: the big dinner, leftovers, turkey salad and finally turkey soup. I never really minded. I like turkey.

      You’ll have to be careful with the deep fried turkey as many people have burned themselves. They put the turkey in too fast and the oil spills.

      I’m hoping your day gets nicer and warmer!

      • Bob Says:

        I think the host meant for the two woman in the group to go first but all the gay men took it to mean let’s eat now.

        I would never will attempt to cook my own deep fried turkey, I would buy one and take it to Popeye’s fried chicken restaurant where for a fee they will deep fry it for you.

        No leftovers this year, we are planning to eat at the neighborhood all you can eat Chinese buffet. They are putting on Turkey and dressing along with the asian goodies. Reasonable, no cooking, no dishes to clean up and chocolate ice cream afterwards for desert at home while watching football. What could be better?

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        I knew what the host meant, but sometimes gay guys will jokingly refer to themselves as ladies which is why they got up.

        I am amazed that the Chinese buffet is serving turkey. That is such a smart idea. I got to say though that I like the leftovers-love a turkey panini.

        There aren’t any Popeye’s near us which is too bad now that I know about them frying.

  3. olof1 Says:

    We did actually have turkey in my family, but at Christmas eve. My mother has always been a bit of a fan of Brittain so when she won a turkey at a bingo game we sort of had that tradituion for some years on christmas eve. The thing was that the turkey was way to big for our oven so she had to cut it in to pieces 🙂 Can’t remember any stuffing though.

    One year she won a huge goose and had the same problem with its size 🙂 Goose never became any tradition though 🙂

    Sunny and cold all day here, it would have been nice if it wasn’t for the weak but oh so cold wind.

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      We used to have turkey on Christmas Day when I was young. When I was older, we had beef or ham or a crown roost of pork, never turkey anymore.

      Stuffing is a huge part of having turkey. I can’t imagine not having it though my sister would disagree. She doesn’t like it and she doesn’t make gravy either. Unimaginable!

      I had goose one time when friends came over before Christmas of dinner. I did a Charles Dickens sort of meal. It was good.

      I just went out and filled a bird feeder. I felt bad because there are so many birds. I was freezing. Gracie didn’t even come!

      Have a great evening.

  4. Jay Bird Says:

    Turkey on Thanksgiving and Christmas growing up. The only times we had it! All the customary trimmings (yes, Caryn, turnips too) My favorite was the turkey giblet gravy, though my mother was oddly stingy about gravy. “We’re not having stew, ya know!” Since leaving home some five decades ago, I have always ladled on lots of gravy! Stuffing is essential, though made on the stovetop these days (with sausage added). Bell’s seasoning is required, but not available everywhere in the country. Bob Evans makes great mashed sweet potatoes. Dinner at a friend’s house is best, if they pack you some leftovers!

    • katry Says:

      Jay Bird,
      We had turkey on Christmas too when I was a kid. I never gave it a thought, but we didn’t have it any other time either. I love gravy and remember open turkey sandwiches with lots of gravy as leftovers.

      I still stuff the bird with Bell’s seasoned stuffing. We always have to send a box to my sister in Colorado as it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving for her without Bell’s. I have made a delicious apple and sausage dressing which my mother even loved and asked for a couple of times after I became the Thanksgiving house.

      Now I go to friend’s every year for dinner but I always cook a turkey breast for myself just to have leftovers!

      • Jay Bird Says:

        I always thought Bell’s seasoning was ubiquitous, but not so. I’ve sent the little boxes to my daughter in Chicago and my ex in St. Louis. I had oyster dressing once when I lived in Virginia, and it was very good. Still prefer sausage dressing, though sausage/ apple sounds yummy!

      • katry Says:

        Jay Bird,
        I also have to send marshmallow Fluff to Colorado. My sister’s kids had it when they came east when they were little, and now their kids love it. I send it a couple of times a year.


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