Where’s the Turkey?


In thinking about what to write for this Thanksgiving Day post, I thought maybe I’d share a memory of Thanksgiving from when I was a kid. But there’s a problem-I have absolutely no memory of celebrating this day when I was a child. It puzzles and surprises me. I’m sure that turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce was had by my family, like every other family in the U.S. on this day. But in trying to come up with the details, of bringing forth a specific memory, or even just a mixed up bunch of memories, heck, even a feeling about this particular day in my history, there’s nothing there. Nothing.

Halloween is clear in my brain, with the plastic face masks that got damp and stinky from my breath, and wandering around the neighborhood with the next door neighbors for the coveted candy. Christmas, of course, with the spindly tree covered in tinsel, and the presents torn open with abandon. Valentine’s Day, signing the Scooby-Doo or Barbie Valentine’s Day cards for friends at school, the pink cupcakes my mom made for the class. Even Easter, though we never went to church and were not religious in the least, even this day is lodged in my memory with the baskets of candy and plastic green grass, the colored eggs hidden around the house and which I’d often eat once they cracked days later (ugh), the pretty pastel dresses my grandmother bought my sister and me, with the fancy hats and gloves and little purses.

They’re all there, all the holidays that marked off the seasons, that spun the wheel of the year round and round. But not this one.

So I asked my mother the other day, “Mom, we celebrated Thanksgiving when I was a kid, didn’t we?”

Yes, she made sure we had a turkey and some fixings. But Dad was rarely there, opting to go to his brother’s house to drink. My brothers were teenagers by then, and jetted from the house as soon as possible. So I think people just came and went, wolfing down a plate before going somewhere else. No one watched football in the house or cared about it. So yeah, there was food, but no grand traditions, and nothing memorable happened. Norman Rockwell it wasn’t.

I suppose that explains why I never made a big deal out of Thanksgiving most of my life. I appreciate what it’s all about, and I’m certainly thankful for what I’ve been blessed with. But my husband and I prefer a quiet day of cooking food, watching the Macy’s parade on TV with Lilly, and the football games he watches in the afternoon. If the weather is decent, I’ll go for a solitary walk. Mom will be over our house this year (her companion died last summer). I’ll call dad and check in on him, bring him a piece of chocolate cream pie.

So I’m okay with those Thanksgiving non-memories; I can live without them.

What I can’t live without is chocolate cream pie.


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