When I hear the word THANKSGIVING the image of Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting immediately flashes through my head… Smiling family members gathered around the dinner table as the turkey, cooked to perfection is brought to the table.
This scene is repeated time and time again in households all throughout the United States. I’d love to say this scene was repeated year after year at my home… but I can’t. I have had some untraditional, yet wonderful Thanksgivings throughout time… and this year is no exception.
With my family scattered to the far ends of the US and Canada… I bailed on the last remaining NJ child and headed to Florida for a vacation. Through the generosity of family I am living the life of luxury in a beautiful home in the sunny south… by myself.
Over the years Thanksgiving dinners have evolved from stiff, uncomfortable affairs at my grandparent’s (with my brother shooting peas under the table at my legs), to large informal dinners hosting out-of-town friends at our home.
One year, after stuffing ourselves with turkey, my husband jumped up from the table and yelled, “Hurry! Hurry! Get in the car!” Thinking the house was on fire we all left the dirty dishes and ran outside. That was the year we began the tradition of going to the movies… Home Alone was starting in just a few minutes. As time moved on, each of my children took their turn working at the local theater (Yea, FREE movies!) and so I have been known to provide a full Thanksgiving spread for movie theater workers in their break room.
There are so many memories… like the year the dog pulled the turkey off the kitchen counter and had his own feast, and the year I was hosted by a family who also hosted Phineas and Ferb (Disney Characters) who were performing in NYC. One year we all were crazy and decided to go into New York and see the parade LIVE. Or the time my son-in-law wanted to use his new whipped cream maker and it shot all over!!!
Although my turkey and stuffing are picture perfect and tasty… I am known for my pies… Apple, Pumpkin, the occasional Pecan, and… drum roll please… ‘The Chocolate Cream Pie Mistake’. This last pie was developed totally in a fit of panic. My brother specifically requested a Chocolate Cream Pie for dessert… so I bought the ingredients and began making it the night before… late… after the stores closed. Much to my dismay, I made a deep dish pie crust, but only had enough filling for a standard pie crust. The pie looked sad. In a flash of genius I opened the cupboard doors and surveyed what I had on hand… and began dumping things into the pudding filling. Suffice it to say the main addition was a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, along with some flavorings, more cream and such. Crossing my fingers I placed the doctored pie in the refrigerator over night to chill… and figured I’d fill in the remaining gap with whipped cream when it came time to serve it. WOW! What a surprise! The pie was the hit of the evening… not to be upstaged by the turkey of course.
Ahhh…. Memories. Well… this year will certainly go down into my book as something to remember. I believe this will be the very first Thanksgiving I am sharing it with total strangers instead of family or friends.
I had many options of where to eat turkey today. Many local restaurants are serving grand dinners by reservation, but that didn’t interest me. The place I am staying is also hosting dinner, both formal and informal. I gave serious consideration of this option, knowing I am a friendly person and would easily be able to strike up a conversation with my table mates and have a delightful day. But no… I do that on a regular basis, every time I eat out. Hmmm… I could always volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Nah.
THIS YEAR… you will find me eating turkey and breaking bread with an unusual group of people at the Holiday Inn in Fort Myers, FL. Who are they???? I have been invited to join the World Class Sandcastle Sculptors who are here competing for the title. Me! I don’t speak all their languages, but with the help of translators I’m sure we will all get along. Anyway… isn’t Turkey a universal language?
I wish you ALL a Happy Thanksgiving… no matter where you are… or who you are with! After all… Thanksgiving is with you all the time, it’s in your heart!
UPDATE! The weather is way too nice! After visiting the sculptors I decided to head to the beach and bask. Speak about basting the turkey! I have a reserved seat at the movies this evening, keeping THAT tradition alive.