With that thought, I decided to put together a list of my Top 10 Thanksgiving memories. I hope they make you smile, cringe and reflect back on your own memories of this day where we should all take the time to a) remember just how much we have to be thankful for and b) remember to take the bag of gizzards out of the turkey before cooking.
Top 10 Thanksgiving Memories
1. When I was a kid we always drove up to Bucks County, PA to spend Thanksgiving with my Aunt Donna and Uncle Tom. The drive was as much as a part of the holiday as any other tradition. Dad would drive, Mom would be in the front seat and the three of us girls would be crammed in the back of (for at least 10 of those years) our Ford Tempo. We always stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a crate full of Munchkins and OJ...I swear it was the only way our parents could ensure we were quiet and contented for at least half of the drive!
2. On one of those car trips I mention above, we stopped at The Maryland House - about a halfway point and a huge rest stop/restaurant area. Dad always got coffee there and the 4 women in the car made a half-running trip into the restroom. One Thanksgiving when I was about 12 or so, it was particularly windy. We all made it back to the car (our hair standing on end in the gusts) and Dad put his cup of coffee on the roof of the car as he fished for his keys. In about 3 seconds the wind picked up the cup, tipped it upside down and flung it all over the windshield. I don't think anyone spoke for a good 30 seconds, we just stood there with our mouths open, then the hysterical laughter kicked in...poor Dad...hopefully he went and got another caffeine fix!
3. This is sort of a random quick memory. The only Thanksgiving I went "home" for after I left for college was the first one in 2001. We were sitting around the table at my aunt and uncle's house in PA and I was next to my uncle's brother-in-law Johnny (who happens to be a hair stylist I think). At the time my hair was bright white bleached-blond and spiked up on end...he looked over at my hair, kind of swept his gaze over all the spikes and said, "Honey - don't ever dye your hair another color, you can work that bleached blond!" I think Uncle Tom almost choked on his turkey laughing.
4. This memory is from when I was about 8 years old and we were staying up in PA. We kids were getting antsy and driving everyone crazy (not that uncommon), so Uncle Tom took us out to Burger King for lunch. At the time Pocahontas has just come out in the theater and BK had those random plastic commemorative plastic "glasses" for sale. We walked in the door, Molly (my 5 year old sister at the time) looked up at Uncle Tom with her gigantic blue eyes and said something like, "Wow, do you see those glasses? They're so pretty." 10 seconds later we all had a Pocahontas glass - which I swear we used until we left home! Mom might still have one or two lurking in the pantry!
5. Once I moved out to Indiana for college, it soon became evident that it was too long of a trip to drive from IN to MD or PA for Thanksgiving and then do it again 2 weeks later for Christmas break. So my sophomore year I was at a loss - what was I going to do for the holiday? Go home with my brother from another mother of course! My good friend Greg, who is like that brother I never had, invited me to his house in OH for Thanksgiving. It was also the hometown of my friend Stacy, so I split the time between their houses. That first Thanksgiving with them and their families will always stick with me - they just openly accepted me and made me feel an instant part of the family, I absolutely loved it and me going home with Greg for Thanksgiving and Easter became a solid tradition all throughout our college years.
6. Flashing back to one of the many Bucks County Thanksgivings...Uncle Tom always cooked the turkey outside on this giant grill, and it was always delicious - Bobby Flay would have been proud. I loved sitting out there on the porch railing chattering away at the poor man while he carefully basted the turkey. Once such year we were hanging out on the porch, watching the turkey skin start to turn a golden brown when we saw it. There it was, a gigantic LIVE turkey walking around the backyard! It came all the way up to the grill! Uncle Tom and I shared one of those "am I really seeing this" moments before getting everyone else outside to see it. Poor turkey - came to mourn the demise of one of its family!
7. I am starting to realize just how many of my Thanksgiving memories focus on my Uncle Tom...he was always such a laid back counterpart to all of us rushing around prepping food and running errands that weekend...just sat back, enjoyed the chaos and took charge of cooking the turkey. Although one Thanksgiving when I was in high school, he was doing his customary grilling of the turkey and went to go baste it...with a plastic baster...which melted closed because the liquid was so hot! He brought it back in the kitchen to show us and cracked up laughing while he picked up the glass baster out of the drawer...and dropped it outside on the driveway where it shattered into a bazillion pieces. Oops? I'm starting to think Uncle Tom and I have a few things in common...finally I think we either went out and bought or found a METAL baster...which proved to be pretty much indestructible - success!
8. I have previously posted about the disaster of the first Thanksgiving I cooked post-college. My parents drove up from Oklahoma and a bunch of my friends were coming over to celebrate with us...in case you missed it, here it is:
Throughout the course of the evening I:
1. Forgot to take the bag of giblets and neck out of the turkey.
2. Did I mention I STUFFED the bird with the disgusting bag of goo and the NECK inside?! You cannot even imagine how horrifyingly disgusting it was to dig into the (now overly dry) turkey to get the stuffing and have a steaming bag of turkey guts spill all over the pan, counter and myself. There was screaming had by all...followed by hysterical laughter.
3. I decided to ignore the fact that everyone wanted the canned cranberry sauce and make homemade...which I still maintain would have been delicious...if I had remembered to add the sugar. That was the most bitterly sour bowl of goop anyone has ever eaten in dare I say? The history of the world. The taste was indescribable.
4. When I pulled the bubbling sweet potatoes out of the oven (topped with marshmallows), I slipped, burned my wrist and turned the entire dish upside down where it splattered all over the oven, the floor and my younger sister Molly who had just come into the kitchen to see if she could help. She helped laugh and hunt down ice and aloe for my burnt wrist before she tried scraping marshmallow/sweet potato goo off her pants...now that's a good sister!
The best thing about that unholy disaster of a Thanksgiving was that we all laughed...didn't take it too seriously and ate all of the other dishes that weren't systematically ruined by me! It was a wonderful mish-mash of my family and closest friends. We all crammed around our tiny kitchen table, drank sparkling wine and mostly ate rolls and green bean casserole until we could justify tucking into the dessert and coffee while we laughed at the ridiculousness of the day.
9. Aaron and I had our first Thanksgiving together last year - it was a quiet one, just the two of us and because I was living in the Baltimore area and he was out here on the Eastern Shore, we decided to just buy a prepared feast and not worry about the cooking. The food was delicious, but the company was better! We had hardly spent much time actually alone at home at that point in our relationship - since we were both living with family members, the houses were always full - so it was a great time to just sit back, relax and enjoy each other's company. I'm looking forward to another Thanksgiving with him full of laughter, great food (I hope!), football and the best company in the world - Happy Thanksgiving to my husband, I love you!10. Ok, now for the final and what might be the most memorable of all my Thanksgiving memories. I was 6 years old and we were up in PA (of course) and I kept asking for a ginger ale. My mom finally said ok and went to go get me one, I followed into the kitchen and being fairly short around high countertops, I couldn't see the glass. I just reached up and grabbed one, chugging down the soda. I remember vaguely thinking "this doesn't taste like ginger ale", but dismissing the thought and proceeding to down a fairly substantial Thanksgiving feast. After dinner, games and cartoons I was put to bed in a room with my younger sister Molly (only about 2-3 years old at the time) and we were each sleeping on a cot. A few hours later my parents, aunt and uncle were awakened by me violently heaving all over the place, freaking out and crying because I couldn't stop puking all over the cot, myself, my sister, her cot and even into our clothes piled in a suitcase...my dad threw open our makeshift bedroom's door and visibly recoiled, turned to a very sleepy Uncle Tom and said, "It smells like a (insert chosen expletive here) brewery in there!" As my poor mom and Aunt Donna attempted to calm Molly and me down, cleaning us and the room up, Dad asked, "Em - what in the world did you drink?" Still crying I answered, "I just had ginger ale!" and that's when the look of horror crossed my uncle's face..."She drank my beer - it was sitting on the counter next to a glass of ginger ale and when I went back to get it, it was gone! I just figured someone else had grabbed it, so I poured myself another one." I'm pretty sure he and Dad alternated between hysterical laughter, disgust, disbelief and guilt for a good hour.
That's a pretty impressive list of memories if I do say so myself...and I didn't even include my last Thanksgiving in Indiana with my great friends Josh and Ruthie, when we clogged the sink/disposal/plumbing and Dad and Josh had to disassemble the pipes under the sink to try to fix it.