Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Favorite Thanksgiving Memory Winner: Bloated Puppy

First and foremost, I want to thank you, my loyal BLOG readers for answering the call to share your favorite Thanksgiving memories. It was completely unfathomable how many great submissions we received and how many heartwarming stories I was priviledged to read. I can not begin to tell you just how thankful I am to have received a small glimpse into what made Thanksgiving special for each of you.

When I sit down at my table tomorrow with my family and the moment right before we all dig in, I will say a special thank you for all of you that have come into my life, directly and indirectly. It is each of you who motivate me to want to do what I am doing through my work and through my writing. I am extremely grateful that our paths have crossed whether in person or virtually through this BLOG.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

NOW....with no further adieu.....Our Winner:

Congratulations to Jessica Blanche for a fantastic story and for making me feel really, really old. She is only twelve years old when this happened some eleven years ago! I will be emailing you directly Jessica to make arrangements to get you your prize!

My family (being of southern and French heritage...) has the market cornered on any holiday that could possibly involve food and thus most of my Thanksgiving memories are the stuff of culinary legend, but the first memory that popped into mind after reading your blog was this one: It was 1995 and I was twelve years old, my parents and I had just moved to a small town in Montana and were embarking on our first "solo" Thanksgiving, the day before we had been blessed with a Montana blizzard that left snow banks higher than my head behind as a reminder and when we began cooking the feast that Thanksgiving morning we were prepared for another day of cold and snow and had resigned ourselves to spending the day indoors. They say in Montana, "if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes, it will change", and by noon that day the temperature had reached the near tropics (ok, maybe the cold northern cousin of the tropics but you get my point), the sun was shining in a cloudless sky and the snow was melting away into a swarm of tiny rivers. Wanting to break free from our captivity we decided that as soon as the turkey was out of the oven we were going to head out of doors for a spontaneous holiday horseback ride and then return to enjoy our dinner. We placed what we still call to this day "the most stunning, golden brown turkey ever" onto our dining room table and headed merrily out the door. We spent the next hour or so exploring the various mountain trails that were our backyard and enjoying the sudden, yet welcome, change in climate. Then my father began to talk about the turkey that was waiting, and the dinner rolls, and the cranberry sauce and next thing you know we were racing back to the house and salivating in anticipation. As we neared the barn I remember a thought that tickled the back of my mind briefly, I'll spare you the details but it centered around my questioning the whereabouts of our little dog, a fox terrier named Skipper who was usually in the lead of all horseback related activities. The thought went as quickly as it came but I didn't have long to wait for my answer. As we walked through the front door we were greeted by the tantalizing, almost overwhelming aroma of the morning's labor and by the sight of one very nervous little white dog, staring up at us from the middle of the platter which had previously contained a whole turkey but which now more closely resembled a Cornish hen, if it resembled a foul at all. We all froze. My father was the first to move after making the most primal of sounds, lunging for the dog, the dog made a move to run but as she turned her gluttony caught up with her and we could tell instantly that her speed was going to be greatly compromised by the mass of her stomach. If you've ever seen a little dog after they've eaten twice their body weight in turkey you'll understand this, if not, close your eyes and imagine. At that point all murderous intentions fell away and we nearly collapsed in laughter at the site of this white fluff ball who looked as if she'd been inflated like a balloon, even greater was our laughter as she attempted to make her way down off of the table. Needless to say, she did not join us for the remainder of dinner and the next year when offered a piece of turkey she promptly left the room. So, even though it was a sort of disaster of a meal that year will always be one of my favorites to reflect on, it was certainly the most comedic.

Though I can't share all of the stories I received, I wanted to share a few honorable mentions. Thank you one and all for submitting your story!

Cynthia Treglia

My Favorite Thanksgiving Memory occurred every single year at my parents home, when my 2 brothers, my sister, and all our children would get together for a very loud, loving, festive holiday meal. This may sound familiar to a lot of people, but to my family this occurred every Sunday of my life that my parent's were alive with the only difference being the menu. We gathered every Sunday playing outside, working on a project with my dad, like the time he wanted us to paint the house. It took us 2 weekend Sundays and we had the time of our lives transforming our parent's house while at the same time joking, teasing, and pretty relentlessly picking on each other. Our spouses became just another "kid" in the family to my parents, and were subject to the same skillful sarcasm and pranks as everyone else.

Now back to Thanksgiving Day at the Treglia home. My dad would get up very early to put the turkey in the oven, and then he and my brothers were off hunting on that cold Ohio winter day. My sister and I and all the kids would hang out with my mother, who was by far, the coolest mom on earth! She was silly and funny and childlike in her enthusiasm to be with her daughters. I will always remember the anticipation of my dad and the boys coming in the back door from their hunting excursion, stamping the snow off their boots, the cold air whipping in behind them to chill all of us standing there waiting to here about their adventures.
At last we would sit down to dinner with turkey, dressing, burnt rolls (my dad burnt them almost every time due to the complete chaos erupting everywhere in the house), and all the usual thanksgiving fare. If you have ever been to dinner in an Italian home, you would have noticed that EVERYONE is talking, hands are flying (as we tend to talk with our hands), no one of course, is listening, but all are laughing, teasing, and telling wildly funny stories. For one brief moment all is quiet as my little sister says a prayer of thanks for all that we have, especially each other. Then chaos resumes and we eat, drink wine, laugh, until complaints of bursting bellys' begin,
There would be cards, games, roughhousing, and non-stop activity until one by one we exited after hugs and kisses (once again the "Italian" thing), and everyone with their own bag of leftovers for turkey sandwiches.
I watched my parents love each other their whole lives and give us a sense of family connection and loyalty that has permeated all our lives and kept us close with each other and all our extended family (I have 56 first cousins - we Italians believe in procreation). On Thanksgiving, I love remembering the warmth and love I always felt growing up. It has taught me how to really extend that to all the people who come across my path throughout my life...............and I am deeply grateful.

Thom Singer

When I was a kid we always spent Thanksgiving with my dad's brother and his family. I was the youngest grandchild and my three brothers and four cousins were all more than a decade older than me. I liked the holiday meal with family, but since I was so much younger than the rest of them, we were not on the same level. From the time I was three until about ten years old I would take to putting ten olives on my fingers at some point during the meal, then drawing attention to myself as I would wave my hands around with my digits capped with black olive hats. The older kids would egg me on, while the adults would frown at the child who was playing with his food during the meal (except for my mom, who would smile and wink at me every time).

As the older kids grew up and moved on the Thanksgiving tradition died out and we stopped having the big holiday meal. When I was eighteen my mother passed away a few days before Thanksgiving and my dad, brothers and I were all together without dinner plans. Our cousin Linda invited us all to her home for Turkey Day and once again we were all at dinner with our extended family. Although with the circumstances of mom's recent death, it was not as jovial as past years.

I had long forgotten about the olive trick, but apparently nobody else had. At one point during the meal I looked up to find everyone at the table with their fingertips covered in black olives, mocking me in the way only older siblings and cousins can. Much needed laughter erupted around the table.

To this day I cannot eat a Thanksgiving meal without putting ten black olives on my hands. My wife thinks I am crazy, but it still makes me laugh...and I know my mom is still winking at me in approval.

Howard McKinney

After leaving home and becoming a married person, our schedule until our children became high school age was to visit my home (The Ranch) for Thanksgiving and my wife’s parents for Christmas. My family had some traditional (and very heavy) menu items. The other fact for my favorite memory was how much my grandfather loved for us to enjoy the ranch. So after the very heavy meal, I would pack my rifle and pretend to go off to the woods to stalk Bambi. I never had the desire to tell my grandfather that my tour in Vietnam had really taken the shine out of stalking Bambi; I’d rather take a picture or test my skill in getting as close to such an animal as possible (which isn’t too hard, by the way). I would go to my favorite place in a heavy wooded area and just sit down against a tree and listen to the leaves fall. Even in this position, no camouflage gear, hum if you want, I had deer walking by and once even a whole herd of turkey land all around me. Maybe this story might explain to Steve why I have never invited him bass fishing; I take a similar attitude fishing; I have been know to stop to open a cold soda right in the middle of a half-acre school of feeding white bass. Of course today I value and cherish the time with my family during Holiday seasons.


(and count your blessings)


Bruce Allen

In 1964 while living in Fort William (now Thunderbay), Ontario, Canada my father took us to the home of a good friend, a large, jovial Frenchman. His warmth was infectious as he busseled about his kitchen. I was 8 years old and I still recall how incredibly special that day felt in total.

There were pots steaming on the oven, his children running about as if at some grand party, and I sat on a stool near a large butcher block gazing at food and greens everywhere. He would wonder over with this HUGE grin from time to time and say, "try this", and something magical would be in a ladle or spoon to sample -- it would always be juicy and tasty. And most of all everything tasted like it had a bit of honey in it.

The table that evening seemed to be a giant mound of everything I could ever want to eat. Candle light, large brown bowls and dishes brimming over and a feast only an arms reach away from everyone at the table.

Most of all I remember the Frenchman. I don't know if I've ever felt such happiness glowing from another person. He was everywhere and everything. A laugh, a question, another laugh as if everyone near him could not be more amusing.

My final thought... if it had been Christmas I would have sworn that he was Santa Claus. Instead, he is a wonderful memory of how magical a gathering of friends a Thanksgiving can be for an eight year old.

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