My memories begin with a few days prior to the holiday when I was 4 or 5 years old. I accompanied my grandfather to the turkey farm to pick out our handsome bird. On the way he asked me if I knew all boy turkeys had the same name? Tom. I was confused and ask several questions before he said he would show me when we got there. So we pull up to the turkey farm and as we walked toward the fence he was yelling out names, Hey Jim, Hey Paul, Hey Bob. No reaction at all. Then as we got up to the fence he yelled Hey Tom! And they all started gobbling and jumping around. I was convinced Pappy was right, all male turkeys were named Tom. So Thanksgiving Day I was just starting to tell my story of our trip to buy the turkey, when both of my brothers said I hope you got one named Tom. If my older brothers knew male turkeys were named Tom it really must be true. Many years later I brought my boyfriend home for Thanksgiving dinner. When I started talking about Tom turkeys my whole family started laughing. It was then revealed to me that it was all a joke. Evidently as my grandfather and I got closer to the turkeys that day he tossed a stone into the rafter to make them all goggle at the same time he yelled, “Hey Tom”. And I had believed that story for over 12 years!
Thanksgiving is a true family gathering, a day of feasting, football, family and most of all TRADITION. Growing up in a non-religious family it was the one day we all held hands at the dinner table and one of us kids got to say grace. I remember one year my oldest brother said, “Father, Son and Holy Ghost, who eats the fastest, gets the most!” We all laughed and dug in. Then while we ate our traditional Pennsylvania Dutch seven sweets and seven sours Thanksgiving meal we took turns sharing what we were most thankful for that year. Some were funny, some sincere and yet everyone was heard. I remember my father always had an extra dish next to his plate. It was for the neck of the turkey! He said it offered the tastiest meat. I have never seen anyone eat the meat of the neck since my Dad passed. My brothers would pretend to fight over what they thought was the tastiest part, the butt, you know that fatty piece of skin where the tail feathers were attached. They would make a truce and give it to me as an honor, after all it was Thanksgiving Day. I can not remember my age when I realized that too was another joke on me. After dinner the men went into the living room to watch football and the ladies cleaned up the kitchen. All the dishes were hand washed and dried. The leftovers, which could have fed a whole other family, were divided into containers to be taking home by extended family members that came to our house that year.
Thanksgiving has always been special for me. So many of my childhood memories were made on this holiday. What childhood memories are you creating for your children today?
” Reflect upon your present blessings–of which every man has many–not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens