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Thanksgivings Past - Traveling Only in Time

November 27, 2013

It’s not just the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy; or the stuffing, crab bisque or pumpkin pie that I remember. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is filled with memories of grandmothers and grandfathers long gone from this planet, and of hysterical failures and serving faux-pas. Much of the real excitement used to center around the carving of the big bird itself.

ThankgivingA personal favorite would be the time my mother over cooked the turkey and while we were all gathered about the table my father proceeded the hated task of carving. With the first cross-cut of his knife the entire bird sort of collapsed into a golden skin pile of glistening goo with a wing or lower leg bone protruding here and there. ”BUCKET BIRD!!!” he loudly declared. Mother glared in grim-faced anger.

In spite of the tension in the dining room, it turned out to be the most delicious and moist serving of turkey ever. This was before the days of healthy eating... the bird was stuffed with a buttery oyster dressing. So very moist and turkeyesque...nothing like the no-bird-stuffed-in-the-making-of-this-pan-baked-dry-ass-bread-stuffing they try to pass off for stuffing these days. 

The most memorable Thanksgiving ever was the year my dad got an electric carving knife. Smiling broadly with his weapon of choice held high and filled with optimism, he plugged it in. A flick of a switch, and the razor edged tool started loudly vibrating. He got to work on the big turkey. The noise was deafening.. remember, this was in the days before video games... his groans and sweating were thrilling... We all watched. After each whirring, grinding attack, a small shredded morsel of meat would be added to the serving plate. On and on it went, the candied yams went cold, the gravy congealed, eyes glazed over... I am still a nine-year old girl, gleefully sitting at that table.

Brothers, sisters, nephews nieces, aunts, uncles, parents and our children - Turkey Day at the Gibson Island Club

Brothers, sisters, nephews nieces, aunts, uncles, parents and our children - Turkey Day at the Gibson Island Club

At some point years after the old folks were gone, we started having Thanksgiving dinners at the country club. I know my parents were happy. Good friends at neighboring tables, plenty of laughter and bonhomie and no cooking, carving or cleaning up.

Walking along the bay and reminiscing with my brother a short while ago.

Walking along the bay and reminiscing with my brother a short while ago.

After the big meal, some of us would walk along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay while others collapsed in front of the TV, watching early televised football games.

This year, we will be with our BFFs forever, Jon and Ryan in the Poconos. We get to hook-up in their driveway and eat some of the most glorious Thanksgiving food on this planet. These newlyweds can cook and we are Thankful.


The china pattern is Mikasa Intaglio Trattoria, and it was discontinued (though available at high prices at Replacements, Ltd.) shortly after I bought it 23 years ago. And there are always green vegetables, althought not visible in the photo.


Hi Peg -- the Travels with Peg and Bernie are the highlight,of my e mail. Some, like from Key West or New Orleans, make me wish I was with you.,Others, like you out west in the middle-of-nowhere meas, with your foot in a cast, make me so happy to be home.

Your Thanksgiving memories are great. I love the China pattern in the food photo.

My mother always cooked a superb dinner. I had forgotten about the time I found a cigarette butt in my stuffing stuffing, and told her in front of the guests. She never forgot about it!

My sister inherited the cooking gene, and one year her son-in-law took us all out to a fancy restaurant in West Orange, to spare her the work of cooking. The food turned out to be not so good and the next day she produced an entire Thanksgiving Dinner.

It was such a pleasure when you were in my watercolor class, and it's good to see that you,still make art. Actually the way you and Bernie,live life is the real work of art.

Happy Trails,

Loved this post, Peggy! I remember so well the transition from you mom's kitchen at GI to the Club - it was challenging at first and then it became the "tradition" we all looked forward to. Now I totally get her wish to enjoy the holiday with no concerns about the cooking. I cooked yesterday but maybe next year something else?


I agree with you.  Some of the best memories are of the past.

I do not mind cooking but it is the cleaning up that I do not like.

Enjoy the food and company tomorrow.  Happy Thanksgiving.  


This is one of your best ever! (I always love any memory that involves your mother!)


Happy Thanksgiving to you both!


The one best thing about Bird-Day is that families can get together, and enjoy each other --- & its rituals, most often table- and food-based --- w/o the gifting blackmail of Xmas or even birthdays.
And, most memories are of those kin or close friends.
Eat some for all your correspondents, and be well!

Sam Holt

Geez! Such warmth and feeling! Because I landed in this country as an adult, Thanksgiving never totally resonated with me. However, when the kids were growing up, I always made turkey, because it was important to them. Americans they are, after all!

What passion, the turkey! Only this morning on NPR, some techie suggested a new way to prepare it. The search continues. Maybe your dad had the perfect answer!


Thank you for the kind words. We are so glad that you can be part of our families. We love sharing the family traditions with you and are glad that you could make it this year for Thanksgiving despite how cold it got. I can't wait to try the dishes you made for us in the camper! Happy Thanksgiving!


Garrison Keiler has nothing on you!,YOu certainly make envious those of us who didn't know a country club from a country ham.,Tomorrow our family will be celebrating the first recorded Thankschannukah -- and the last, we're told, for the next 75,000 years. (I didn't know that Jewish calendars were printed that far in advance.) Some things, I guess, must be taken on faith. Incidentally, where's the green vegetable?


You guys aremean cooks yourselves! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!


Thank you for sharing your Thanksgiving memories of the past. I too can remember the first electric carving knife my Dad had the pleasure to use. Kinda tore up the bird but no one cared.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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