The Turkey That Wouldn't Go Away
I was a newlywed, cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner for extended family. My mother, my sister and myself were crowded into a tiny kitchen at our University City apartment, bumping into each other and generally getting into each other's way. Bags and boxes and pans were stacked in any available inch of space.
My husband's grandmother had given us a large covered roaster pan, and for seven months, it had been taking up space in the cabinet. Now, I finally got to use it. Not well, however, as I remember the turkey was rather dry. But we could always count on my mother's dressing being perfect and the sweet potatoes having just the right amount of marshmallow topping.
We gave the kitchen "a lick and a promise" afterwards so that we could spend the rest of the day together playing board games and catching up.
A week or so later, I began to notice a strong and disagreeable odor in the house. I ran water through the drains and checked the mouse traps. Nothing.
After another week passed, the smell was getting unbearable, and it seemed to be concentrated in the kitchen. I cleaned out the tiny refrigerator and emptied the cabinet under the sink. Still nothing.
I finally noticed, under a pile of clean pans, dishtowels and plastic ware, the big turkey roaster.
Oh no! I'd forgotten to wash it, and it had been sitting there, cover in place, with the turkey drippings fermenting for two weeks. I was tempted just to chuck the whole thing in the dumpster, but I couldn't make myself do it. I had to hold my breath while I washed the filthy thing—three times. (Tamara Duncan, Lake Saint Louis Patch)
Thanksgiving Performance Artist
When my oldest son was a little more than a year old, he was a very messy eater. At Thanksgiving dinner that year, his high chair was placed between me and a cousin who was a bit of a clean freak. I have always been pretty laid back, so while my son smeared mashed potatoes and stuffing all over himself and his high chair during dinner, I didn't get upset and I didn't try to wipe him off every few seconds—just took him to the bathroom after dinner and cleaned him up.
What I didn't realize at the time is that his eating habits had completely ruined dinner for my cousin--she was so disgusted with his mess that she hadn't even touched her food. (Angie Atkinson, Patch reporter)
I don't know that this was a disaster, but it was definitely disgusting—and a surprise. I decided to prepare the family Thanksgiving for my very first time a few years ago. I was so excited! My mom came over, and we were getting the turkey ready. I stuck my hand inside the bird to clean out all the giblets, and I pulled out a turkey neck! Are you kidding me? I completely freaked out! Who knew there would be a neck stuffed inside a bird? Apparently, everybody but me. Gross! (Gabrielle Biondo, Town and Country-Manchester Patch editor)
It's in the Bag
There is a Thanksgiving dinner in family lore about a jokester grandfather on my mom's side who experimented with cooking the turkey in a paper bag. Apparently, it was all the rage. Everyone was assembled at the table. With great fanfare, he carried the turkey (in the bag) out to the table. Actually, he had roasted a Cornish hen in the bag. So when he cut open the bag, there was the shrunken turkey! I don't remember if there was actually a turkey in hiding for the guests. (Doug Miner, Patch Associate Editor)
Cowboys, Dolphins and a Thanksgiving Road Trip
My worst Thanksgiving? 2003, hands down. I'm a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan who grew up in a tiny town in southern Illinois. When I was 16, my family helped me realize a dream by attending a Thanksgiving game at Texas Stadium.
We made the long road trip and had a joyous time. I was even allowed to walk the sidelines before the game! The fun was short-lived, however, as the visiting Miami Dolphins trounced my Cowboys 41-20. It didn't help that my cousin Amy is a Dolphins fan—and really good at smack talking.
Thankfully, the Dallas police gave her a speeding ticket on the ride home (she was wearing a Dolphins jersey, after all). All joking aside: Even though my team lost the game, the trip remains my favorite Thanksgiving memory. (Ryan Martin, Maplewood-Brentwood Patch editor)
When I was about 13, I was tasked with helping to bake Thanksgiving pies. I spent hours in the kitchen, and the pies turned out beautifully. Thanksgiving morning, I was carrying one of the pies into my Grandma's house when I tripped and dumped the pie in the driveway. I still get teased about the year I made gravel pie. (Angie Atkinson, Patch reporter)
If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Oven
It was probably 1999. We were still living in South Florida in a modest ranch-style house not far from my grandmother's condo. She and her husband often hosted us; we repaid the favor with Thanksgiving dinner, together with my young daughter and son.
We didn't notice the heat in the house as the bird browned in the oven and the sweet potatoes steamed in the casserole dish. The hubbub and the hustle of the cooking distracted us, or we chalked it up to the heat from the oven and the stove. But as we laid dinner on the table, we noticed the sweat pouring off our guests' foreheads. That's when we realized: Our air conditioning had chosen that day to give out.
The condenser coils were a solid block of ice. And, my midwestern friends, there is no fall snap in the air in November in South Florida. A disaster? Perhaps not. We still enjoyed our meal, though quickly. Another reminder that we had been missing those brisk autumn days. (Kurt Greenbaum, Patch regional editor)