“Dinner’s Going To Be Late!” And Other Turkey Tales

The first time that I was invited for Christmas dinner at my boyfriend’s parent’s house many years ago, they had just bought this new fangled thing called a microwave oven. They were very excited about it. A microwave was supposed to cook things a lot faster than a conventional oven, so they figured why not cook the turkey in it? Brilliant!

Well, to begin with, the turkey was far too big to fit in the microwave. They ended up having to chop it up and cook it in pieces, one or two at a time. And oddly enough, the turkey didn’t turn brown as it cooked, but instead came out a hot, sickly white colour. In the end they had to stick all the parts in the oven to brown them anyway. Needless to say, as the evening progressed, the voices drifting from the kitchen rose in pitch as the discussion became more heated.

The rest of us just sat in the living room and kept our mouths shut. We knew better than to say anything, even though a giggle would occasionally escape our lips.

We didn’t eat until 9 or 10pm and, from what I remember, the table conversation was rather subdued. I don’t think anybody was even hungry by then, but we obediently ate what we could.

I was so very proud of the first turkey I baked just a few years later. It was a dark, dark brown, just like all the pictures. But when I stuck the knife into it, it more or less exploded like the Griswold turkey in the movie “Christmas Vacation”. My Dad was too polite to say anything, but nearly choked to death on his first bite. In my defense, the cookbook I was using never mentioned that you should cover the turkey for most of its cooking time. The bird was dry as a bone.

A few years back, I was just putting our Thanksgiving meal on the table when the lights went out. A power outage. We pulled out a few extra candles, lit them, and enjoyed a cozy turkey dinner by candlelight. It was actually quite wonderful. By the time we were ready to do the dishes, the lights came back on again. Great timing.

We were the lucky ones, however. We found out later that a lot of people hadn’t finished cooking their turkey meal by the time the power went out, which threw their dinner into chaos. Half cooked turkeys, raw vegetables, cold pies. And no gravy, I’ll bet.

Maybe a few of them found creative ways to use their barbeques and fire pits to finish cooking their meals. “Dinner’s going to be late everyone!”

A couple of years back we bought a used mini freezer and a mini fridge to have just in case we needed back ups for our regular fridge. We kept the two units in the basement, unplugged most of the time to save power.

When it came around to Thanksgiving last year, I bought the usual turkey and trimmings for our dinner. Our regular fridge was pretty full, so I thought I’d be really clever and I threw the turkey, which was frozen, the vegetables, dinner rolls and everything into the mini fridge.

Except there was one small problem. You’re thinking that I forgot to plug it in, aren’t you? Nope, I plugged it in alright.

No, the problem was that I had actually put the all of the food in the mini freezer, not the fridge. By the time I pulled everything out, the vegetables, potatoes, everything except the turkey was ruined. Rock solid frozen. And we were having guests too.

I panicked at first, but in the end, I went out and bought all new groceries again. The dinner went without a hitch. Phew.

I’m sure many of us have turkey tales, whether from Thanksgiving or Christmas. Maybe something went horribly wrong, or amazingly well. A surprise guest might have shown up, or a new family member joined you for the first time. Trying something new turned out to be a huge hit. Or a catastrophic failure.

Thanksgiving 2020 will force many of us to find new ways to be together while trying to stay far enough apart. There will be very different Turkey Tales this year.

In my little family, we have a Thanksgiving ritual. Before we eat our meal, we go around the table and take turns telling each other what we’re thankful for. This year, I think we will be most thankful just to be able to be together.

Something To Be Thankful For

Sir Martin Frobisher by Cornelis Ketel, c.Image via Wikipedia

I don’t remember celebrating Thanksgiving too much when I was a kid. Sometimes I wonder if we really did anything at all…I remember events from school, but not from home. My mother was a Danish immigrant, and I don’t think my father paid much attention to the holiday either since he was born to Danish immigrants.

Thanksgiving came more about as I got older when my father remarried after the death of my mother. And slowly over the years, I created my own Thanksgiving with my family, so I sort of grew into it, you might say. 

I’m grateful that Canadian Thanksgiving happens earlier than the American one. Plain and simply, I like the longer break between turkeys :-). Our harvest happens earlier in the year because we are further north, which is part of the reason, but the original Canadian Thanksgiving happened in 1578 when English explorer Martin Frobisher, (portrait to the right) who was trying to find a northern passage to China, ended up in Newfoundland. He wanted to give thanks for surviving the long journey, so he gave a formal ceremony and the tradition grew from there.

When we sit down as a family these days, it’s a rare thing! So I enjoy that aspect of it the most. I also enjoy the preparations for the meal. The kitchen smells good all day and getting everything timed just right pleases me to no end when I actually succeed :-).

Last Thanksgiving we sat as we usually do and went around the table, also our tradition, so everyone can express their thanks for all that we have. Little did we know that less than a month later, my husband would be laid off and our lives would turn upside down.

This Thanksgiving, we’ll be sitting down having survived this last year with my husband back at work now and a whole bunch of lessons learned. That is truly something to be grateful for.

I look at my life right at this moment and realize just how much I have. It’s important to take a moment to be grateful for that every now and then, but Thanksgiving gives us a chance to really celebrate it too. It was a tough, but ultimately very fruitful year in ways we would never have imagined.

So to those of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, I send my best wishes and hope that you remember everything that you, too, have! And don’t eat too much 🙂


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