Thanksgiving Tales

By Laura Browne

One of my favorite Thanksgiving dinners when I was growing up wasn’t even turkey; it was pizza. We were supposed to go to my aunt’s house for dinner, but my sister and I woke with colds, so we couldn’t go. This was before grocery stores were open 24 hours, so my mother had to feed us the only food we had in the house: a frozen pizza. She was upset, but for my sister and me, there was something gloriously naughty about not having turkey for Thanksgiving. Between coughing and sneezing, we enjoyed our rebellious pizza and couldn’t wait to tell our friends about it.

At another Thanksgiving, I walked into the kitchen to help my mother serve the turkey and we both saw the possible disaster at the same time: the cat on the kitchen counter next to the turkey. I will never forget the sight of my mother’s horrified face as we listened to the guests in the next room blissfully unaware of the turkeyless possibilities. There was a long pause as she weighed her options. My mother swore me to secrecy and we served the turkey. She never told anyone else why she threw half of it away. She told me that was just a precaution, because as she slowly explained, she didn’t really think the cat had actually touched the turkey but she didn’t want anyone to eat something that had cat breath on it. (Uh oh, you won’t tell my relatives will you? I’ll have to tell everyone that’s ever eaten at my house that they can’t read this article.)

Another favorite Thanksgiving of mine was the first one that my husband cooked when we were newlyweds. My husband had proudly decided that he would cook the turkey. He was excited about doing it until he realized that in order for us to eat at lunch time he would have to get up at 5:30 AM to put the turkey in. And he didn’t realize that he’d have to put his hand into the turkey to get the giblets out. I didn’t realize he was so squeamish. He complained so loudly the next morning that I wordlessly crawled out of bed, ripped the giblets out of the turkey, and with a disgusted look, I dared him to wake me up again.

That was also the Thanksgiving that we learned our most important lesson about using a food processor – never, never try to make mashed potatoes in one. The lady on the other end of the food processor hotline that we frantically dialed was very kind and sympathetic. I bet she’d been getting those calls all day. Unfortunately, food processors take the air out of mashed potatoes. Imagine the opposite of light, fluffy potatoes- that’s what we had. It was like mashed potato glue. Thank goodness for a box of instant mashed potatoes.

Men’s need to carve turkeys always amuses me. Did you ever notice that men can lounge all day in front of the television doing nothing to help with dinner, but they spring to action when the turkey is set on the table. Suddenly the women who have been cutting, chopping and peeling for hours (sometimes days) can’t be trusted to hold sharp objects. Only men can carve the sacred bird.

Every year on Thanksgiving, I consider cooking something different: maybe ham or roastbeef, but I can’t quite bring myself to change the tradition. But I always make sure to have a frozen pizza just in case.

Happy Thanksgiving!

When Laura Browne isn’t musing on life’s little ironies, she loves to write. She is the author of a serious, but practical and fun to read book for women in business, Why Can’t You Communicate Like Me? How Smart Women Get Results At Work available at or Ms. Browne helps women become more successful in corporations through WOMEN Unlimited, a nationally recognized resource for cultivating leadership excellence, She offers workshops in California and Arizona.

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Questions on the Text

Answer the questions according to the text.

  • What was so special for the authour about having a pizza at Thanksgiving?

  • When they found the cat beside the turkey, the author’s mother believed that …

  • In their first year of marriage, the author’s husband got up early to prepare the turkey.

  • What does the author serve at Thanksgiving nowadays?