Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Friday Food and Drink Post: Winging It, Albeit With No Turkeys In Sight

 

Well, Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, and as with so much of my life this past year, it didn’t go off exactly as hoped, expected or planned.

I’d already announced, last week, that since Mr. She and I were on our own this year, I’d abandoned the idea of going full-bird, as it were, and would probably be doing my favorite iteration of fresh salmon on a bed of asparagus, with rice and pine nuts, and salsa verde over all. I’d dutifully acquired all the ingredients, driving for what seemed like days into Pittsburgh and back, and it was just after dinner on Wednesday evening. I was happy, ready, settled, watching an old movie on TCM, and nicely relaxed (well, except for the cat), with an adult beverage on the side, knitting a Christmas present for my granddaughter when, Blammo! Out went the lights. I suppose that wasn’t a total surprise, as it had been blowing, what I was taught to judge on the Beaufort Scale, about a Force-8 gale for several hours outside. I daresay a tree took down a line somewhere, and there it went.

Truth be told, it could have been worse. And it has been. But over the summer I finally got the backup generator hooked up, and our 8kW Generac kicked itself on flawlessly, about ten seconds after the power dropped. It doesn’t support the whole house, just the essentials–the water pump, the fridge and freezer, the blower for the heat, and a few strategically placed circuits. So for the first time in 35 years down here, we had water during a power outage. The height of sybaritic luxury. (I don’t want to know if that’s a rhetorical faux-pas or not. It deserves repeating. So I did.) The generator doesn’t run the kitchen stove, though; so it looked as if FirstEnergy was about to put a crimp in our holiday celebration. Especially when I woke up on Thursday with no clear indication of when the power would be restored.

I was undaunted. I had a nice ring of kielbasa from Alberts, the local butcher, and a couple of pounds of raw sauerkraut in the fridge. And I could find them, because when I opened the fridge door, illumination ensued. Fiat lux! Glory be! And I piled a nice lot of the sausage, the cabbage, plenty of onions, some caraway seeds, and a few other (secret) ingredients into the crockpot, figuring that if the lights stayed off, I could plug it into one of the live generator circuits.

But, as luck would have it, the lights came back on (and, more surprisingly stayed on) at about 1:30 PM, so I plugged in my crockpot and got working on homemade pierogies. And a few hours later, we had a lovely feast, and put a nice dish of leftovers in the fridge for later.

Today, it’s on to the salmon at last!

This little episode got me thinking about times things haven’t gone exactly right over various holidays, and I immediately thought of the time we tried to render a turkey edible that we discovered, on the morning of the festivities, was still half-frozen inside (that wasn’t at my house, I hasten to add.)

The first near-catastrophe I can just recall. It must have taken place in 1957 or so, when I, at toddler at the time, woke up the morning of Christmas Day screaming with pain and with blood all over the pillow. We phoned our local GP (family doctor), a personal and lifelong family friend and British Army Officer we knew from Nigeria, and he came to the house and diagnosed a burst eardrum. We were supposed to be having Christmas dinner at Granny and Grandpa’s so we phoned them to explain the dilemma. (This reminded me that, at the time, we had the only telephone in the neighborhood, which we offered to the neighbors, more-or-less on a payphone basis, where for sixpence or so, they could use it themselves. Lest you think it was greedy of us to “charge” them, they didn’t want charity, and the sixpence, or whatever it was, didn’t nearly cover the cost of the connection, which was quite expensive at the time. That was only 62 years ago, in an “advanced” Western country. How soon we’re prone to forget how very far we’ve come in the intervening years, and how very easy, in many ways, our lives are today. But, as usual, I digress.)

Granny and Grandpa bundled everything, including the ham, the mince pies, and the cake, into the back of the 1947 grey Rover, and drove the distance from Birmingham to Droitwich, and we had something on the order of “picnic” Christmas, since we were in the UK on a short leave, and really didn’t have everything unpacked. But it’s a Christmas I remember, and an impression and memory for a lifetime.

Have you had holidays where you had to improvise, perhaps to overcome an unexpected nightmare, or to accommodate an unanticipated, and glorious surprise? It doesn’t have to be food-related. Please share.

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There are 37 comments.

  1. Randy Webster Member

    I’m not sure this qualifies, but when we were kids, my brother and I had mumps (on both sides) on Christmas Day.

    • #1
    • November 29, 2019, at 12:42 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Ouch. I missed mumps. Had chicken pox and whooping cough though.

    • #2
    • November 29, 2019, at 12:45 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  3. PHCheese Member

    About 25 years ago our daughters’s college soccer team was in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Dallas on Friday after Thanksgiving against SMU. As a family we went to watch her. We traveled all day Thanksgiving and ended up eating at IHOP for Thanksgiving. Quite a let down from MrsCheese making the feast. BTW you can’t go wrong with Alberts kielbasa .

    • #3
    • November 29, 2019, at 4:44 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    I was once so feverish on Christmas that I was delusional / possibly hallucinating. I thought my hand was turning into a withered bony claw, even though I knew that was impossible. Not a good situation, to say the least.

    • #4
    • November 29, 2019, at 4:48 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    About 25 years ago our daughters’s college soccer team was in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Dallas on Friday after Thanksgiving against SMU. As a family we went to watch her. We traveled all day Thanksgiving and ended up eating at IHOP. Quite a let down from MrsCheese making the feast. BTW you can’t go wrong with Alberts kielbasa .

    What a nice memory, though (I’m talking about the soccer, not the IHOP). Although that’s part of the story too.

    The only think I love more than Alberts kielbasa is their kiszka. It’s the closest thing I can get in the States to the “black pudding” of my childhood in the UK. They do make it with beef, rather than pork blood, but they put buckwheat groats in it, the texture is exactly right, and the flavor is very close. Slice it in half lengthwise, and put it under the broiler. Part of the “full English breakfast.” Yum!

    • #5
    • November 29, 2019, at 4:53 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    I was once so feverish on Christmas that I was delusional / possibly hallucinating. I thought my hand was turning into a withered bony claw, even though I knew that was impossible. Not a good situation, to say the least.

    Oh dear. That sounds horrible, and no way to spend the holiday season. I hope you made a full, and speedy recovery.

    • #6
    • November 29, 2019, at 4:54 PM PST
    • 1 like
  7. WillowSpring Member

    We had already planned on this being a non-traditional Thanksgiving on Thursday. That was to be Filet Mignon and Lobster tails so we could watch the National dog show during the afternoon. That part went off fine.

    Today was to be the day for the Turkey (in order to have Turkey sandwiches later) and we were all ready – the Turkey thawed and brined and ready to start cooking the sides all day. Then, the unplanned happened. My wife (Mrs. Spring??) was walking the dog in the back, turned and fell. Her hip had given out. Of course, the dog thought she was playing – why else be on the ground moaning. When they got back in side, my wife thought it would get better, but by lunchtime, it was clear that it wasn’t and I convinced her to go to the Emergency Room (a clear sign it was bad)

    She was convinced that it was just something like a pulled muscle, but after the X-Rays, the doctor said the had broken her pelvis. Technically, it was a non-displacement fracture of the humpty-hum (or something like that). There is nothing to do except maybe therapy and trying to keep weight off of it.

    Now, that brings up a problem. Our old historic house is what some would call quirky. It is a double-pen 2 floor log cabin. Double pen means that two sets of logs span the length of the house to keep the log sizes manageable. That basically means there are two rooms upstairs and two downstairs (the kitchen is a downstairs addition).

    So, the place to eat is downstairs and the other ‘necessity’ is upstairs. That creates a problem when you can’t get up or down stairs. My wife decided to try to live upstairs. It looks like my future will be going up and down the stairs.

    I also have a Turkey – whose biological clock is now ticking – along with all the uncooked fixings to deal with. I hadn’t planned on that.

    • #7
    • November 29, 2019, at 4:58 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  8. Mark Camp Member

    Ahhh.

    Pure Ricochet.

    Thx.

    • #8
    • November 29, 2019, at 5:17 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Lilly B Coolidge

    @willowspring I hope the Mrs. feels better soon!

    My husband got the flu on Christmas Eve a few year ago, which revealed that he was the only one of our family who hadn’t gotten around to getting the flu shot. He loves to cook our holiday feasts, while I’m always in charge of church-going, gift-wrapping, and that year, packing for our visit to my family’s house the next day. The roast went uncooked and we went for Chinese takeout. That year made me a big believer of the efficacy of flu shots! 

    • #9
    • November 29, 2019, at 5:17 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    We had already planned on this being a non-traditional Thanksgiving on Thursday. That was to be Filet Mignon and Lobster tails so we could watch the National dog show during the afternoon. That part went off fine.

    Today was to be the day for the Turkey (in order to have Turkey sandwiches later) and we were all ready – the Turkey thawed and brined and ready to start cooking the sides all day. Then, the unplanned happened. My wife (Mrs. Spring??) was walking the dog in the back, turned and fell. Her hip had given out. Of course, the dog thought she was playing – why else be on the ground moaning. When they got back in side, my wife thought it would get better, but by lunchtime, it was clear that it wasn’t and I convinced her to go to the Emergency Room (a clear sign it was bad)

    She was convinced that it was just something like a pulled muscle, but after the X-Rays, the doctor said the had broken her pelvis. Technically, it was a non-displacement fracture of the humpty-hum (or something like that). There is nothing to do except maybe therapy and trying to keep weight off of it.

    Now, that brings up a problem. Our old historic house is what some would call quirky. It is a double-pen 2 floor log cabin. Double pen means that two sets of logs span the length of the house to keep the log sizes manageable. That basically means there are two rooms upstairs and two downstairs (the kitchen is a downstairs addition).

    So, the place to eat is downstairs and the other ‘necessity’ is upstairs. That creates a problem when you can’t get up or down stairs. My wife decided to try to live upstairs. It looks like my future will be going up and down the stairs.

    I also have a Turkey – whose biological clock is now ticking – along with all the uncooked fixings to deal with. I hadn’t planned on that.

    Oh my goodness. What a series of calamities. A Thanksgiving to remember for all the wrong reasons. My best to Mrs. Spring, and I hope she’s feeling better soon. Meanwhile, get cookin’! (And I’m glad that, at least, you had a wonderful meal and a nice afternoon yesterday.)

    • #10
    • November 29, 2019, at 5:54 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    @willowspring I hope the Mrs. feels better soon!

    My husband got the flu on Christmas Eve a few year ago, which revealed that he was the only one of our family who hadn’t gotten around to getting the flu shot. He loves to cook our holiday feasts, while I’m always in charge of church-going, gift-wrapping, and that year, packing for our visit to my family’s house the next day. The roast went uncooked and we went for Chinese takeout. That year made me a big believer of the efficacy of flu shots!

    Your poor husband. But your comment reminds me of the ending of A Christmas Story.

    • #11
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:00 PM PST
    • 1 like
  12. PHCheese Member

    She (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    About 25 years ago our daughters’s college soccer team was in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Dallas on Friday after Thanksgiving against SMU. As a family we went to watch her. We traveled all day Thanksgiving and ended up eating at IHOP. Quite a let down from MrsCheese making the feast. BTW you can’t go wrong with Alberts kielbasa .

    What a nice memory, though (I’m talking about the soccer, not the IHOP). Although that’s part of the story too.

    The only think I love more than Alberts kielbasa is their kiszka. It’s the closest thing I can get in the States to the “black pudding” of my childhood in the UK. They do make it with beef, rather than pork blood, but they put buckwheat groats in it, the texture is exactly right, and the flavor is very close. Slice it in half lengthwise, and put it under the broiler. Part of the “full English breakfast.” Yum!

    It’s been sometime but Alberts (Green Valley) was the cleanest packing house I had ever been in. Really good,good people also.

    • #12
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:06 PM PST
    • 1 like
  13. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    @lillyb’s comment also brought to mind the “Bumpus!” dogs in the Christmas Story movie. And that reminded me of Christmas a few years ago, when the “best” present of all was a kitten for my granddaughter, from Santa Claus (fortunately, she was, and still is, a very agreeable little beast, and she let me put her in a box, wrap her up, and attach a letter from Santa, just before presenting her to unwrap. 

    However, kitty had a little cold, so on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), I called our local vet, and my granddaughter and I took her down after breakfast to get checked out. Breakfast had been a substantial repast of leftovers, and my granddaughter and I left just after, trusting that the remaining denizens of the house would put everything away.

    Big mistake.

    They all went off to play games and listen to music, and when my granddaughter and I got home the dogs (four of them) had removed the ham from its platter on the kitchen counter, thrown it on the floor, and torn it to bits. One of them, who I think had eaten far more than her share was looking distinctly green around the gills, and later on, I’m sorry to say, they were all sick as . . . well . . . dogs. Probably the salt. At some point, every Christmas since, someone tells that story.

    • #13
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:10 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. Mark Camp Member

    She (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    About 25 years ago our daughters’s college soccer team was in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Dallas on Friday after Thanksgiving against SMU. As a family we went to watch her. We traveled all day Thanksgiving and ended up eating at IHOP. Quite a let down from MrsCheese making the feast. BTW you can’t go wrong with Alberts kielbasa .

    What a nice memory, though (I’m talking about the soccer, not the IHOP). Although that’s part of the story too.

    The only think I love more than Alberts kielbasa is their kiszka. It’s the closest thing I can get in the States to the “black pudding” of my childhood in the UK. They do make it with beef, rather than pork blood, but they put buckwheat groats in it, the texture is exactly right, and the flavor is very close. Slice it in half lengthwise, and put it under the broiler. Part of the “full English breakfast.” Yum!

    I will never get to a Meetup in this lifetime, if I’m honest. But if I did, I’d like to think it would have Ricochet food prepared from pure family memories, and one of the courses would be your black pudding.

    • #14
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:16 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    About 25 years ago our daughters’s college soccer team was in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Dallas on Friday after Thanksgiving against SMU. As a family we went to watch her. We traveled all day Thanksgiving and ended up eating at IHOP. Quite a let down from MrsCheese making the feast. BTW you can’t go wrong with Alberts kielbasa .

    What a nice memory, though (I’m talking about the soccer, not the IHOP). Although that’s part of the story too.

    The only think I love more than Alberts kielbasa is their kiszka. It’s the closest thing I can get in the States to the “black pudding” of my childhood in the UK. They do make it with beef, rather than pork blood, but they put buckwheat groats in it, the texture is exactly right, and the flavor is very close. Slice it in half lengthwise, and put it under the broiler. Part of the “full English breakfast.” Yum!

    I will never get to a Meetup in this lifetime, if I’m honest. But if I did, I’d like to think it would have Ricochet food prepared from pure family memories, and one of the courses would be your black pudding.

    Never say never. You never know . . . . but I think this is a great idea!

    • #15
    • November 29, 2019, at 6:21 PM PST
    • Like
  16. La Tapada Member

    What a lovely post. I enjoy your writing about food, but this time you brought to mind wonderful childhood memories I have of bouncing around the Peruvian Andes in the back of a gray Rover (1960s). One of the nice things about Christmas in the southern hemisphere is that you can open your presents on Christmas morning and then spend the rest of the day at the beach (if you live near the coast).

    I am very sorry to hear your story, @willowspring. Thank you for sharing it with us. May you find convenient ways of handling the logistics and may Mrs. W. heal quickly. 

    • #16
    • November 29, 2019, at 7:05 PM PST
    • Like
  17. Mark Camp Member

    She (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    About 25 years ago our daughters’s college soccer team was in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Dallas on Friday after Thanksgiving against SMU. As a family we went to watch her. We traveled all day Thanksgiving and ended up eating at IHOP. Quite a let down from MrsCheese making the feast. BTW you can’t go wrong with Alberts kielbasa .

    What a nice memory, though (I’m talking about the soccer, not the IHOP). Although that’s part of the story too.

    The only think I love more than Alberts kielbasa is their kiszka. It’s the closest thing I can get in the States to the “black pudding” of my childhood in the UK. They do make it with beef, rather than pork blood, but they put buckwheat groats in it, the texture is exactly right, and the flavor is very close. Slice it in half lengthwise, and put it under the broiler. Part of the “full English breakfast.” Yum!

    I will never get to a Meetup in this lifetime, if I’m honest. But if I did, I’d like to think it would have Ricochet food prepared from pure family memories, and one of the courses would be your black pudding.

    Never say never. You never know . . . . but I think this is a great idea!

    It was one of our best Thanksgivings and it’s going to be officially over when I turn out the lights now and go up. Your note’s a very nice punctuation, She.

    • #17
    • November 29, 2019, at 7:05 PM PST
    • 1 like
  18. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    La Tapada (View Comment):

    What a lovely post. I enjoy your writing about food, but this time you brought to mind wonderful childhood memories I have of bouncing around the Peruvian Andes in the back of a gray Rover (1960s). One of the nice things about Christmas in the southern hemisphere is that you can open your presents on Christmas morning and then spend the rest of the day at the beach (if you live near the coast).

    Thanks so much. Christmas at the beach sounds fabulous! I mean, I like the snow and all, but really! The beach!

    Granny and Grandpa had their old grey Rover from 1947 till 1963. I think it was the first production run after the war. Somewhere, I have a photo of it. This isn’t it, but, except for the color, it’s very similar. :

    Suicide doors. Running boards. The thing that we used to call a “tigger” (turn signal) was fitted into the stanchion between the front and back windows, near the top. It would flick out and blink when you pulled the lever on the steering wheel. Rosewood trim inside and blue leather upholstery. A crank starter. I’ll never forget it. The number plate was GOV 141.

    No seat belts. No air bags. No child safety seat. It’s a miracle I survived.

    • #18
    • November 29, 2019, at 7:20 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  19. La Tapada Member

    She (View Comment):

    La Tapada (View Comment):

    What a lovely post. I enjoy your writing about food, but this time you brought to mind wonderful childhood memories I have of bouncing around the Peruvian Andes in the back of a gray Rover (1960s). One of the nice things about Christmas in the southern hemisphere is that you can open your presents on Christmas morning and then spend the rest of the day at the beach (if you live near the coast).

    Thanks so much. Christmas at the beach sounds fabulous! I mean, I like the snow and all, but really! The beach!

    Granny and Grandpa had their old grey Rover from 1947 till 1963. I think it was the first production run after the war. Somewhere, I have a photo of it. This isn’t it, but, except for the color, it’s very similar. :

    Suicide doors. Running boards. The thing that we used to call a “tigger” (turn signal) was fitted into the stanchion between the front and back windows, near the top. It would flick out and blink when you pulled the lever on the steering wheel. Rosewood trim inside and blue leather upholstery. A crank starter. I’ll never forget it. The number plate was GOV 141.

    No seat belts. No air bags. No child safety seat. It’s a miracle I survived.

    Wow! I never pictured it like that. Ours was probably a 60s model. Are we both talking about Land Rovers?

    • #19
    • November 29, 2019, at 7:24 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    La Tapada (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    La Tapada (View Comment):

    What a lovely post. I enjoy your writing about food, but this time you brought to mind wonderful childhood memories I have of bouncing around the Peruvian Andes in the back of a gray Rover (1960s). One of the nice things about Christmas in the southern hemisphere is that you can open your presents on Christmas morning and then spend the rest of the day at the beach (if you live near the coast).

    Thanks so much. Christmas at the beach sounds fabulous! I mean, I like the snow and all, but really! The beach!

    Granny and Grandpa had their old grey Rover from 1947 till 1963. I think it was the first production run after the war. Somewhere, I have a photo of it. This isn’t it, but, except for the color, it’s very similar. :

    Suicide doors. Running boards. The thing that we used to call a “tigger” (turn signal) was fitted into the stanchion between the front and back windows, near the top. It would flick out and blink when you pulled the lever on the steering wheel. Rosewood trim inside and blue leather upholstery. A crank starter. I’ll never forget it. The number plate was GOV 141.

    No seat belts. No air bags. No child safety seat. It’s a miracle I survived.

    Wow! I never pictured it like that. Ours was probably a 60s model. Are we both talking about Land Rovers?

    Ah, the Land Rover was a specific model built for rough terrain and off-road use. Rover also made a line of consumer cars, of which Granny and Grandpa’s was one.

    Land Rovers were quite prolific in the “colonies” and we had one for a time in Nigeria. While I was there they looked generally like this and slightly more modern:

    Related image

    Is that sort of thing more what you’re talking about?

    • #20
    • November 29, 2019, at 7:32 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. La Tapada Member

    She (View Comment):

    La Tapada (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    La Tapada (View Comment):

    What a lovely post. I enjoy your writing about food, but this time you brought to mind wonderful childhood memories I have of bouncing around the Peruvian Andes in the back of a gray Rover (1960s). One of the nice things about Christmas in the southern hemisphere is that you can open your presents on Christmas morning and then spend the rest of the day at the beach (if you live near the coast).

    Thanks so much. Christmas at the beach sounds fabulous! I mean, I like the snow and all, but really! The beach!

    Granny and Grandpa had their old grey Rover from 1947 till 1963. I think it was the first production run after the war. Somewhere, I have a photo of it. This isn’t it, but, except for the color, it’s very similar. :

    Suicide doors. Running boards. The thing that we used to call a “tigger” (turn signal) was fitted into the stanchion between the front and back windows, near the top. It would flick out and blink when you pulled the lever on the steering wheel. Rosewood trim inside and blue leather upholstery. A crank starter. I’ll never forget it. The number plate was GOV 141.

    No seat belts. No air bags. No child safety seat. It’s a miracle I survived.

    Wow! I never pictured it like that. Ours was probably a 60s model. Are we both talking about Land Rovers?

    Ah, the Land Rover was a specific model built for rough terrain and off-road use. Rover also made a line of consumer cars, of which Granny and Grandpa’s was one.

    Land Rovers were quite prolific in the “colonies” and we had one for a time in Nigeria. While I was there they looked generally like this and slightly more modern:

    Related image

    Is that sort of thing more what you’re talking about?

    Yes, far more like that one.

    • #21
    • November 29, 2019, at 7:35 PM PST
    • 1 like
  22. Lilly B Coolidge

    She (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    @willowspring I hope the Mrs. feels better soon!

    My husband got the flu on Christmas Eve a few year ago, which revealed that he was the only one of our family who hadn’t gotten around to getting the flu shot. He loves to cook our holiday feasts, while I’m always in charge of church-going, gift-wrapping, and that year, packing for our visit to my family’s house the next day. The roast went uncooked and we went for Chinese takeout. That year made me a big believer of the efficacy of flu shots!

    Your poor husband. But your comment reminds me of the ending of A Christmas Story.

    Too funny! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the end of that movie before. I just never saw it growing up, and years later, when a boyfriend insisted it was crucial to every decent American’s Christmas experience, I dutifully watched part of it. I admit I didn’t get it. What was with the leg lamp? Maybe I should try again, but my husband’s tradition is watching It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas Eve. 

    Also, I would have been so happy to dine at the restaurant that ill-fated Christmas Eve, but the restaurant was packed and takeout was our only option! Didn’t look anything like that empty restaurant scene. 

    • #22
    • November 29, 2019, at 8:01 PM PST
    • 1 like
  23. EJHill Podcaster

    I’ve spent so many holidays on the road. Many missed Thanksgivings and New Year’s celebrations. (I always drew the line at Christmas.) 

    Six years ago my Marine was at his MOS school in Richmond, VA and my college football assignment that Thanksgiving was at Virginia Tech. I persuaded my ops manager to hire him as a cable puller. 

    So on that Wednesday I flew into Richmond, picked up the boy at Ft. Lee and we headed out for Roanoke. We were separated from the rest of the family but we had a grand time together, the only time I actually enjoyed a holiday on the road. After the game we took our time getting him back to the base. We stopped off at Bradford to see the D-Day Memorial and farther down the road Appomattox Court House where he used his military ID to get us in free. (A sobering moment as he listed me as his “dependent.”)

    • #23
    • November 29, 2019, at 9:37 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  24. Quietpi Member

    In the early ’80’s I think, I was working for the U.S. Forest Service, on a very remote district in very Northern California, not far from the Oregon border. I think it was Wednesday morning that the power went out. Everybody up there cooked with propane, but while stove tops and water heaters worked, most oven thermostats require electricity. So most ovens were also out of commission. The entire station, about 10 families, were affected. And we had family over (up there when you visited, it was for days, not hours, so we already had a house full). We had a kettle type barbecue, and I recalled seeing a recipe for turkey in the book that came with it.

    Meanwhile, a heavy snowstorm arrived. I almost got stuck deep in the woods, but that’s another story.

    So Thursday morning I set up the barbecue on the front porch, and proceeded to barbecue the bird, while snow piled up a few feet away. It turned out to be maybe the best turkey we’d ever had, and we had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, by kerosene lamps and candles. Everybody up there heated with wood, because propane was too expensive. So we were all very comfortable. The power was out for four days.

    And the turkey turned out so fantastic that I’ve barbecued our turkeys every year since, for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    • #24
    • November 29, 2019, at 9:38 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  25. The Reticulator Member

    She: Have you had holidays where you had to improvise, perhaps to overcome an unexpected nightmare, or to accommodate an unanticipated, and glorious surprise? It doesn’t have to be food-related. Please share.

    On December 23, 1983 we left home in our Dodge Aspen station wagon to drive the 550 miles to Mrs R’s father in Iowa. Our youngest was just over a year old, and the oldest about eleven. Normally this was an easy day’s trip, unlike the 800 miles to my own parents, which was a bit more of a project as a one-day drive, although we did both of those routes many times. This time we ran into snow near Lake Michigan, as is often the case. And there were strong winds. The conditions slowed us down somewhat. 

    It was cold in the car as we headed west across Illinois on I-80. The north wind blew fine snow through who knows what cracks there were on the the passenger side, making it cold and uncomfortable for those sitting there. I believe it was on this trip that a number of semi-trailer trucks that didn’t have the right diesel fuel for these conditions were having to pull over. Their fuel was turning to jelly. Anyhow, it was slower going than usual, so we decided to give it up and stop for the night at Princeton. 

    In the morning the car wouldn’t start. I don’t remember now what measures I had to take to get it started, but it was late morning by the time we got going again. Ordinarily that would have left plenty of time to get to Mrs R’s hometown for Christmas Eve, but the blowing snow made it slow going. It was well after dark by the time we got to Ames. There were only 40 miles yet to go, but the state police were not allowing traffic to go any further west.

    Fortunately, Ames had hotels, including a big Holiday Inn, which normally filled up only for home football games. They were almost full now, but still had room for us on one of the upper floors. Unfortunately, under those conditions the hotel’s heating system was not able to heat all the floors, so we spent a cold Christmas Eve huddled in our coats and blankets. There was no hot water, either, at least not hot enough for showers. We let the kids open one present each.

    On Christmas morning the weather had moderated. It was sunny and still, and the road crews were able to make progress. We found a place to get a bite to eat, and then drove to our destination. 

    So it took the best part of three days to make what was ordinarily a one-day trip. With the babe in arms it had seemed we were doing a Baby Jesus trip, even though the events didn’t quite match the Christmas story in the Bible.

    • #25
    • November 29, 2019, at 10:42 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  26. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    One Christmas, daddy never made it home from work. We looked and waited, but he never came.

    Then, one day, there was a smell, coming from the chimney.

    • #26
    • November 30, 2019, at 3:07 AM PST
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  27. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Wonderful stories of grit, determination and love, thank you! Family is, as is only proper for such things, the common and most important element. Well, except for @quietpi’s turkey, which sounds like a keeper.

     

    • #27
    • November 30, 2019, at 4:17 AM PST
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  28. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    MACHO GRANDE' (aka – Chri… (View Comment):

    One Christmas, daddy never made it home from work. We looked and waited, but he never came.

    Then, one day, there was a smell, coming from the chimney.

    Aww. We loved Gremlins! It came out a couple of years after ET, and I think parents thought they were taking their little darlings to something on the order of a follow-up, heartwarming movie. But this one turned out to be full of little fuzzballs from hell, whose release into the wild is facilitated by one disobedient child and carried out by another. Its dark and (some find them) problematic messages were instrumental in the institution of the PG-13 rating.

    But my indelible memory from our trip to see Gremlins (this, my poppets, was in the days when you went “out” to see movies; you just didn’t call one up on the computer or television screen; and you watched them in a huge auditorium with (sometimes) hundreds of strangers), isn’t actually about the movie itself.

    It’s about the little children–four, five, six-year olds, who were having the time of their lives, cheering when Mom rounded up the little so-and-sos who’d taken over, and were destroying, the house and stuffed them into the kitchen blender and turned it on, and when Mrs. Deagle, the nasty old cat lady from the house down the road was “ejected” at high-speed through her second-floor window in her stairlift chair and never seen again. They absolutely loved it! Not a single one was cowering in horror, covering their eyes, or crying for their mommy.

    But the adults! They were appalled. And so, my memory of Gremlins, the movie, is always accompanied by visions of one glowering mother after another exiting the theater with one or more screaming child in tow; the kid digging in its heels, wanting to see how it ends; the parent anxious to protect her little darling(s) from the horror. (Those doing the towing were always women. I can’t remember if Mr. She was the only man in the theater, or if the dads stayed for the credits.)

    But I’ve often thought of this as a little metaphor for the whole “let’s get rid of scary fairy stories” business that seems endemic these days. It’s the adults (some of whom are probably those self-same children who were dragged, protesting all the way, out of Gremlins), who seem much more scared of the wolf in Litle Red Riding Hood, or the witch in Hansel and Gretl, than are the children who are the audience for the stories. How funny life is.

    • #28
    • November 30, 2019, at 4:41 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  29. EB Thatcher
    EB

    My story is only about a minor-ish mistake. We had acquaintances from Australia passing through Dallas the day before Thanksgiving on their way to Sydney. (They were ferrying a single-engine prop aircraft to Australia from Florida. They were the ferry pilot and the new owner who thought that it would be a lark to go along.) As luck would have it, they discovered a minor mechanical problem when they landed in Dallas. My husband was able to rustle up the needed part from an aviation shop just before it closed, but no one was available to install it until Friday. 

    So I hustled out to Publix to get Thanksgiving dinner fixings. With just the two of us, we had planned a lower key dinner. I managed to find a turkey that wasn’t frozen and obtained the rest of the requirements: cornmeal for the cornbread dressing, fresh green beans, cranberries, potatoes, and pecans for pie.

    For some reason, I decided to roast the turkey in a high-sided roasting pan instead of a flat one with a wire rack. So of course when it was time to eat, the breast was done and the legs and thighs were still raw. So I just served only the breast and boiled the heck out of the juices in the pan (to kill any bugs) and made the gravy.

    The Aussies ate it all with gusto and professed themselves delighted with their first American Thanksgiving. And they were very thankful that my husband had prevented several days delay on their trip.

     

    • #29
    • November 30, 2019, at 7:19 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  30. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    EB (View Comment):

    My story is only about a minor-ish mistake. We had acquaintances from Australia passing through Dallas the day before Thanksgiving on their way to Sydney. (They were ferrying a single-engine prop aircraft to Australia from Florida. They were the ferry pilot and the new owner who thought that it would be a lark to go along.) As luck would have it, they discovered a minor mechanical problem when they landed in Dallas. My husband was able to rustle up the needed part from an aviation shop just before it closed, but no one was available to install it until Friday.

    So I hustled out to Publix to get Thanksgiving dinner fixings. With just the two of us, we had planned a lower key dinner. I managed to find a turkey that wasn’t frozen and obtained the rest of the requirements: cornmeal for the cornbread dressing, fresh green beans, cranberries, potatoes, and pecans for pie.

    For some reason, I decided to roast the turkey in a high-sided roasting pan instead of a flat one with a wire rack. So of course when it was time to eat, the breast was done and the legs and thighs were still raw. So I just served only the breast and boiled the heck out of the juices in the pan (to kill any bugs) and made the gravy.

    The Aussies ate it all with gusto and professed themselves delighted with their first American Thanksgiving. And they were very thankful that my husband had prevented several days delay on their trip.

    Well done for thinking on your feet! I’m sure it was delicious. Gravy! My favorite part, when drenching mashed potatoes or french fries.

    Fascinating, that people “ferry” airplanes that way. I’ve never thought about the need for something like that. I love small planes, and small airports–we have a county airport quite close, and it is fun to watch them take off and land. I used to travel in puddle-jumpers when I was quite small, the pilots were usually Dutch, ex-military, and they were very accommodating–“would the little girl like to fly through a cloud?” and so on. I remember one, whose real name I do recall, but who was known among the British colonials only as “I Shink.” Because he had no sense of direction, and was prone to proclaim, after we’d been in the air for quite some time, “I shink we are losht.” At which point he’d descend a few thousand feet until he could see what passed for roads in Northern Nigeria, and navigate by them.

    • #30
    • November 30, 2019, at 8:08 AM PST
    • 4 likes