Looking for answers to life's questions

I’ve been looking through as many of my photos as I can get to and can find almost none of our Thanksgivings. Especially the meals. I asked my son about it today and he said it was because I was always busy cooking and never had the time to really enjoy it. That’s not going to happen this year.

The last of fall is so beautiful

I didn’t grow up with Thanksgiving. It’s an American holiday and my mother had a hard time grasping its purpose. As a young war bride, she had seriously limited cooking skills. You could actually say very little that came out of her kitchen was tasty for most of my growing up years.  We ate it anyway.

Our first Thanksgiving  at age six in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was fraught with frustration. First there was little money for all that food and turkey was foreign to her. A kind and generous neighbor brought over the very first turkey mom had ever seen. Unfortunately, it still had its feathers and head. The neighbor was asked politely to take it back home with her. That sweet woman plucked and prepared the turkey to go in the oven explaining to mom how it was done. We invited another hungry military family to share it with us. That’s how many military families survived.

This says it all. I don’t know where I got it so long ago but it still resonates

While in elementary school on base in Germany, we were asked to bring in a washed potato to make an art project. It was destined to become a turkey with paper tail feathers. Mine never made it to art class. I was hungry and the raw potato tasted just fine to me. I didn’t need that paper going to waste. We didn’t have Thanksgiving dinner at our house until years later.

Many later Thanksgivings were spent by my own young family with in-laws, or out of the country where we had no stove, much less an oven.  Tradition was fluid and flexible.

Just the in-laws long ago. Very formal

When we had our own home, the first Thanksgiving was such a big deal because we had invited both sets of parents to join us. Mine had far to travel and my mother-in-law was a great cook. Nothing like setting the bar all the way at the top. I cooked a 30-pound turkey that year and with my dad’s direction and advice, it came out PERFECT!

Every year, Thanksgiving is different. The number of people who show up for dinner, the food changes with some of the old favorites showing up repeatedly until they don’t. I’ve gone from making everything myself from scratch with lots of leftovers to quick and easy for only a few. This year my daughter, sister and I will go out for a buffet lunch/dinner in a restaurant. Maybe I’ll take photos this time.

The one thing that never changes in all the years of Thanksgivings is the thanks. No matter where the food comes from, I am grateful to have it. I’ve had 17 at my table and once there were only two. I’m grateful for the restaurant that cooks when I just don’t have the energy and  for family to share the meal. I’m grateful for the air I get to breathe and a body that can move and work. It’s the little things that matter. Having family at the touch of a button or within grasp. When I wake, I’m grateful for another day to choose what I can make of it. I’m grateful for the rain we desperately need and so much more.

While I was looking through my photos, I found this and thought it was a good time to share it. I’m grateful for the ability to put pen to paper and wish everyone a great day of gratitude and a full stomach.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Comments on: "Thanksgiving Misgivings" (75)

  1. Okay, first off, I love the potato story! How hilarious!

    Thanksgiving was a bucket of stress early in our marriage, as we tried to make it to everyone’s gathering. Then one year, everyone was busy, so we headed up to the in-laws’ cabin (just the three of us!) and tried to DIY. We tried to do everything like we did when everyone was there, and it was just depressing.

    When we moved to Texas, we knew we would need to create new traditions. We spent a few years going to a Yogi Bear campground and joining in a pot luck! Now my parents are here, so we do a low-key dinner with them. This year, due to our low income, we were blessed with a turkey and some other food. We will definitely enjoy it with gratitude!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Those tough years are the ones that make the deepest memories. I like low key though I do miss feeding armies of people. I find it difficult to just cook for myself. I tend to just pick at junk food rather than cook. I’ve had a lot of years like the one you are having. I’m grateful for those times too. Have a happy Thanksgiving, Bethany.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you. I give thanks that you will be enjoying some time with family. And I am sure we can all be very thankful that there will not be any raw potato on the menu. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our mothers must have both attended the same housekeeping school. Mine put everything in a pot, covered it with water and boiled it for half an hour. We were then served the resulting greyish sludge that slid off our forks and back onto the plate. Even it didn’t want to be eaten. But I don’t recall ever eating a raw potato – now that is hunger! I hope you have a good day, wherever you are and whatever you do. With love xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mom missed any cooking school whatsoever! My dad was eventually able to give her the basics but I can tell you I was chased with a wooden spoon many a time to force me to choke some of it down. The raw potato was quite tasty compare to some of the stuff that showed up. My mother started working in restaurants as a waitress when I was 15 and learned a few tricks. She eventually made some meals we still try to duplicate. She knew hunger better than we did but didn’t have a clue on how to cure it. The war was not kind to so many. I’d bet you learned to cook quite well because of your mom’s lack of ability. 😉 We are just going to enjoy being together today since my daughter has 2 extra days off to spend with me. Sending love and hugs back to you. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Another great story, told in your wonderful voice, Marlene. I hope you enjoy your buffet meal gathered with those you love. I remember a similar buffet Thanksgiving the year my father died. We wanted to try something different to combat the sorrow.

    As for eating potatoes raw, Sharon and I both used to eat them that way as kids. Then someone told us it was bad for us. I never met a potato I didn’t like, though prefer steamed, baked and fried to raw these days. Thinking of you and sending love your way.

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    • Thanks for stopping by, sweet Alys. I can never eat the price of that meal out but my daughter wants to pamper me a bit so I must indulge her once. When you spend a lot of your life with so little, you will eat most anything. I still let nothing go to waste. Stale, dried out or limp as long as it hasn’t gone off. French fries were my kryptonite. I’m a connoisseur. But I prefer making my own in the oven which are much healthier. My mouth is watering at the thought of potatoes now! 🙂 I had no idea they were bad for you raw but that’s the only time I had a whole one to myself. 🙂 Have a wonderfilled Thanks-Giving day. You already have the message down pat.

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      • Marlene, it’s Friday now and if your’e like me you overate just a bit, but enjoyed it surrounded by those you love. I’m glad your daughter wants to pamper you and I’m glad you let her. It’s good to give and receive when intentions are pure. Please tell her I said hello.

        Have you delivered Suzy-Qs wonderful book? I thought her birthday was in November but perhaps not. I know you’ll share with us when you’re ready. Sending love your way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I couldn’t figure out the program for the book and my daughter asked me about it just this morning. She will help me with it next Saturday. Yes, her birthday was the beginning of Nov.
        Daughter will be moving in end of January so lots of sorting and giving away going on. Suzie Q will probably hold off a while longer. It’s been a very busy time here.
        I did not eat too much. Brought most of my meal home for daughter to take home with her for this week. I can do just a little at a time these days. keeping it simple. 🙂 I have an order for a dozen bowl cozies so I’ll be in the sewing room all week. And making gifts for Christmas. 😉 Working with what I have on hand. 😉 Have a great week ahead. Giant squishy hugs.

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      • Wow, Marlene, you really do have a lot going on. I’m going to send you an email with time suggestions for a phone call. xo

        Liked by 1 person

  5. ” A kind and generous neighbor brought over the very first turkey mom had ever seen. Unfortunately, it still had its feathers and head.”
    I am so grateful for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Did I make you giggle, Cindy? I sure hope so. It was hilarious. My dad said mom would burn water trying to boil it. She eventually became quite the cook with a few specialties that we still lust after. Happy Thanks-giving to you and yours.

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  6. Happy Thanksgiving, I hope you will have time to take pictures and enjoy being together 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Judith. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. I’ll try and remember the photo today. It will be lovely to just sit down and enjoy the food for once. I’m being spoiled.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Every year at this time, I give thanks that Thanksgiving is not an Australian custom! I’m super grateful for my frugal and creative mother, who could manage to make great meals out of the most unpromising ingredients and taught me well, for decades of hilarious, interesting, warm and inclusive family meals, and for my manifold blessings. I can do thanksgiving (with a small T) any day of the year…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I so agree wholeheartedly, Kate. You were very fortunate to have a mother who could figure out how to make meals out of next to nothing. It’s just another day to me but one my daughter has off work to spend with me and while other families gather, mine comes to me and I enjoy the visit. I agree with doing thanksgiving everyday. Taking nothing for granted these days. Not even the air we breathe. Have a wonderfilled week, Kate.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Have a lovely time

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you Marlene for sharing your early memories of Thanksgiving, and it highlights how Grateful we all should be for the little things, and the things we so easily take for granted, like food on our table everyday, and nature;s rain, which our world could not do without.

    While as you know we here in Britain do not celebrate a Thanksgiving. I remember some scare Christmas times, when the children were small and we were struggling to buy our first home when mortgage payments went through the roof with 17% interest charges.. There was very little to go around..
    But you know to this day my children still remember that One Christmas when we had no money to buy presents..
    I made my Son who was Five a cardboard fort, covered with brick wall paper with turrets and drawbridge and ledges inside, and back then those little plastic soldiers were cheap to buy, So I bought Knights and soldiers on horses..
    My daughter who was three, I made a dolls house out of cardboard boxes, and cut fabric for curtains and made furniture and a new outfit for her doll..
    They both played with them until they dropped to pieces.. And both now in their Forties still remember that Christmas above all else..

    So we don’t need a lot of money for Things.. Just pour your Love in and you will see the smiles and love returned..

    I hope you have a very special lunch out on this special day, with special members of your family Marlene.. Because you are ONE VERY SPECIAL LADY… ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much, Sue. You are absolutely right. I too remember the hard times better than the times of plenty. You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain is the phrase that comes to mind. I enjoy the time spent with family more than anything else. We celebrate anything! 😉 It’s just a good excuse to check in with each other and laugh a lot. Not cooking is a treat for me. I will cook for Christmas though as my niece will be home from College. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wonderful Marlene…. Family is everything, and nothing better than getting around a table for a meal with them all.. Hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving.. MUCH love to you.. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sue your message touched me deeply. What you did that One Christmas was give love. How can you top that?

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Thanksgiving day may be the time that we are supposed to feel gratitude for all that we have, but– I rather would like to see gratitude expressed every day and let this concept of an overfed group of people sitting around a table or TV go. As with other holiday celebrations, time has changed how Americans view the meaning of excess and gratitude seems to be lost in the shuffle.
    Thank you Marlene, for your family history today. Even without pictures you conveyed your story beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you on the idea of how we do holidays. We are adjusting all our holidays to reflect the change. I’ll cook for Christmas because more of the family will be here and eat for days from leftovers but we are a family of immense gratitude everyday. I keep a special journal that I write in each night since 2012 of what I’m most grateful for that day. It keeps me focused on the good. I love feeding people and the noise of a big family all together. You really can miss that when you live alone. I hope you are getting some extra time off to enjoy with your family and wishing you a Happy Gratitude Day. 😉

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  11. What a perfect Thanksgiving post, Marlene. I loved your potato story! I think you missed your calling as a master chef…a 30 pound turkey…oh my word! I had no idea they got that big. Thank you for sharing your lovely words with us and the great post by King. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgivings and many blessings. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jill. The 30 pound turkey was a fluke. I’ve seen one or two since but have not cooked one quite that large since. My dad was the master chef. He had me put the turkey in when I went to bed on a low heat and then it was ready by noon. Not one bit dry. Have a wonderfilled Thanksgiving weekend yourself. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love your story! You are very generous with us to share your life! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Misty Hopkins said:

    Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving.

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  14. Marlene, I love the authenticity that comes through in your posts! I am grateful for a kind and caring friend like you in my life. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh, Marlene, what great stories you tell! I might find it difficult to be grateful if my neighbor brought me a turkey with all its feathers but missing its head. LOL Your poor mother. She probably thought they were nuts. I am grateful today for your blog post. I was feeling down this morning (some family members declined my invitation to Thanksgiving dinner, which makes me sad) and then I read your post. It moved me to tears, thinking about how things change. Every year, I just want my family with me for the holidays, but too often now everyone is too busy to visit. I suppose that’s normal, but I can’t help but wish for the Norman Rockwell picture-perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas. I need to remember to just be grateful for what I get – like you and your raw potato! 🙂 I like that you remind me that it’s okay if all your holidays are different. Maybe I can learn to love a fluid and flexible tradition, too. If all I get is a phone call from a loved one, well – at least I got a call, right? The little things are important. Thanks so much! I am grateful for you. I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving! May God bless you.

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    • Your words touched my heart, Stacy. Thank you so much for them.
      I get where you are coming from. That old illusion that things will be picture perfect. If my gypsy life gave me anything, it gave me the ability to be flexible and fluid. We most often did not have family close to us so we made family from who was. Other military families learn that very quickly. Children grow up and go their separate ways. We give them roots first then wings. I’ve spent so many years with either one or the other but rarely with everyone. When my second husband and I divorced after 24 years, I lost a whole huge family so I understand the loss you are feeling. Life is all about change and we can either adapt of get sucked down. I just call it adventure now. 😉 I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving anyway. The world is in fast forward for this next generation. Sending hugs.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Hi Marlene😁 During this time of Thanks…I want to say thank you to you for sharing so honestly from your heart. I have been away for some time and it felt so good to show up here and catch up on a little piece of you.
    It got me thinking about Thanksgivings of the past and you are correct…it doesn’t matter where we are…or what we eat…what matters is the energy of gratitude that lives in our soul!
    Many sweet blessings to you, Marlene. I hope life is shining light on you💜

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  17. I love your attitude, Marlene. It’s totally filled with gratitude. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. 🙏🏻

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  18. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  19. I just loved this, Marlene. I had to read it out loud to my husband. You have had a fascinating life, and hardships seem to give you a great perspective. It’s more than the-glass-half-full outlook, it’s wisdom and goodness on top of that. So, thank you! Martin Luther was absolutely right – when YOU put pen to paper, you certainly change my world for the better. And, your potato story will never be forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Jennie. We are each unique and all of our experiences of life are also. It’s what you do with those experiences that matter. I love learning from each person I meet or read. Perspective can be contagious. 😉 Happiness is catching. 😉 Have a wonderfilled week.

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  20. What a wonderful share Marlene. Thank you 🙏

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  21. I”m getting here late but I do love your attitude toward Thanksgiving! As long as we can be with people we care for, the rest is very flexible. My family makes our own traditions and sometimes a meal in a restaurant seems just right for us, too! I hope your day was warm and filled with love!

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  22. As usual, a very interesting post, Marlene, marrying past and present, and giving us insights along the way. Yes, always the thanks. Always reason for gratitude. And I’m still thinking about the 30-pound turkey — goodness, girl, that was a huge one!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Sorry I’m so late with this, Marlene. Still adjusting to the time change and settling in again. I loved this; it’s full of so much wisdom. I’ve always loved traditional holidays and at the same time have created some new ones, too. When my boys were young, just them, their step-dad and me seemed so small (after growing up in a family with nine kids), so we would invite friends who had no family, or none near-by, to join us. For me, that made it more special. And I love cooking the big meals! I doubt I shall ever have a family holiday again, but once I have a place of my own, I plan to resume cooking those big meals and inviting others to join me.

    My Mum’s Dad had a huge grain farm in Saskatchewan and always raised a bunch of turkeys. Most years he sent one on the train for Thanksgiving and then later one for Christmas. All organic in those days and I still remember them. No feathers, but plenty of pinfeathers to pluck out. And they were around the 30 pound mark, too! We always had leftovers for a few days and then soup!

    Like you, I grew up without much in today’s eyes, but, not having tv, had no idea we were poor. How lucky I was then!

    I used to keep a gratitude journal and while in the UK I bought a new one and began again. Such a good practise, isn’t it?

    I didn’t have Thanksgiving this year (in Canada, the harvest is earlier, so we celebrate it in October), but I was Thankful anyway. It’s been a miraculous year in so many ways, and not in any conventional ones.

    One thing I am always grateful for is the friendship of so many whom I only know online. It’s made all the difference in these past years. You, in particular, have helped me through some of the challenging times more than you will ever know. So I am especially grateful for that.

    I hope your time with your family was wonder-filled, as you say; restaurant or home-cooked, it’s the time together and the acts and thoughts of gratitude that count.

    Take care, Marlene. Much Love and Light to you. ~ Linne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Linne. I hope you are doing well and settling in somewhere. Christmas will be at home with me doing the cooking so it was nice to go out for Thanksgiving though I was not all that impressed with the food. I was just happy to see my sister and daughter enjoy their meals.
      I’ve done many meals with friends as family in all my travels and loved doing it. Many years without the traditional meal. In Taiwan I had no stove or oven so it got very tricky.
      Glad you found a new journal for gratitude. I think it helps a lot.
      I hope you do a post about ” It’s been a miraculous year in so many ways, and not in any conventional ones.” I would love to read about that. Have a wonderfilled week and sending love and hugs, M

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  24. So how’d this year’s turn out? Every year after Thanksgiving I find a photo of our turkey, and that’s about it. But the memories of each Thanksgiving are etched on my heart, just as yours are. LOVELY.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This year was photoless as well. I was expecting a buffet and got a short menu of over priced almost edible food. I don’t complain to restaurants but I did this year. Won’t do that again.
      Enjoyed spending time with my sister and daughter though, which is what the holiday is all about.
      I’ll cook Christmas and if I’m here next year, I’ll do something easy for Thanksgiving at home. 😉 I can give thanks without a big turkey. 😉 I do miss the big family dinners though even with me doing most of the work. It was fun. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are having a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We celebrated the Thanks Day with our daughter and her family (and various other relatives) at her in-laws (who my guy and I are great friends with). They sent us home with leftovers, so win/win from my aspect. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Now that sounds like my kind of Thanksgiving. I keep waiting for someone to pick up the torch and carry on so I can just eat and go home with leftovers, just once. 😉 I’m learning that letting someone else carry the ball isn’t a bad thing. I’ve tried the eating out twice now. Just not as much fun.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know! We used to host 17 people every Thanksgiving until we “downsized.” A smart decision! I found out I’m perfectly content to be at someone else’s home and bring my famous pumpkin pie and mashed turnips. 🙂

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  25. Just as Bethany said there always seems to be something stressful going on at Thanksgiving. For that very reason I would sooner forget the whole thing and just have pizza!

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  26. You have the most interesting stories. I love reading about them. 🙂 Usually for Thanksgiving, we’re at one set of parents’ or another (my husby’s and my parents are still living – for which I’m grateful!). It’s a good reason not to be at our own house for a meal.
    My parents still live in Colorado Springs. My mom married my dad when she was 17, but she had learned to cook helping her 10 other brothers and sisters. Then she landed a job at the Broadmoor (you probably recognize that name, hehe) in the south building, working and assisting the chefs who would come through and offer cooking classes. I was fortunate to grow up with a mom who is a masterful cook. Me? Hehe. I can cook, but I’m a crockpot queen. It it’s going to take hours to cook something, it’d better be in the crock pot and not with me slaving over it. Hehe.
    In any case, I hope the start of your holiday season has been good! Sending you hugs!

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