Nov 21, 2007

My Thanksgivings

by Anna Arnett

Nov. 21, 2007

"I've got to go grocery shopping," I told my husband this afternoon as we drove back from home teaching.

"Why? What do you need?"

"Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I haven't shopped for a thing. I haven't even priced, let alone bought, a turkey or even looked at the grocery ads. It feels downright sacrilegious."

Charles gave me that slow grin that extended to his eyes. It said, 'I'll never understand you, but that's okay.'

This is the first Thanksgiving I haven't been in charge of almost everything. It seems strangely unreal. Since our family numbers are approaching the equal of my age, we're celebrating in four different dinner groups--all here in the valley. Charles and I will be in the smallest group.

I'm remembering our first Thanksgiving dinner as a couple. Charles had poured the foundation for our house, and we got the wild idea we'd like to dine 'at home'. The middle bedroom in Mom and Dad Arnett's house was still our living place, and I helped Mom cook the traditional feast. Then, as all the rest of the family gathered to eat, Charles and I took our portions down the road a mile or so, and ate a la fresco, with boards across a couple of saw horses for a table and upended orange crates for chairs. The hot food quickly cooled, and the cold food warmed, and we got strange looks from the few farm folk who happened to pass by, nor did we linger long after we ate, but we still had Thanksgiving at our very own home (site).

As the next Thanksgiving approached, I found a recipe for pumpkin chiffon pie in The Joy of Cooking book we got for a wedding gift. It called for whipped egg white, and when I took it from the oven (as the directions clearly stated) it looked beautiful. However, as it cooled it shrank, and kept it up until the filling seemed thinner than the crust. How appalling. I didn't want to eat it, and even Charles passed it by, saying, "I guess I'm not as hungry as I thought I was." I took it out to the pigpen, and even the pigs wouldn't eat it.

The day before Thanksgiving, Charles said, "I'll make the pie." He asked his mother what went into pumpkin pie. I had all the ingredients, and watched him dumping, stirring and tasting as he mixed, poured (I did get the privilege of making the piecrust) and baked. My feelings were definitely mixed when that pumpkin pie tasted and looked beautiful. I've never used a standard recipe for pumpkin pie since, and the results please us.

In Japan, about a decade and a half later, we heard the Thanksgiving dinner at the NCO club was outstanding, so we took our six kids there. (One of our sons told me the other day that he did remember those dinners [we ate there three times] because it was the only times we ever took the family out to eat a formal meal.) Our news source was correct. The meal was very traditional, well prepared, and exceedingly satisfying. At the door as we left, a waiter handed us each a paper bag containing an apple, an orange, and about a cup full of unshelled nuts. And the cost was negligible. We were sold.

However -- we had no leftovers! Nothing traditional to munch on. It suddenly didn't feel like Thanksgiving. I spent the late afternoon in the kitchen, but with no turkey or stuffing or giblet gravy to sample, the older ones in the family, especially Charles and I, felt somehow cheated. The next two Thanksgivings, I roasted a turkey and made pies to snack on before I left, and we still had Thanksgiving Dinner at the base.

You'd think my thanks giving is all for food. That's only part of it. I'm thankful for a great many things. Indeed, my prayers of thanksgiving get pretty lengthy long before I've hardly more than begun to enumerate all my blessings. Come to think of it, I don't believe I've ever listed them all. And new ones keep cropping up.

One more blessing. When Thanksgiving is over - Christmas is coming!


  1. I love the holidays! The blessing just keep coming, don't they!

  2. I love reading your stories, Anna! Isn't it interesting that our most precious memories seem to be tied to struggles and challenges! We truly are blessed.

  3. You always make me smile, Anna, even when you're writing about heart-felt things.

    I've read but not responded to the last few. I don't always read at home and replying on another computer is so cumbersome I don't bother.

    I can't let the week go by without reading what my ANWA sisters have written.


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