Thanksgiving Traditions

I love to be with family for Thanksgiving.  The laughter and good food just completes my soul and helps me get ready for the month long period of build up for Christmas.  For the day, we will be at my niece's house in Kansas City.  She is the greatest host you could ever want and the smiles go on and on. 

As a child, many times we would go to one of my grandparents house for Thanksgiving.  Seems like those trips included hunting season north of Hoisington, KS near Susank.  There would almost always be a turkey but I do remember pheasant a lot.  Seems like the oil field workers just didn't love the eating of the pheasant as much as we did.  Grand father, Curly Fruits, had a way of cleaning the birds that to me was unique.  He would split the skin from the neck down and pull the entire skin, feathers and all off in one motion.  After removing the guts, Grandma would take the birds in the house to soak ion salt water.  Generally this was overnight and the next day she would bake the cut up pieces in the oven low and slow.  She would take those half cooked pieces out of the oven and then treat them like fried chicken.   I'll bet I ate as many pheasants as anyone ever.  Loved the food my grandmother cooked.

I don't know why I feel compelled to share this story but it just stands out.  One year we had a great hunting season and I'll bet the 10 or so hunters all got their limit of three birds.  Grandpa spread out enough newspapers to cover the back porch and he started cleaning all those birds.  Somewhere the near the end of the carnage, my brother Rick came out to the back porch to watch.  He sat there silently and all of a sudden he just vomited right there in the middle of the piles of guts, skin and feathers.  Most of us would have just left the porch but he stayed there until he got sick.  I don't remember him as having a weak stomach, but that time all that mess just was more than he could stand.

The Military tradition is that the units would invite the family members to eat with the unit.  I was in Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at for Fort Sill, Oklahoma for my first Thanksgiving in the Army.   They asked for volunteer servers and I got to serve my first pies on the serving line.  I think that was the start of my Holiday dinners for me.  I always brought my red apron, my Santa hat and served pies.  Right to the end of my time in the Guard, I always served pies to the crowds.  I just loved to ask the children if they wanted a little whipped cream on their pumpkin pie. Smiles just made that work a treat.

The one thing I really did learn from my first duty on the serving line was that you didn't leave turkey out too long.  They left the turkeys on the serving line without the benefit of a steam table and then didn't rush to put it in the cooler when the meal was finished. I think they left the food out to give the serves a chance to eat at the end.  I skipped the evening meal and many of the guys in my Battery who ate leftover turkey and dressing that evening were sick for most of the weekend after that.  The good news was there was a training holiday until Monday. 

One thing I miss when we go somewhere else to eat is the lack of leftovers.  One way I have found to overcome that is to smoke a turkey the week before or after Thanksgiving.  I watch the weather forecast and try to find a day I can be outside and cook up a wonderful bird.  Did that last week and was really disappointed that in my rush I didn't bring the bird or season it enough to power past the smoke taste.  Now, don't get me wrong, the hickory smoke on my turkey is pretty good but I didn't get enough seasoning into the bird and it is just a little flat.  (This year)     There is also the matter of left over pie.  Just how can a meal of stuffing and turkey be complete without a wedge of pie.

My mother loved pie in about any form.  I think the majority of the family would rather have a good pie than most cakes.    My niece Amy commented that every time she would go visit with my mother they would have a piece of apple pie with a scoop of ice cream.  She said that my mother was also fond of those fried apple pies from McDonalds.  I do know that it was a surprise when the whole family ganged up on mother and told her that we did not like her sour cream and raisin pie.  Ditto on the mince meat pie.  She just started using the Mrs. Smith's pies.  Yea!  

Every time I get off on the subject of pies, I feel compelled to share that my sisters were in 4-H as young girls and every year they would work on their cherry pie recipe until even today my last choice in pies is cherry.  I will eat it if there is nothing else but apple or any of the cream pies just make my day.  I leave pumpkin pie to those that love it.  Put a little whipped cream on it and It is something I will eat with a good cuppa coffee. much later after the meal.

Now I am hungry....


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