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Through The Lens: Thanksgiving Nostalgia

By Staff | Nov 26, 2019

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2019, it is late this year. That means Christmas is only three weeks away. So, if you haven’t gotten your Christmas shopping started, you are a week behind. That extra week you generally have for shopping was given to you by President Franklin Roosevelt.

His proclamation back in 1941 established Thanksgiving would be on the fourth Thursday of the month. Before that, some celebrated on the last Thursday and some on the second-to-last Thursday. Roosevelt wanted to give shoppers four weeks to shop before Christmas.

There was nothing in the proclamation about Black Friday sales. Maybe if he declared, only the day after Thanksgiving could there be Black Friday sales, we wouldn’t be having them starting after Halloween.

Due to the extra week, your turkey this year might just be a little larger. And if you have not begun to thaw that larger turkey, time is a wastin’. You better hurry and get it into a sink of cold water. Most recommendations say it will take 2 to 3 hours per five pounds of bird. That may be true, if you have kept it in the refrigerator for a few days before the final thaw. No matter how you thaw your turkey, it is important to season it and rub lots of butter all over it so it will brown when cooked. One more thing you should remember: remove the neck, heart, and gizzard that are hidden inside the bird. Very important that this is done.

After it is prepared, you can get up early and pop the bird into the oven. By ten o’clock your house should be filled with the smell of roasting turkey.

Of all the yearly holidays, I believe that Thanksgiving may have more family traditions than any of the others. Homes are filled with the aroma of pumpkin pie and warm cinnamon. From out of the attic old card tables that have been hidden away for a year make their annual return to the living room. They serve their traditional role as tables for the little kids to eat their meal.

Most of the adults crowd around the big table rubbing elbows with other relatives they haven’t spoken with since last year. A couple of the guests sit on the couch watching football on television. It is known, they will get their meal and return to their place on the couch to continue watching the game.

This year, the couch is covered so Uncle Harry doesn’t get cranberry sauce on the on it again this year. Thanksgiving traditions no matter how large or small are part of the enjoyment of the day.

Today, the commercial world is trying to fill our lives with new traditions. Black Friday sales on Mondays. Two months of Christmas shows on cable television. SPOILER ALERT! I’ll give you a hint about those shows. First, two people who have not seen each other for years just happen to meet once again. Fate brought them back together at Christmas and they both blame the other for the past.

Next, they slowly begin to become friends once again. Throw in a family that is happy at their reuniting and a happy holiday plot is complete. Twenty minutes into the second hour and it looks like all is well in Christmas Town.

Then something happens and they suddenly go their own way once again. Finally a little Christmas magic and they live happily ever after. There, in seven sentences I have told you the plot of every Christmas movie you will ever watch. One other thing, these movies are almost always chick movies.

But, this time tested plot for a holiday movie is not new. Just think about it, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street. Plot developed, things look to be going well for the main characters and then a sudden crisis which is followed by a happy ending.

Same plot, different stories. Even Ralphy in the Christmas Story ends up with his Red Rider BB gun after a similar plot line unfolds, even if he almost does shoot his eye out.

Back in 1970, Mary and I celebrated as husband and wife our first holiday meal. A couple months earlier I came home from my base in New Mexico and asked her how much money she had. She responded a thousand dollars. I asked her to marry me.

A couple days later, we flew back out west. It took us a few months to get settled into our new lives and spend her life’s savings. But, there was enough left by Thanksgiving that we could buy our very first turkey together.

Now you need to know that I had never touched an uncooked turkey and Mary had only helped out around the kitchen. Her mom was a good cook and the kitchen was her domain. But, we were young and had a can-do-attitude. How hard could it be, thaw the turkey and then cook it?

We found a small turkey at the base PX and brought it home to prepare it for the oven. Our trailer was soon filled with the smell of our very first Thanksgiving dinner. We even dressed up for our Thanksgiving meal together, far from home. It was just the two of us, but still it helped to make us feel like we were home.

This next part of my story, let’s keep between us. Don’t say anything to Mary about what I am about to tell you. With “It’s a Wonderful Life” playing on our old black and white television, we sat down for our first meal. Just like in the movie the turkey was placed ceremoniously in the center of our small table.

I began carving the bird in anticipation of enjoying Mary’s first cooked turkey.

We probably felt a little sad knowing our families were 1800 miles away. Still we were very happy in our new lives. Carving the turkey we saw something inside. It was a white paper bag. We realized that we had forgotten to remove the neck, heart, liver along with the gizzard from inside the turkey. Mary felt bad at the time.

Today, she laughs when I remind her to look inside the bird. That moment of nostalgic history has become part of our family tradition. Roast turkey and pumpkin pies come and go, but warm Thanksgiving memories will remain for a lifetime.

I am sure each of you reading this story have nostalgic memories of past Thanksgivings. Sharing those with your family as Mary and I have shared with you, helps the next generation appreciate time spent with family and friends, even if they are miles away.

On behalf of the Wetzel Chronicle staff, Mary and myself, we wish each of you a joyous day and hope it is filled with warm memories, as we have shared ours Through the Lens.