Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Here follows a re-post - we arrived back from Seattle Monday night, the groceries and turkey arrived on Tuesday, and it's been just a little hectic. Enjoy -- I'm especially thinking of my sister because she can't be with us this year. If the weather allows, I'll bring her a drumstick over the weekend.

With the approach of Thanksgiving, my thoughts turn to my little sister, because one thing for which I'm always thankful is my sister's approach to life. She just keeps on. She showed her early promise the year my parents agreed to have Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt's (Pop's older sister, to be precise). To their dying day they quarreled about who had consented to go, each blaming the other, but we went. Aunt Clarabelle was the worst cook in the family and everyone knew it.

For a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old, the whole trip meant agony - no comfy corduroy pants that could be thrown in the wash after a busy morning peeling things, no goofy table decorations, no wonderful smells from the kitchen, no lazing around on the floor watching the parade. None of Mom's ineffable gravy. No secret recipe yummy stuffing. No, no, no. The morning was spent in hair agony, Mom having decided that her sister-in-law should see us at our cutest, girliest worst. This meant long hair cylinders, that is, sausage curls, and big bows. My scalp has never forgiven her. While she was working on Little Clotilde, I brushed out my cylinders, not realizing that while the brushing might get rid of the sausages, it wouldn't make my hair go back to its normal stick-straight flatness. The sausages were replaced by something that stood up straight and - "You look like shrubbery," said Little Clotilde. I may have been hoping that if I looked weird enough Mom would leave me home.
random eBay offering of old
pic of patient little girl with sausage curls
Plaid dresses, Mary Janes, tights, ribbons all duly applied, a few cruel rubber bands and a lot of Brilliantine on me, we trudged out to the car. Pop was optimistically checking for flat tires, loose rim, broken tail lights. "Any cop who has to work today will be in a lousy mood," he explained. "I'd rather stay home than get into it with some $&@!?%## over nothing."

Alas, the car was fine. "We who are about to die salute you," Pop declaimed as he opened the doors for his ladies. And off we went to the land of pink silk lampshades and plastic slipcovers.

Pop wrinkled his nose as we stepped indoors, nothing smelled bad, but there weren't any enticing aromas either. I thought I detected Lemon Pledge. It's a bad sign when a meal is being cooked and the family dog chooses to hang out in front of the television.

The grown-ups were issued teeny cocktails, and Little Clotilde and I were offered a choice of ginger ale or prune juice. Aunt Clarabelle was a devoted reader of magazines, and she shared the information that the shortcut turkey tips, the stuffing recipe, and the creatively approached side dishes were all new to the repertoire this year. Pop looked around for a larger glass, humming. "Are you humming?"

"Oh, sorry, a tune from some opera just popped into my head and now I can't get rid of it, you know how it is..." Pop had a wicked grin that we always looked forward to, here it was and Little Clotilde and I were almost dancing with anticipation.

"Don't fidget, girls, what opera?"
"Ah, Donizetti!  - ah - the magnificent Lucrezia --"

At that moment Mom grabbed us by the elbows, one a side, and bustled us to the pink-and-gold powder room to wash our hands. She used the privacy to remind us again that we were guests, we would mind our manners, we would not poke one another, we would try to eat what was put in front of us without making awful noises, and each of us would find something nice to say or allowances would be withheld.

Aunt Clarabelle had been putting finishing touches on her platters and apparently Uncle Er wasn't an opera-lover, for no one seemed to have taken offense at Pop's humming, and we were waved over to the table. Silver was gleaming, dishes were shining, laden with - hard to tell. I recognized celery and olives and a bowl of throbbing homemade cranberry relish.

At the sideboard Uncle Er was trying to subdue a burnt pelican, which despite being dead, was fighting back.
Meaningful glare from Mom - my turn to say something nice. "What a pretty table!"

And now for Little Clotilde: Big smile, cute little arms held out wide, "OHBOYOHBOY! Everything I don't like!"

This is a good place to stop.

Oh, right, Uncle Er. He disliked the name his parents had given him and chose one he liked better as soon as he could. Pop considered this ridiculous and refused to indulge Er by calling him by his new name, and Er refused to answer to the old one. To keep the peace, Pop just called him Er, and we children respectfully called him Uncle Er.

Just curious -- who holds the title of
Worst Cook in your house?


  1. Well I am not sure she was the worst cook but I have to say my husband's aunt's dinners on the holidays were dreaded. Turkey was served without a drop of gravy. There were no potatoes, neither sweet nor mashed. Rice was the alternative. And sins of all sins - no stuffing! Finally after many a dry holiday meal, one of her guests took it upon herself to show up with some cranberry sauce which was most appreciated.
    In response to your last blog, you found some beautiful silk blouses. Also just this week I commented to my sister that I had no idea who has issued the decree that women are no longer to wear stockings in frigid weather. For practical reasons I find it ridiculous and also think a wool skirt looks off with bare legs. I told her I will no longer abide by such nonsense and indeed put stockings on that very night. Now we must all rally to bring back the socks.
    Enough of the rant - Happy Thanksgiving to you and I hope you have a wonderful meal and great time celebrating with your family and friends.

    1. Happy Thanksgivivg, Teacups! I think the anti-goosebumps movement is an idea whose time has come, and I will march with you. Wearing tights, of course.

      No gravy - unspeakable.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Himself, wellfedfred! I honestly cannot name the worst cook in our family, as the food has always been good. I can only hope now that in the future I do not get labeled with that unfortunate title. :)

    1. And to you and yours, Melissa! Re: worst cook title - you're safe!

  3. My mother...she really sucked.

    But I wish you a happy thanksgiving!

    1. Thanks, Naomi, you too!

      I hope there was a Best Cook in your family - everyone deserves an antidote.

  4. I was crying with laughter: "It's a bad sign when a meal is being cooked and the family dog chooses to hang out in front of the television." I come from English/Scottish and Swedish stock: think Eccles cakes and lutfisk. No trying hard to stay skinny over the holidays.

    1. Um, my only acquaintance with lutefisk is from Prairie Home Companion, and this doesn't inspire one to seek it out. Happy Thanksgiving, anyway.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, WFF! I probably hold that title, less because I am terrible, but more because I rarely cook. I am a great preparer and arranger- fruit, salads, etc. But I shy away from anything else.
    Thankfully Mr. Knityarns cooks well. Funny because I remember being horrified the first time I went to my prospective in-laws house that every vegetable was pureed. I could only identify the food by color. Yikes.
    I do remember the sausage curls, and the painful combing out in the pre- cream rinse days.

    1. I think preparing and arranging counts for a lot, KnitYarns.

      Re: puréed veg - would that have been in the days when everyone was experimenting with their first cuisinart? I remember a similar spread at a neighbor's house after she'd received a food processor for her birthday.

    2. Oh no. I think the addition of a Cuisinart would have elevated far above what it was : )

  6. Hilarious! the curls, the Er, the burnt pelican, has it all. Yes I think sisters in law can bring that out in all of us.
    I can be a really bad cook as I have pretty much given up, although I always maintain I could cook if I wanted to though these days Im not sure if that is still true. I am Mistress of Assemblage (only works if you say it with a French inflection)

  7. Happy thanksgiving! Best story! Worst cook? My sister, hands down. She brings rolls. Nothing else is edible!


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