By the time I woke up, there was already the faint aroma of cooking turkey. Mom, clad in her apron, had been up for hours. The turkey sat stewing in the special turkey roaster, which spent the other 364 days of the year sitting under the west window in the bathroom. This was the roaster’s one day to shed its typical role of towel-drier and actually do that for which is was made.
Thanksgiving Day morning was always crisp and sunny in my memories. There was usually a thin layer of snow brightening up the dull browns of autumn and promising the thick blanket that was soon to come. Our black-and-white TV set was on, broadcasting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
My parents had already set up the extra card table (the one with the flowery cardboard surface and green metal legs), extending the kitchen table to make room for our guests: my maternal grandmother and aunt (“Grandma ‘n Auntie”). Of course, both tables were covered with tablecloths, so they looked nice for the big day.
There were name tags made from construction paper and bearing the crayon-colored images of turkeys that told us where to sit, since on this big day most of us had different places from our usual spots. The excitement rivaled that of Christmas for this little blonde-haired boy.
As dinnertime approached, the bowls of dill pickles and green olives were put out. Thus began one of the most-revered traditions in the Mohn household: Each of us five kids tried to sneak as many as possible of both items, with Mom scolding and shooing us away.
Compared to the pickles and olives, the rest of the meal just wasn’t as exciting. Don’t get me wrong—it was delicious, but the prospect of seemingly unlimited pickles and olives was thrilling almost beyond words. We ate the foods most Americans usually eat for Thanksgiving Dinner, with the Scandinavian delicacy of lefse thrown in for good measure (probably the third most exciting food on the menu).
After the meal, Mom continued working as she slaved over our dirty dishes, although this was one of the rare days when she actually got to use the dishwasher (Dad said it used too much water, so it was reserved for Sunday afternoons and holidays). Dad retired to his easy chair to watch football, while us kids put on our warm clothes and struck out for Abbey Lake to go skating. It was about a half-mile walk to the lake through fields and woods (depending on the route taken). If there was enough snow, my big brother, Danny, would pull a trailer behind the snowmobile, upon which we’d hitch a ride. Otherwise, we walked.
Upon arriving at the lake, we’d sit on frozen, half-submerged logs on the ice and put on skates that had assumed the temperature of the ice during the commute to the lake. If there was snow, there’d be shoveling to do (Danny did most of that) before we could get in any skating. We’d eventually get a hockey game going, the soft sponge puck making the game safer, even if it did make stick-handling almost impossible.
After a good workout, during which nobody’s feet actually warmed up, we’d retire to the log, pull off our half-frozen skates and strike out for home, the weak late-November sun giving the landscape that atmosphere that still reminds me of those days.
We’d return to find the dishes done (thanks, Mom!), have some pumpkin pie and ginger ale, and watch football until supper, when we’d enjoy turkey buns with mustard, potato chips, and more pickles, olives and lefse. It seemed like there was usually some special movie on TV that we’d watch while enjoying yet more of the fruit of Mom’s labors.
That night we went to sleep, happy, satisfied, and glad we didn’t have to get up for school the next day. There was also that tinge of regret, as we realized we’d eaten up all the pickles, olives and lefse, and would be left with endless turkey leftovers for days to come.
Looking back, I can find ample reason to give thanks to God for Thanksgiving itself, and the wonderful memories I have.
I've included some old blogs along with the new. Should you ever find yourself suffering from insomnia, this is the place for you! That's as poetic as I get...