Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving, Pilgrims and Exploding Turkeys...

This post is a reprint from 2007. I hope you enjoy it. Or find it useful. Or hopefully entertaining...

For the real story about the Pilgrims and Indians, read Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. I have this book, which is excellent, but eye-opening to be sure. For an excellent review click the link:
For a shorter version about the real deal and history of Thanksgiving click the link:

Do you remember when you were in kindergarten and first heard the "story about the pilgrims? Maybe you had an Indian head band or a pilgrim hat. Some schools had roasted pumpkin seeds. Or that colored corn.

As an adult of course I knew that the reality wasn't anything like the story we were taught in school. A while back while researching our family history, I discovered that my husband has several Mayflower ancestors. As part of our research, we made a pilgrimage to Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts. We did the complete tour and that particular day was re-enactment day. It was wonderful.

The interesting thing was that there was no black clothing. The Pilgrims were not Puritans. Their clothing was dull colors, but not black. The houses were tiny. The beds were tinier. I can't imagine when anyone found privacy or the time to have children. Yet one of my husband's ancestors had twenty. Hmmmm.

One of my favorite events happened in the Francis Cooke home. "Mrs. Cooke" was answering questions and one of the women in our group asked why Mrs. Cooke's clothing was wrinkled. What about ironing. "Mrs. Cooke" gave her a very direct look and replied, "But that would be vanity!" Until then I hadn't thought about how I was avoiding vanity by not ironing!

Certainly, it was a very educational experience. We'll go back again... hopefully for Thanksgiving some year. Every year they have a "real" re-enactment feast. That is something I would like to take part in.

Below is the story of our Exploding Turkey. Enjoy!

One year, I think it was 1984, we moved into a new house the day before Thanksgiving. This was after spending four weeks in a hotel with four kids, three of them teenagers. It was a move from Houston, Texas to upstate New York. The kids were out of school for that four weeks because we didn't have an "official" address.

So finally, we moved in on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. That year it was also my birthday. The next morning when we woke up we had no water because the pipes were frozen. Nothing was unpacked, but we had the presence of mind pick up several aluminum roasting pans. For the turkey, we doubled two pans and plopped the turkey in the oven while we rousted out the necessities from the jumble of boxes that were piled high in the living room and dining room.

It wasn't the first time I had moved. Actually, it was move number forty. So the next morning chaos was not something new. There were the usual shouts of "Mom, where is...?" and the usual jockeying for space and attention. My husband was trying to figure out why we had hot water in the toilet. Just the little things in life.

When is was time to take the turkey out, the pan collapsed, burning my husband's hands. He tossed it on the top of the stove and it exploded. In a instant we had turkey, dressing, and broth everywhere...on the ceiling, on the walls and counters, down in the innards of the brand new stove...on the floor. Everywhere.

The househunk took the stove apart and carried it outside to wash the worst of it off with the hose in the yard. The boys got in an argument and my younger son "ran away". I remember kneeling on the floor trying to mop up that greasy mess and crying, "I want to go home!"

And my husband leaned down and calmly said, "We are home."

Heh. Well, the runaway came home. My daughters helped set the table and my sons helped wash walls and counters. Amazingly, we sat down to dinner, thankful to be in a home instead of that hotel. And every year, we retell the story of the exploding turkey dinner.

After all, it was way better than the fire in the furnace on Christmas Day. Trust me on this.



  1. OMG...what a hoot. lol Too funny, Anny. Love this story. I've got a nice Thanksgiving story I think I'll post on my personal blog tomorrow. Only my story left a scar. lol

    Thanks for sharing, made me laugh.

  2. Great story. And, lol. I know I shouldn't laugh but aren't the most miserable events the funniest to look back upon? Or at least the most memorable? My step father once unended the dinner table. I remember mashed potatoes everywhere. It wasn't funny. But, I've never forgotten it. My mother cleaned up every bit of it before she went to bed. In the morning, you would never have known that it had happened.