Posted by on Nov 22, 2011 in My Blog | 5 comments

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

In 1981, our family had the honor of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the newest of our community’s residents…a family of five Cambodian refugees our church had recently resettled.  My parents-in-law were also down from Illinois visiting so we were going to be a crowd around the festive table.  Our new Cambodian friends spoke little English…very little but it was always a joy to have them around.  As you can imagine, everything was quite new to them and helping them resettle from their distant home proved to be a great blessing for all of us at First Presbyterian Church. I wanted their first Thanksgiving holiday in America to be wonderful.   I must mention here that my mother-in-law taught high school home economics so I always wanted to do my best for her in the kitchen!  Our refrigerator was fully stocked and I did not have room for our thawing turkey, so Mom suggested, that since the temperature outside was as low as the refrigerator, that we leave the turkey in its wrapping, put it in a large paper bag, secure it and put it on the picnic table on the second floor deck.  I am a true worry wart about food poisoning but after thinking and thinking, I did it.  The deck was just outside the kitchen.

Fast-forward to the middle of the night before Thanksgiving day.  Something awakened me and I thought I would check on the turkey to make certain all was OK.  Down the hall I tip toed into the kitchen, flipped the light on and all of a sudden our Irish Setter started barking.  I opened the sliding glass doors to see the bag of turkey on the deck floor.  “Hmmm. Must have rolled as it thawed.”  I was stunned when I picked it up and saw about a third of the turkey EATEN!!  There were little tiny toenail holes in the skin on both sides of the missing carcass!  My heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest.  I brought it in the kitchen, set it up on the counter and just stared at my half-eaten turkey!  I thought,”If I scrub this thing really well, could I cook the remaining turkey?”  Then, reality sunk in.  There was NO WAY I was going to cook and serve that turkey…after all, “What would my mother-in-law say?”  Then, there were thoughts like OK, the Cambodians don’t know about Thanksgiving, we could have bologna and all the trimmings.

Then, it became funny the predicament I found myself in.  I mean really, WHAT had eaten my turkey?  It was on the second floor deck?  So, I turned the turkey around so the eaten side was facing the wall…did NOT want Mom to come in the kitchen early in the morning and see that thing.  What a shock she would have.  So I went to bed and shook my husband and said, “Frank, something has eaten part of our turkey!”  He replied as he turned over, “Pat, that’s not funny.  Go back to sleep.”

But, it WAS funny and I covered my face with the pillow to hide my laughter.  Then, it became hysterical. I could not stop laughing and then, my husband sat up and looked at me and just said, “Really?”  I shook my head yes and he grabbed his pillow.  So, we enjoyed the hilarity of the moment and then got busy searching the papers for a grocery store that might be open.  Thank Heaven for Galaxy Food in Troutman.  Frank was down there when they opened at 7:00 a.m. They had one small frozen turkey left.

I stuck it in the oven hard as a rock and at 1:15 the Cambodians had their first American Thanksgiving dinner!  We all enjoyed the food, fellowship and the story!

My husband announced at the table that as he drove back into the neighborhood, he saw a congregation of raccoons at the entrance holding a sign saying “FREE TURKEY!”


  1. 11-22-2011

    This is one of my FAVORITES from the MANY funny stories I tell from my childhood! You tell it the best Mom! 🙂

  2. 12-6-2011

    One of THE best Thanksgiving stories of all times!!!! 🙂

  3. 11-13-2012

    In my current mindframe, I think I might cook it — teethmarks and all!

    • 11-18-2012

      Somehow, it was the toenail marks that were so eerie to me! 🙂

  4. 11-20-2012

    Momma told me about this the year it happened. I loved it then- although I could imagine the stress you were in with no turkey. And every year when I’m fussing and fuming about how to thaw out the turkey- I remember this and laugh.
    The food network’s prescription for thawing doesn’t work for me at least- and I frequently- have them iced down in coolers- on the deck- and praying the raccoons don’t get them
    I hope you reprint this every year

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