A Different Kind of Turkey Dinner

There was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving in place of the traditional turkey and dressing did not go over very well with our children. I think it brought back memories of another Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard.

There was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving in place of the traditional turkey and dressing did not go over very well with our children. I think it brought back memories of another Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard. Our three children were elementary school age when we spent our first Thanksgiving with their grandparents in Missouri....

Our three children were elementary school age when we spent our first Thanksgiving with their grandparents in Missouri. They lived in a big brick house surrounded by 10 acres of rocky land on a rural road at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.

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My father-in-law had two ponds stocked with all kinds of fish. It was a memorable moment as I watched him assist the children with casting their line into the water and being instantly gratified by an unsuspecting "big one" as the fish latched onto their baited hook.

However, our youngest son, Jay, said his most poignant memory of that moment was a little different from mine. It was the fact that he had seen his grandpa feeding the fish with the same fish food that they were using to bait the hook that stood out in his mind.

There was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving in place of the traditional turkey and dressing did not go over very well with our children. I think it brought back memories of another Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard. Our three children were elementary school age when we spent our first Thanksgiving with their grandparents in Missouri....He remembered feeling sorry for the unsuspecting fish as they hungrily devoured their daily meal from the end of a deadly hook without even realizing that they soon would end up being someone’s lunch.

The 10 acres their grandpa owned wasn’t a real farm, but it had the atmosphere of farm life, with the big barn behind the house and chickens constantly pecking on the ground.

In addition to the faithful dogs and stray cats, dropped off in their yard, they had rabbits–not your ordinary eastern cottontail. These were big beautiful, weighty rabbits with lush, shiny coats and curious twitchy noses that sniffed at your fingers when you pushed them through the mesh walls that housed them high off the ground.

They were bigger than any rabbits I have ever seen. The children loved going out to the barn and wading through rabbit pellets to stroke their thick fur and poke carrots through the holes.

Our arrival was a few days before Thanksgiving, and the kids were ecstatic to see their grandparents. They spent their days fishing with their grandpa, exploring the fields, and petting the rabbits.

The evening before Thanksgiving, I noticed our youngest son nosing around in the big kitchen. His curious eyes were searching for something that obviously wasn’t there. Finally, he said, “Mom, where is the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow?” We had asked earlier if we needed to go to the store for the turkey and fixings for the next day’s family dinner, but they had told us not to worry, it was all under control.

I told my son that his grandma probably had the turkey in the refrigerator. Later, when he could get away with it, he sneaked into the kitchen and peeked into the fridge to check it out.

As he slid close beside me on the couch, he tugged on my shoulder to share his secret information.“There is no turkey in the refrigerator,” he whispered.

Tucking him in bed that night, he asked me how we could have a real Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow if Grandma weren’t thawing out the turkey, as I did every year. As I was helping his grandma clean up the dishes, I offered to do whatever I could to get ready for the next day’s dinner, but once again, she said no, she had it under control.

The next morning Jay was the first one up as he scurried into the kitchen with his thick white socks and flannel pajamas. No longer able to control his curiosity and concern, he blurted out, “Grandma, where is the turkey?”

She replied, “Don’t worry, it’s coming.” So, we assumed one of the older children were bringing the turkey when they arrived. After breakfast, my mother in law disappeared out the back door. The older children were beginning to arrive, but no one had a turkey.

All the children were playing together and didn’t notice when grandma came back inside with a massive pan of clean sliced meat. I watched as she heated the large cast iron pot and suddenly realized what we were having for dinner–rabbit.

When the children came in and smelled the meat and all the other trimmings, they said, “Wow, grandma, everything smells good!” But then our son looked through the glass oven door and then the pan on the stove and said, “Where’s the turkey, Grandma?” She replied, “We’re not having turkey, we’re having rabbit!”

There was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving in place of the traditional turkey and dressing did not go over very well with our children. I think it brought back memories of another Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard. Our three children were elementary school age when we spent our first Thanksgiving with their grandparents in Missouri....

Jay turned to his sister and brother, and the three of them ran out of the back door. Sure enough, the biggest rabbits had been slaughtered and prepared for dinner. It did not help when their grandma explained that she raised the rabbit for meat.

The children had eaten game meat before. Their dad was a deer hunter, and our freezer was filled with deer meat. However, they had never petted or played with the deer before they became dinner.

We quietly explain to our children that this was their tradition, and we would enjoy it with them. They ate everything on their plates, except the rabbit, and liked it. Of course, we didn’t adopt the tradition, but it was an interesting experience. One that our children have never forgotten.

So when our daughter announced that we should have a different kind of Thanksgiving dinner, our son said no, he would go buy a turkey.

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Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

Deana Landers has had many roles in life — Pastor’s Wife , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer and Motivational Speaker ... more