A Different Kind of Turkey Dinner

When we all met in St. Augustin, Florida, to celebrate Thanksgiving, there was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving did not go over very well with our children. It brought back memories of a traumatic Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard long ago.

When we all met in St. Augustin, Florida, to celebrate Thanksgiving, there was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving did not go over very well with our children. It brought back memories of a traumatic Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard long ago. Our three children were in elementary school when we spent our first Thanksgiving with...

Our three children were in elementary school 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 Ozark Mountain’s foothills.

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

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

When we all met in St. Augustin, Florida, to celebrate Thanksgiving, there was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving did not go over very well with our children. It brought back memories of a traumatic Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard long ago. Our three children were in elementary school when we spent our first Thanksgiving with...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 or dinner.

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 giant 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 more significant 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 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 an authentic Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow if Grandma weren’t thawing out the turkey, as I did every year. As I helped 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.

He was the first one up the following day as he hurried into the kitchen with 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 was bringing the turkey when they arrived. After breakfast, my mother-in-law disappeared out the back door. The older children were beginning to come, but no one had a turkey.

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

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 don’t have turkey. We have a rabbit!”

When we all met in St. Augustin, Florida, to celebrate Thanksgiving, there was a reason why suggesting a clambake for Thanksgiving did not go over very well with our children. It brought back memories of a traumatic Thanksgiving meal that caught them off guard long ago. Our three children were in elementary school when we spent our first Thanksgiving with...

Jay turned to his sister and brother, and the three ran out of the back door. Sure enough, the biggest rabbits had been slaughtered and prepared for dinner. Of course, 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, filling our freezer with deer meat yearly. However, they had never petted or played with the deer before they became dinner.

We quietly explained 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 exciting experience. One that our children have never forgotten.

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


Author's Image
Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

[Read full bio]