Thanksgiving at Centre
RELEASED: Nov. 23, 2005
An e-mail was sent to the entire Centre community with a request to share Thanksgiving anecdotes or traditions. The response was TREMENDOUS, varied, and interesting…read on:
DANVILLE, KYJulie James, visiting instructor of Spanish:
Patrice, Amanda (daughter) and I usually go to our friend's house in Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) for Thanksgiving. Our friend, Christine, is the daughter of a Japanese immigrant to the U.S., and our Thanksgiving dinner usually consists of a traditional meal of Japanese Sukyaki that we share with friends from the D.C. area. We all kneel on the floor around a low table placed in the middle of her living room and eat with chopsticks from rice bowls.
Patrice Mothion, associate professor of French:
I think my wife (Julie James) already answered you about our non-traditional Thanksgiving. If I may, I would like to add that we do not really enjoy the traditional turkey meal, so we try to avoid it as much as possible because we do not see the ratio of extra work/pleasure as being too favorable. Once, we went to a Turkish restaurant. It makes sense on turkey day, doesn't it?
Jane Joyce, Luellen Professor of Literature:
When I was growing up in East Tennessee, my family always went for a cookout in a state park in the mountains (Backbone Ridge, Va., was a favorite). My father was a wizard at the grill, my mother collected bright leaves and dried flowers for a centerpiece, my brother and I fed the ducks and ran wild. Of course, the place was deserted. It was always cold but always magical.
Glenda Beaven, executive secretary for administrative services:
I used to work in Lexington (Ky.) for one of the larger real estate companies. Each Thanksgiving we would divide up into groups and adopt a family. We would go shopping as a group and get all the fixings for their Thanksgiving meal; the company paid for everything. We just did the shopping and turned in receipts. We would then deliver the meal to the family. Going in and seeing these families, and what they did not have and how appreciative they were was the most wonderful thing. It really made you stop and think about what we take for granted. The kids' faces were so filled with joy and excitement just over being able to have a turkey for Thanksgiving. We usually tried to get something special for the kids, like a small toy or candy. Their appreciation was overwhelming. I really missed that when I left the company.
Beth Glazier-McDonald, Stodghill Professor of Religion:
Ironically, none of us like turkey, but we do like tradition. Therefore, every year without fail, I cook turkey with all the trimmings—stuffing, twice-baked potatoes, several different vegetables, home-made whole-berry cranberry sauce and at least two desserts. And every year, the trimmings are demolished and the turkey remains untouched!
Phyllis Bellver, assistant professor of Spanish (with the study-abroad program in Merida, Mexico):
We do pretty generic Thanksgivings in my family, which is comforting but not too exciting. This Thanksgiving I'll be giving a talk at University Modelo on the Basque language here in Merida in the Yucatan, since it's not a holiday down here!
Mona Wyatt, associate director of development for donor relations and parent programs:
We all gather at my parents' house in Owensboro.
Mom always makes the children pat the turkey before he goes in. This freaks some of the kids out when they actually realize what we're eating. When we ate at noon (we've moved it back to the evening now), Mom would cook the turkey and we would smell it all night. She would get up at all hours to baste it and finally to take it out early in the morning.
For years, we all loved watching my grandmothers make the dressing. They worked together tossing stuff into a bowl, each one adding a pinch of this and a bit of that until they had this brownish, nasty-looking mixture. They made fresh cornbread the day before to add to it and sometimes it seems that anything was fair game to go into the dressing. No recipe—and it was always wonderful. Then they would good-naturedly fuss over who would get to wash the dishes. They are both gone now and the dressing has never tasted quite the same, and I'm the one fussing with my mom to wash the dishes.
My sister and I also have a running argument over whether or not to add marshmallows to the fruit salad. We usually help mom to cut it all up—I'm a purist, but my sister loves the little fluffy things, so we end up tossing them at each other and sometimes a few marshmallows actually get into the fruit salad.
Once in a while mom tries to add a new dish—and it never works out. The menu has varied very little in all the years I remember (though Mom does admit now that the first year she had to cook her own Thanksgiving meal, when we couldn't come to Danville to eat with my grandparents, she cooked a chicken and told us it was a turkey. I was only nine—what did I know!).
We still have dressing in honor of the grandmothers; a good friend who used to come and bring her cranberry relish is gone now but we continue to make that cranberry relish recipe in her memory. One corner of the oyster casserole has to have no oysters in for my sister, who likes the crackers. Coffee has to be four times stronger than the average human would make it for my brother. We all voted out frozen pumpkins pies years ago in favor of my mom's homemade, and we always have Burkes Bakery rolls from Danville.
We play the same background music—the Andre Kostelanetz Christmas album that we played when we were little. We watch the Macy's parade in-between cooking and we hit the Christmas sales the next day, mall traffic being no deterrent.
Mom puts three turkey candles on the table that our friend (the cranberry relish one) gave us when we were small—over 40 years ago. It's all about the food, the friends, and the family and the memories that come from them.
Kimberly Hughes, head field hockey coach:
I am from Australia, and all of my family still lives there. Because of this I do not have any family traditions. For the first year I was in America I celebrated Thanksgiving in my dorm room with others who did not get to go home. The last three years I have attended the National Field Hockey Festival held either in Florida or California and will be doing so again this year.
Nayef Samhat, Hower Associate Professor of Government and International Studies:
We all (the whole family) watch the Detroit Lions play football, then we eat like stuffed turkeys for several hours, then we watch Dallas play football—by which time we are on the couch, full and tired (from the turkey), and then we have a wonderful array of desserts. All the while, talking and laughing.
Not too exciting, perhaps, but some of the best holiday fun of the year
Judy Cummins, assistant to the controller:
Our whole family gathers at either my house or my sister's for the Thanksgiving feast.
We have the traditional meal, turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn pudding, cranberry sauce, tossed salad, broccoli casserole, sweet potato casserole, mixed vegetable casserole, dressed eggs, lots of salads and several desserts. One of the desserts is always a chocolate pudding torte and pumpkin pie along with other choices. The one item that may be a little unusual is we always have dumplings. This has always been one of the children's favorites and also one of mine. For those who are not familiar with dumplings, it is a dough that is rolled thin and dropped in turkey broth and allowed to simmer until done. There is definitely an art to making dumplings and not everyone is accomplished at it. I had a very dear aunt who has left us for a better place, and she made wonderful dumplings. We have all tried to duplicate her recipe but none can compare. Of course, we still have dumplings and they always remind me of a wonderful aunt who was like my second mother; they are good but not quite as good as the ones she prepared.
Carrie Frey, interlibrary loan supervisor:
Every Thanksgiving, we gather at my grandmother's house for dinner. In the evening, Santa Claus "appears" and knocks on the windows so that the young children can see him. He walks around the house several times to look in each window so that the kids can get a good look at him and shout out what they would like for Christmas. Santa then throws in a bag of goodies for the kids. This is a tradition that began when my grandfather was a young child and has continued on so that now a fifth generation of children are enjoying the tradition. It is fun to see the faces of the children light up as they run to see Santa.
Barbara Hall, Stodghill Professor of Music:
My family—at least in our earlier years when I was still living at home or in college—always used to have jao tse or Chinese pork dumplings for Thanksgiving (and fried up the next day for a terrific breakfast). It took all hands at work to make the several hundred dumplings and fold them into the skins, which had to be decoratively crimped around the edges. My father grew up in China and then worked for many years in Taiwan where I lived until returning to this country for high school. We started the dumpling tradition in Taipei and just continued it back in the States. I would add that the dinner table conversation was just as likely to be in Chinese among my father and his siblings as it was in English. But when it came for dessert, pumpkin and mince meat pies were the rule.
Deb Jones, director of career services:
When I lived in Pennsylvania, a bunch of us who boarded horses together would share the barn chores, then go riding, then we'd go to one of the boarders' houses for Thanksgiving dinner. Wasn't with my family but that was always fun. I really enjoyed our Thanksgiving chores and ride time together.
Jay Hoffman, head women's soccer coach:
A custom we have at the Hoffman house is to use one tablecloth over and over for each Thanksgiving. However, every year you have to sign the tablecloth and list something you are thankful for. Needless to say, the cloth is a wonderful time line and it includes many of wonderful thoughts from family members who have passed away.
Barbara Romine, associate professor of education:
After everyone is seated at the table, we go around and each person tells what they have to be thankful for since we were together the previous Thanksgiving. I believe many people have this tradition. Many members of my family also help out at the local shelter or food pantry.
Jessica R. Chisley, assistant women's soccer coach:
My family is spread between two states—Georgia and Kentucky. For Thanksgiving it is a tradition to rotate which family hosts the dinner so that one family doesn't have to travel every year to another state. This year, its our turn to host so our family in Georgia will be coming here to spend the holiday with us.
Amos Tubb, assistant professor of history:
In my family we have very large Thanksgiving dinners with friends—it is usually not just a family affair but an opportunity to meet and spend time with friends as well. Dinners with 20 or more people were common.
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