Thanksgiving Turkey Day
Last Thanksgiving, my aunt threw the most wonderful holiday dinner. It was great for the adults and kids and so chalk full of food and fun that I can't wait to see what she has up her sleeve this year. Last year she dubbed Thanksgiving, “Turkey Day,” and I'd love to share the details with you.
When my family and I entered my aunt's house, it smelled incredible. She had placed pumpkin spice candles everywhere and they made the house feel comfortable and inviting. Their glow warmed the house and illuminated the many decorative touches around the family, living and dining rooms. There were turkeys everywhere! Small stuffed animal turkeys, tin turkeys, paper turkeys with round tissue papered belly's, painted turkeys and cute pinecone turkeys (with googly eyes, felt beaks and wattles, and pipe cleaner tails) that her children and now grandchildren had made over the years.
My aunt set up a table in the family room for a special holiday craft the kids could make and take home – a colorful turkey sun catcher. With brown tempura paint I painted the bottom of my son's bare foot and helped him stamp his footprint on a piece of brown construction paper. While that dried, he cut out a bunch of feather shapes from red, orange and yellow tissue paper and I cut out a brown paper turkey plumage outline that had about a ½ inch border. We put a piece of plastic wrap on our work surface and using our plumage outline as a guide, brushed on a mixture of 2 parts glue and 1 part water to the plastic wrap. Then my son randomly placed his tissue feathers on the sticky surface, brushed more of the glue mixture on the tissue and placed the plumage outline on the feathers. We let the glue dry completely, then gently pulled away the plastic wrap. I trimmed any tissue paper that was poking out of the plumage. Lastly, I cut out my son's footprint and he glued it to the middle of the plumage (heel side up, his toes were the turkey's feet.) He added googly eyes and a construction paper beak and wattle to the heel. It was beautiful (and my favorite holiday keepsake to date.) It looks incredible taped to a windowpane.
Next up was dinner. We sat down at a pretty dining room table decorated with a satin gold tablecloth, large white dinner plates with gold trim, delicate silverware, large water goblets and wine glasses and beige cotton napkins tied with gold and white ribbon. The centerpiece was a long shallow gold tin filled with red, white and yellow fall flowers that draped over the sides so as not to obstruct anyone's view across the table. And I almost forgot the most important element. Guests knew where to sit by finding their very own turkey gobbler place card. Let me explain…
My aunt used oranges and apples to begin with. She glued craft feathers together to make a turkey tail then glued the tail to a toothpick and stuck the toothpick into either an apple or orange. Using mini pinecones she bought at a craft store, she made the turkey's face – two googly eyes, a paper beak and wattle – and poked the pinecone into the fruit at the opposite end of the feathers. Then she wrote guests' names on small paper squares she glued to toothpicks and inserted each name into the top of the orange or apple. The turkeys looked delightful all around the table and added a bit of down home charm to an otherwise elegant table.
As usual, my aunt outdid herself with enough food to feed an army. It was the traditional Thanksgiving Day fare, but this year the meal began with a special soup harvested from all the guests. We were each asked to bring one ingredient to include in a family soup that would be eaten by all and symbolic of our affection for one another (my aunt started the soup with her own broth and spices.) My family and I brought carrots (one of the few vegetables my children will eat). Other family members brought zucchini, noodles, mushrooms, potatoes, chicken, anything they wanted to contribute to this one-of-a-kind soup. My aunt ladled out the soup into bowls and served it to everyone before the feast began. It was delicious and even the kids enjoyed it because they knew they had taken part in making it.
After dinner we all relaxed in the family room and played a game of “cold turkey.” This is a game my aunt came up with to encourage each of us to reflect on what we are thankful for. While we are talking, watching television, or playing board games, my aunt yells out cold turkey. At that moment we have to stop whatever it is we are doing and take a moment to think about how lucky we are. My aunt will yell this out several times during the evening and believe it or not, we all freeze when we hear it – even the kids. We end our Thanksgiving dinner every year this way and when the evening is finally over, we all yell thank you to my aunt.