My first memory of Thanksgiving was the year I ate turkey three times, once at my aunt’s, (which was okay, she wasn’t much of a cook so I didn’t overeat), once at my grandmother’s, (which was unfortunate because she was a fantastic cook and I ate too much), and finally at home where I looked at my mother’s perfect meal and almost threw up. I was five and had, as my dad said, “A hole in my toe,” meaning I ate like a horse despite being thin as a minute and small for my age.
It came about because Mom was trying to make everybody happy. She didn’t want to hurt my aunt’s feelings by not going to her house for Thanksgiving, and what woman in her right mind wants to tick off her mother-in-law? Dad, bless him, figured it would be all right, because after all, can you get too much turkey on Thanksgiving?
My aunt (Mom’s sister), liked to have Thanksgiving early so we ate at her house about one o’clock. Grandma had mid afternoon Thanksgiving meals so at about three o’clock we were tucking into a feast of turkey and all the trimmings: dressing, cranberry sauce, three kinds of vegetables including yummy sweet potatoes with mounds of marshmallows on top, two kinds of jello salad, pies and cakes up the wazoo and fruit salad with real whipped cream. It was heaven.
And then we got home and had to do it all over again. I mean, really, I didn’t want to hurt Mom’s feelings by not eating her meal, prepared with loving hands. So despite messages my brain was sending to my stomach that I’d had enough, I dug in with gusto.
It turns out you can have too much turkey on Thanksgiving.
This essay is a reprint from an e-zine I published once upon a time. Happy Thanksgiving