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Diary of a family’s Thanksgiving dinner preparations

By Edward A. Forbes

The Bulletin

The battle plans are drawn.

Tasks are allocated; lists are made; and contributions are acknowledged.

My two adult children and myself - three households - each have a list of items to provide for our “traditional” Thanksgiving.

Chanie, daughter and eldest child, is command central. We are making lists and assignments as we discuss what we will have for our Thanksgiving meal.

Chanie asks, “How many turkeys did we have last year?”

Wes, her younger brother, answers, “Last year we had three.”

Me, doting parent and eldest by a mile, replies, “Are you sure? I thought we had two.”

After much discussion, involving terms like dementia, Alzheimer’s and senioritis, it is agreed that we did indeed have three turkeys. Two were cooked in roasting pans, and one was fried.

What we didn’t have, for some reason, was a ham. This year, we will have a ham as I bought two on sale earlier. I have a small turkey (10-pounder gifted to me) in the freezer, and Wes has a similar one in his freezer for frying. I am now delegated to purchase a 15-18 pounder. Step one completed - it’s time to proceed.

Chanie has broccoli, cheese and rice casserole, macaroni and cheese, apple pie cheesecake bars and dinner rolls, on her agenda. Wes and his wife, Brisa, have mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and a fried turkey on their list.

I have two pumpkin pies, strawberry-banana Jello with cream cheese and sliced strawberries, ham, dressing, giblet gravy and two turkeys on my list.

My readers, if you are concerned about us starving, fear not. All sides are prepared in the large roasting pans. We cook for a four-day siege.

Some of these items are prepared in advance, but the remainder are prepared in my relatively small kitchen in a communal atmosphere. We really enjoy the kitchen comradery and the jockeying for a burner on the stove or oven space.

I have two roasters for my turkeys, a smoker for the ham and two six-quart slow cookers to keep some items warm. The kitchen will be Thanksgiving Day headquarters.

We currently have two grandchildren who may function as assistants during the preparation, but their participation is somehow linked to the phase of the moon or some other extraterrestrial force. We accept help if it appears.

The normal sequence of events we enjoy begins with a prayer of thanks. Then we eat, a brief tryptophan-augmented nap follows, and we clean up a little and break out some old board games for the adults and the oldest grandchildren - if they haven’t succumbed to the siren’s call of their video games.

During the course of the evening, we will acknowledge family members no longer with us and make a few phone calls to those who are.

Maybe the kicked-back, relaxed atmosphere is why there is seldom any bickering. We truly enjoy our time together and have learned not to take it for granted. This will be our second Thanksgiving Day without the kids’ mother, Renee Dowden, and uncle, Dr. Charles Bownds.

To everyone else, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

(Email Forbes at at or send comments to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)


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