Thanksgiving isn’t always like a Hallmark movie. Just like any other day, things don’t go as smoothly as you imagined. There are some missteps, even disasters, that you’d just as soon forget. As the years go by, however, these tales become funnier or more poignant and are eventually woven into our family stories.

Isn’t it great that we get a do-over every year on the fourth Thursday of November?

One Thanksgiving I remember, I was once again stressed out as I attempted to put together the perfect dinner. The food was nearly ready, the table was beautifully set, and it was time to change before my guests arrived.

When I returned to the dining room to admire the table and light the candles, I noticed the crystal butter dish was empty. I was positive I had put a stick of butter in that dish.

Or did I?

Thinking I was just overtired, I retrieved more butter then called our little dog, Bosco. I wanted him to go out to do his business before we sat down for dinner. But even after I called him three times, he didn’t come running. So I went to find him.

He was in his bed. With a stick of butter between his paws.

As you can imagine, he was reluctant to let go of his treat. But what struck me most about the situation was that he would have had to stand in the middle of that big table to get to the butter. Yet there wasn’t a bit of evidence.

Even so, the china and crystal, especially the butter dish, were hurriedly washed. The tablecloth was changed.

And Bosco was banned to the naughty room for the duration of the day.

The stress of that last-minute rush to clean up and put everything back in order is a thing of the past, and the story is now a humorous part of our family history.

In similar fashion, Sun Journal readers agreed to share their memorable turkey days, including some tales about family traditions and others about gatherings that could have gone better. These stories leave me with the thought that when things do go smoothly, let’s just be thankful!


Claire Gosselin of Lewiston will never forget a pet who plundered the Thanksgiving dinner table, in plain sight.

One Thanksgiving, Petit Gris, a little gray cat who was usually quite well-behaved and quiet, made up his mind to take part in the big meal. “The huge turkey was most appealing in looks and smell and was placed in a central position on the table. Petit Gris silently eyed the beautiful, odiferous turkey. When the meal preparations began to have much last-minute hustle and bustle, no one took any notice of Petit Gris and he saw his chance. He jumped up on the table, grabbed a huge drumstick with his mouth, leaped down, and dragged it into the front parlor.”

The family was dumbfounded as they watched their normally well-behaved kitty help himself.


Steve Hoad of Windsor shared how on one Thanksgiving Eve, their home’s malfunctioning heating system served up a chilly holiday memory.

“The furnace made a loud bang! The technician responded quickly and replaced a part that wasn’t working quite right.

“The following day, the house was warm and full of children and grandchildren while the wind was blowing at 40 mph outside. Unfortunately, the furnace gave out another loud bang. A different technician responded quickly and reset it.

“The turkey smelled great and the crowd was happy, then the third bang happened. This time, it felt like the house lifted a bit. Out into the wind we all went, keeping warm in our cars while the fire department checked things out. Everything seemed OK and they thanked us for the morning distraction, then left.

“We didn’t turn the furnace back on; we figured it was shot. We had a few electric heaters to keep us warm (that eventually cost us quite a bundle until the new furnace was installed a couple of weeks later).

“All in all, the dinner was delicious, the family was happy, and things went surprisingly well despite the overstimulation of the almost-disaster.”


Beth Voter of Mexico got a shock one Thanksgiving when she put the glass baking dish full of scalloped potatoes in the oven at her mom’s house. “The dish of potatoes exploded in the oven and there were potatoes and pieces of glass all over!”

Luckily, Mom had more potatoes on hand and a substitute side dish was quickly made.


Marilyn Armstrong of Wiscasset has a story that offers a good excuse for eating dessert first.

“Uncle Fred Whittier Jr. and his wife, Cora, invited their three daughters and their husbands to their home to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner together. They planned to eat about 1 p.m., but when one of the women opened the oven door to check on the bird about 11:30 a.m., to her surprise the oven was cold. The three daughters thought their mother had turned on the oven and their mother thought one of her daughters had taken care of that important task.”

Marilyn wrote, “They had all eaten a light breakfast so they would have a good appetite for a big Thanksgiving dinner. Being so hungry, they decided to eat dessert at 12:30 and have their dinner at 5 p.m. because the turkey wouldn’t be done until then.”

She concluded, “This story has been told over three generations for years.”


Barbara St. Jean of Lewiston has childhood memories of Thanksgiving in Pittsfield, where things actually went as planned.

“My grandmother, mother, and all the aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered at my grandmother’s small three-bedroom house.

“Everyone would bring something, but all I cared about was the mincemeat pie Aunt Claire would bring. It was just glorious! Claire’s husband, Uncle LeVere, always got a deer back in those days, and Claire would use the venison for her mincemeat.

“There were always pumpkin and apple pies as well, but that mincemeat pie would call my name, and it still does! My grandmother made it a point to only have what she imagined the pilgrims ate, and to this day, it’s the same.

“These days, it’s almost impossible to find real mincemeat, but I’ve been able to find the real thing at Nezinscot Farm in Turner.

“I’m forever grateful for growing up the way we did. We had no cares in the world. As long as we could play outside and ride our bikes, life was good — especially at Thanksgiving when we were all together!”


Marty Corey, an 80-year-old grandmother from Poland, shared an activity that produced a Thanksgiving memento to cherish for the ages.

She fondly remembers her two grandsons used colored Sharpies to trace around their hands on the white Thanksgiving tablecloth every year. They then wrote in the date and what they were thankful for.

“They needed help when they were little, but over the years we enjoyed seeing how much their hands had grown. My grandsons are now 27 and 31, and I gave the tablecloth to one of my daughters about eight years ago. Our kids and grandchildren grow up all too quickly.”


As you gather this coming Thursday, my hope is that you’ll spend some time reminiscing about past Thanksgivings and enjoy making some new memories, too!

Writer and editor Karen Schneider has been a regular contributor to the Lewiston Sun Journal for over 25 years. You can contact her at [email protected]

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