Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Memories


By Anita Clenney

As a child, I lived near several aunts and uncles, so cousins were plentiful. Most of the men, and a couple of aunts, are hunters, and had been going to the same hunting spot for decades. This has been a tradition in my family going back to before I was born.

Since Thanksgiving coincides with hunting season, and the men had a limited time off from work, they would usually go hunting, sometimes spending the holiday weekend in order to load up the freezer with venison. This meant they missed Thanksgiving dinner, but was it ever a blast for the kids! All the women and kids had a big sleepover. After a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, we stayed up late, the women gossiping and making fudge and cookies while the kids played and tried to eavesdrop on the gossip. The men would come home and enjoy the Thanksgiving leftovers before they started butchering the deer. Sounds like something from another century, right? Kind of matches the picture, and we are part Cherokee, although you can't tell it by looking at me. Now my paternal grandmother, she looked just like Geronimo. But we always had plenty of meat and lots of fun, even though we didn't have much money.

Now that I'm grown and married, we celebrate Thanksgiving at my parents or my husband's grandmother's house. Unfortunately, his grandmother passed away in February so the official dinner will be at his aunt's house instead, but there will be wonderful food and fond memories to be shared. His grandmother was the most incredible lady, full of energy and zest right up until a couple of weeks before she died. Her second husband flew Air Force One so she had lots of stories and lots of friends around Washington. She had her bridge parties, her weekly visits to the hair and nail salon, drove like a Nascar driver, and managed the family like a true matriarch. She lived life fully and lived it well. I hope to have that much energy when I'm her age. Actually, I'd like to have it now.

Then, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, we're going to my parents' for an after Thanksgiving dinner because my father, brother, and nephew will be hunting. But why stop at two dinners? I was craving turkey this past weekend so I cooked a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. I feel kind of like I cheated, but it was yummy. I think I've gained weight already just thinking about all the good food I have and will consume this holiday. Exercise anyone? Truly, does anyone know any really good diets?

26 comments:

  1. I know a great diet, though I haven't been on it full time for a while. It's called do what you love and your weight be be what it's supposed to be. I have yet to see the book about this, but I am CERTAIN there will be all sorts of scientific data generated to support the thesis that when you're happy, it's a lot easier for you to have a healthy metabolism.

    I'm getting back on this diet a little bit at a time, every day when I sit down to write or take my characters with me on a ramble through the woods. Honest.

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  2. That sounds like a wonderful tradition you had, Anita. I know some people who eat Thanksgiving early in their hunting gear and get up to go right after the pumpkin pie is cut. They take it on the road. These are the people I used to get my elk and moose steak from.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  3. I like your diet, Grace. They do say stress makes us gain weight. I heard something frightening on the radio yesterday. If a woman is over 40 she'll have to exercise one hour a day to KEEP her weight where it is. Yikes! No wonder I'm gaining.

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  4. I've never tried elk or moose steak. Is it good? I ate squirrel once, but it was a long time ago and I don't remember what it tasted like. Actually, I could very easily become a vegetarian. I just don't like meat that much. I love side dishes and desserts and junk food.

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  5. Sounds like you had fun, and having turkey early? Great idea! It's good for you! Now, the gravy... but who couldn't eat turkey without gravy?
    Have a great 'nother turkey day!!!

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  6. D-I-E-T is a four letter word and should never be spoken in mixed company. It may even be censored in erotic books so shhhhh! I grew up with hunters in the family, too. They came in from the woods in time to eat dinner in all their camo gear and went right back as soon as they finished eating.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  7. LOL! Did your grandmother really ENJOY being compared to Geronimo? Would love to see pictures!

    Whoa! That IS a frightening statistic, Anita. I exercise about once every five years. Add that to the fact that I tend to eat my stress, it's no wonder that I keep growing and growing and growing....

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  8. The diet that works for me is don't eat cookies and run 3 days a week. The problem is when you have a sick kid, you can't get out and run, and then you need cookies to get through the late nights and crying. So, um, no. I don't know a diet that works!

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  9. Forget Thanksgiving, Anita. I want to hear more about the man who flew Air Force One! Now there lies some stories I want to read! Spill it all!
    Amelia

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  10. Terry, true turkey is healthy. I can do it without the gravy, but I love cranberry sauce. My sister in law makes a cranberry salad that is great. I should've gotten her recipe and posted it.

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  11. Carolyn, good to know others can relate, on the hunting and the D-I-E-T!

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  12. Cheryl, my grandmother had no idea that I thought she looked like Geronimo. She passed away about 20 years ago, bless her heart, but she was not a looker. She wasn't very grandmotherly either, but I have some fond memories of her. She loved quilting, and she used the old scraps. She would let my cousin and me go through her scrap bag to get pieces so we could make clothes for our Barbies.It's one of those memories that will stick with me forever.

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  13. Shana, I so admire people who run. I'm not a runner, but I really should start walking. I live in the perfect place to walk. If I just walked for an hour after I put the kids on the bus, I'd probably feel and look a lot better.

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  14. Amelia, I didn't hear many stories myself. She said she wanted to write a book. She was thrilled when I sold, and was starting to think seriously about writing just before she died. Her family history would've been at least as interesting as the Air Force One stories. Her husband flew for Nixon and another President, I think. She had lots of fascinating things in her house from other countries, like a Samuri sword. Apparently, when the President would recieve gifts from other countries, he would keep some and divy out the others. Her husband got several things.

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  15. Your mention of venison gave me the shudders. My dad, who wasn't exactly Mr. Child Psychology, made a Bambi "joke" at the table one night when we were eating venison for dinner. My sisters and I haven't eaten venison since.

    Diet wise, I don't deny myself anything, but I keep to reasonable portion sizes. (Exercise is tough due to some old gymnastics injuries and a chronic pain condition.) I'm one of those annoying people who can eat 3 potato chips or 8 M & M's, and then put away the bag. ;-)

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  16. I vow that calories don't count during holidays! :)

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  17. I agree with Catherine. No thoughts of dieting until January 1st. The it's time to make that yearly New Year's Resolution that I'm sure to break by January 5th.

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  18. I'm an exercise nut and have been for years. I drive DH nuts because I workout the day before Thanksgiving but I don't hold back on Turkey day. I truly gobble gobble:) And I am a Texan so I know all about the boys going hunting!:)Enjoy your holiday.

    And Anita I believe the hour a day. Since I passed 40 I've had to double my cardio and it really really stinks. BUT I listen to audio books and that helps so much. I get my book fix and that often makes me forget the pain. I highly recommend a good audio book to lessen the torture!

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  19. We had the hunters on Thanksgiving thing going on several sides of my family. Our solution was to have dinner at three or four o'clock.

    The men would come in smelling of forests and fallow fields and fired guns. They had to don dress shirts and ties to sit at the table, even if they still wore camo pants.

    As for diets. I've observed the thick and the thin for a lot of years now, and the truth is the thin don't eat much and/or they obsess about every bite.

    I see it this way: If they don't care that much about food so don't eat much, they're fine. They're not missing anything they want.

    If they obsess about every bite, and that keeps them thin, well, okay. I guess it's working and they're getting some payoff.

    But worrying about dieting and weight gain, and never having it pay off? Looking back, I truly regret every second I ever spent fearing gaining, or trying to lose.

    Grace's happiness diet is the only one that makes much sense to me.

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  20. Oh Tamara, sorry for the shudders. That would leave a bad memory for a child. I'm okay with the taste of venison, but don't love it. I wish I did since it's so much healthier than beef. Although, I'm not that big on meat anyway.

    Good for you that you can stick to portions. I tend to get carried away.

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  21. Catherine and Olivia, I like your way of thinking. Calories shouldn't count during the holidays. It should be like a Christmas gift or something. Eat all you want.

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  22. Lisa, I wish I was that disiplined. I really do have to do something. Since I started writing, I've put on pounds. I don't like to exercise, but I think I have to start. I've often thought that I'll walk in the mornings after I get the kids on the bus and I can take my digital voice recorder and plot. But I have to DO IT instead of thinking about doing it!

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  23. I love it, Mary Margret. Camo pants and dress shirts. Yeah! Weight issues are a real problem, and I think you either have to commit or make peace with your size. I'm not feeling too peaceful about my extra padding, so I think I'll have to cut back on eating and start moving. Heck, I could probably even do just one or the other and see some results.

    One of my agent's other clients said she lost weight (about 70 lbs I think) by just controlling portions, like Tamara said. This girl said she ate whatever foods she normally ate, but was strict about the portion size. She's kept the weight off for some time.

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  24. So sorry to hear about hubby's grandmother. It sounds like she had a wonderful life.

    Considering my post yesterday about my turkey-aversion, I'm shuddering at the thought of all those T'giving meals! (But I'm with Catherine...calories shouldn't count on holidays!)

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  25. What wonderful traditions, Anita! I have a vow to never think about dieting during the holidays. :}

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  26. I adored the childhood recollections of the holiday. I think it's the memories that stay with us as kids that dictate how we approach holidays as adults.
    As for exercise...I've been doing the "Insanity" dvd set. It's appropriately named. I look like I've been swimming when I'm done...sweat buckets but it's great. Now I run 5x a week--usually 3-4 miles a clip. I love the solitude.

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