The Best Thanksgiving Ever

As I am about to set the table for this year’s big feast, I am once again reminded of the one Thanksgiving that sticks out in my memory as significant. The Hubs and I dust off the story every year, and the telling of it is usually preceded by one of us asking the other, “Do you remember our worst Thanksgiving ever?”

I even recounted every detail in a blog post last year entitled…yep, “The Worst Thanksgiving Ever!” After I hit publish, I told him what I’d done, and we relived each minute of that day again. And then, like every year since, we laugh and go back to “the best part”, and laugh again.

So now, as I’m getting ready to re-publish the story, I’m wondering if it was really the worst Thanksgiving ever, why do we revisit it every year? Why do we tell the story over and over again if it was so horrible? Why do we laugh the whole way through the retelling? Why do we clink our glasses together in celebration if it doesn’t rank up there as one of the best memories of our marriage?

I think it’s time for a title change…


The Worst Best Thanksgiving Ever

Every Thanksgiving as we sit around the table enjoying the turkey and all the trimmings, the Hubs and I reflect on the day. One of us will inevitably say, “Well, at least it wasn’t the worst Thanksgiving ever.” Then we’ll chuckle and smile and share the story all over again.


This is NOT the perfect turkey I expected to find on my first Thanksgiving without family. (Photo source: Flickr, Sharon Mollerus, cc-by-2.0)

The Hubs was stationed with the Second Armor Division at Fort Hood, TX, that year. We had celebrated our first wedding anniversary in September, and the Older One was just three months old. This was our first Thanksgiving without family…at least without immediate blood relations.  The Army was our family now, so when the Hubs’ captain extended the invitation to join his wife and their two small children for a Thanksgiving lunch, we accepted.

We were just getting ready to leave our little apartment for the meal, when the phone rang.  I listened as the Hubs said a few “Yes, Sirs” into the phone. After hanging up, he told me our plans had changed. We would not be having a Thanksgiving lunch after all.

The captain’s wife had taken the turkey out of the freezer the night before, he said, and was baffled that the bird was still frozen when she got up that morning to start preparing it for our feast. The new plan called for football at the captain’s house while the turkey roasted, and instead of an early lunch, we’d eat mid-afternoon.

Mid-afternoon came and went. By 2:00, the bird was still frosty and hadn’t yet seen the inside of the oven.

The captain and the Hubs’ made a quick trip into post to visit with the enlisted soldiers during their holiday meal while the wife and I made small talk and snacked on half a box of stale crackers and overly sweet wine coolers. My baby napped, and I mentally calculated if I’d brought enough formula and diapers to get us through dinner…that is if we ever had dinner.

Around 4:00, the turkey finally made it into the oven. The Hubs and the captain returned, and we all waited.

Finally, at 7:00, the captain made the first slice into our Thanksgiving turkey only to find that the meat inside was raw. By then, the side dishes were growing cold, and we were all too frustrated to wait on the bird. The captain carved up a few of the cooked pieces and served the cranky kids while his wife finished off the raw pieces in the microwave.

The Hubs and I juggled our sleepy baby between us while we gnawed the rubbery poultry, and as soon as was socially acceptable, we made our escape.

We had survived the worst Thanksgiving ever and lived to tell the tale…over and over and over again for more than 20 years.  And over and over again we laugh at the mistake that set off that worst of the worst—a frozen turkey that someone didn’t know enough to take out of the freezer well in advance of the big day.

That someone was a young wife and mother, not much older than I was at the time. I imagine she was excited about the prospect of hosting her first Thanksgiving and about offering her hospitality to a young couple alone for the holiday.

She probably went to the commissary the day before full of anticipation about the recipes she would share with me. She probably spent more time than necessary selecting the perfect produce and agonized over how big that infamous bird should be. I imagine she was horrified the next morning to find it still as solid as it was the night before.

I’m pretty sure the reason we were not notified of the schedule change until it was too late for us to change our plans is because our hostess was busy praying to the culinary gods for some kind of Thanksgiving miracle to save the perfect day she had planned.

In her shoes, I would have been mortified to confess my cooking inadequacies to my guests. I would have repeatedly excused myself from the tense conversation with the lieutenant’s wife to check on the turkey, knowing I really just wanted to hide in the kitchen and cry.

I sincerely hope that captain’s wife looks back on that Thanksgiving and laughs like the Hubs and I do.  We may call it “Our Worst Thanksgiving Ever”, but if the worst thing that happens on Thanksgiving is a frozen turkey, I’d say we had it pretty good.

We had nowhere else to go, and no one to spend the holiday with until virtual strangers opened their home to us. That may actually be the best thing that has ever happened to us on Thanksgiving. We may not have had a perfectly prepared meal all those years ago, but we had a place to go for the holiday, and for that I am thankful.

Hopefully, that Thanksgiving didn’t prevent the captain’s wife from trying again the next year. I hope right now, she is preparing for this year’s feast with her grown children and maybe even some colleagues her husband met at the office.

I also hope she has remembered to take the turkey out of the freezer!

Picture It: Zombies

I killed 15 zombies last night.

Zombies Ahead

This has become a favorite pastime, and it’s not unusual to find the entire family joining forces to take out herds of the undead.

Zombies 5

It has become nightly entertainment with each of us trying to beat the body count of the others. The Hubs, of course, is leading in that effort.  He went on several solo missions when the Young One and I headed north to visit her grandparents. When we came home three days later, he eagerly showed us the carnage he had wrought. His best effort yielded 25 walkers.

Now, the Young One and I are trying to catch up.  Turns out she’s pretty handy with a cross bow, and I’m definitely the one you want with you in the tunnel. Still…even on my best night I’ve only been able to take out 16.

Oh, wait…did I forget to mention, I’m talking about pinball? There really is no zombie infestation in western OH.

Zombies 3

Some people buy appliances when they move into a new home. We opted for a Walking Dead pinball machine instead.

Zombies 6

It comes complete with growling walkers, a prison under siege and a tunnel to *gulp* Terminus.

Zombies 4

I was skeptical about the purchase until I actually played a few rounds. I have to admit nothing gets the adrenaline flowing quite like the computerized zombie hunting guide exclaiming, “Dude! His head just exploded!”

Everyone is invited to help thin the zombie herd. However, there’s just one rule when you step up to the newest toy in the house. Whatever you do…

Zombies 2

A Handful of Thankfuls

Thanksgiving week is finally here! The turkey is thawing in the fridge. The menu is planned. The wine is chilling, and the pantry is fully stocked. Aside from actually roasting the bird and baking the pies, I think I’m ready for the big day.

The only thing left to do is actually take some time to reflect on those things that rise to the top of my “Forever Thankful For” list. I could throw down a top 100 list like I did last year, but the 2.0 version probably wouldn’t be that much different from the original. So this year, I’m going to keep my thankfuls to a handful of things I couldn’t do without.

I am Forever Thankful For:

My Family. So many things changed for me over the past six months, but the most important thing has stayed the same. The Hubs is still right by my side. My kids still keep me smiling. My pups still make me laugh. My parents still support me in whatever endeavor I pursue, and my MIL still fills in when she’s needed. It’s this unconditional love that reminds me where we put our roots doesn’t matter nearly as much as who our roots are connected to.

My Job. Even though I had to move my home this year, I didn’t have to move my job. Moving and starting a new job both make the list of most stressful life events. As the trailing spouse, I’ve had to do both at the same on several occasions. Doubling up on top stressers again is really not on my bucket list, so I am grateful to have an employer that embraces a virtual and flexible workforce.

My GPS. Siri and I have a classic love/hate relationship, but I honestly don’t know how I did the moving-to-a-new-city thing without my favorite computerized girl giving me turn by turn directions.

My Pinterest Boards. Without this social media marvel to keep me organized and inspired, the Young One would not have had a rock star birthday or a Hermione Halloween costume. My St. Patrick’s Day party might have featured green beer instead of craft beer, and I might have lost that link to “Moving Day Made Easy”. I frequently called on Pinterest this year to help make everything seem effortless. It’s always nice to have someone else do the hard parts for you.

My Blog. I pushed it aside for several months, but I have come to realize over the past 23 days that blogging turns a light on. Sometimes, it is a huge spotlight that puts an event on display and gives me a reason to write, but sometimes it’s just a bare light bulb popping on over my head. Those are the moments–when inspiration strikes during an otherwise mundane email check or a routine Brownie Scout meeting–that make me drop everything, change the schedule and type with a frenzy and a smile on my face. The light bulb moments are the ones that keep me coming back to the blog, and the blog is what keeps the light bulb moments coming back to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Decisions

I have always had a hard time making decisions. When faced with choices, I’ll research, then compare, then get opinions, and finally make a choice. But then…I’ll second guess and change my mind and triple guess then change it again.

Just imagine how challenging menu planning for Thanksgiving is! 


 Should I brine or roast the bird? Up until about five minutes ago, I was set on trying my hand at brining. Then I made the mistake of checking the recipe I had found in the latest issue of Food Network Magazine. I flipped a little too far in the magazine, and landed on “Cajun Bourbon Roasted Turkey”. 


Now, I’m back to roasting…at least for the time being…I think…

 That’s settled. Now, how about pies? Should I stick with tried and true pumpkin or kick it up a notch with “Vanilla Bourbon Pumpkin Pie”? I’m sensing a theme with the bourbon. Themes are good. 

But “Apple Berry Twist” is different, and I definitely don’t like to be predictable. “Apple-Pear Crumble” could work for that too. 

However, there’s nothing saying I can only make one pie. Maybe I’ll do all three…plus two turkeys…and six sides…ooh and three variations on mashed potatoes…and don’t forget the bourbon-laced gravy.  

I think I might need to start looking for Thanksgiving leftover recipes!

Refuse to Dwell

I refuse to dwell on negatives and the things I cannot change. 

Part of the reason I took a blogging break earlier this year is because the only thoughts I had were once that induced worry and stress, and I didn’t want to give precious blog space to things that don’t warrant it. 

Will we find a house in our new city?

Will the Young One make new friends?

Will the Older One visit once he’s out on his own?

Will he be able to feed himself if I’m not there to do the cooking?

I can’t dwell on these things. Worrying about them won’t change them. 

We moved. 

She made friends. 

He visits, and he seems well-fed. 

Life goes on. I can’t change its pace.  

The only thing within my control is how I react to the obstacles in my path. I can stand still and dwell on how I cannot possibly hurdle it or I can look beyond it, focus on the positive and move on. 

I choose to move on. 

Today’s post is brought to you by Five Minute Friday and the word “dwell”. 

Puppy Tough Love Replay

Yesterday, I let the Fluffy One take over my blog with a guest post, and now the Furry One is jealous. He thinks I’m playing favorites, and he’s threatening retaliation.

The last thing I want is for him to start peeing on the new rugs, so I gently reminded him that he was the star of the blog a few years ago when I interviewed him about his reaction to Fluffy joining our family. He is denying any knowledge of the interview. (He’s almost 98 in dog years, so he is allowed a little senility.)

So to make sure the trash cans don’t get dumped while I sleep tonight, I’m pulling the interview out of the archives for everyone’s enjoyment.


Puppy Tough Love

It is a sunny October afternoon, and sun filters through the picture windows that make up the north facing wall of the great room.

Furry One

I find the Furry One in his usual spot on the plush sofa. He lounges on his side, his head and a paw dangling off the edge. His eyes are closed, but when he senses my approach, they pop open, and he is alert.

We both turn our heads toward the foyer when we hear the approaching sounds of scampering feet and joyful yips, followed by a fruitless chorus of no-no’s.

Furry pushes his slightly overweight body to a sitting position, leans back into the couch and heaves a weary sigh, “Puppies,” he declares with a droop of his shiny black fur covered head.

I have come today to interview Furry about the turmoil that entered his life last month when his family returned home with a tiny white Maltese that he has come to know as The Fluffy One. He shakes his head again, and we begin.

Stiletto Momma: Tell me how it’s been.

Furry One: I haven’t had a decent nap in a month. I used to wake up, go outside, mark my territory, come back in, do a little treat-begging performance, nap for a few hours, then do it all over again. I was up to about eight solid naps a day.

Momma: Wow! That’s some professional-caliber napping. What happened?

Furry: Fluffy is what happened. *sigh*

Just then a fluffy ball with four legs zips into the room, and stops at the floor below Furry’s seat. Between frantic flips of a long flowing tail, I can just make out Fluffy’s big brown eyes and pink tongue.

Fluffy One

Fluffy: Furry! Furry! I’m back from my walk. I’m back from my walk. Did you miss me? Did ya? Did ya? Furry?

Furry: See what I mean?

Momma: Yes. She certainly is…um…energetic.

Furry: She’s crazy!

Fluffy: What’s “crazy” mean, Furry? Furry? Furry?

Fluffy high jumps from the floor to the couch directly to Furry’s left.

Furry: Seriously, how am I supposed to take a nap with this noise going on all day. It doesn’t stop!

He stands and gingerly lowers himself to the floor.

Furry: I’m ten years old. These are my golden years. My job was to protect my boy when he was younger, but now that he’s grown up and moved to that obedience school at West Point, I’m retired. I should be able to sleep when I want to without being interrupted.

Momma: I can understand that. It’s a big change. Let’s talk about how Fluffy came to be here. She’s a shelter dog, isn’t she?

Furry: Yeah, that’s about the only good thing that’s come from this. She was a stray. Someone just dropped her off on the side of the road one day, as if that five pounds of fluff could really fend for herself. Now, THAT makes me mad. Can you imagine how scared she must have been, and all because someone didn’t realize a puppy is a lot of work or some breeder thought she was too small. I’d like to take her previous owners out to the middle of nowhere with no food and no water, and tell them, “You were cute once, but I don’t want you anymore. Good luck getting out of here alive. Bye.”

Momma: You were a shelter dog too, right?

Furry: That’s right.  I was just a pup like Fluffy. That was a scary time–not knowing when I’d get another meal or a warm bed. I survived, but you have to have some street smarts to keep it together in a shelter. It’s no place for a dog like Fluffy. I mean, just look at her….

He points with his nose to the spot beside him where Fluffy is spinning in quick frantic circles.

Fluffy: Furry, look! A big hairy monster is chasing me! But don’t worry. I’m gonna get it! I’m gonna get it! I’m gonna get it this time!

Furry: That’s your tail, Fluffy. Stop it! You’re embarrassing yourself!

Momma: Have you been showing her the ropes since she got here?

Furry: *sigh* I do what I can.  Oh! There she goes again! It’s the Fluffy 500. You might want to move out of the way.

I jump to a vacant recliner as Furry bounds back to the couch, then we watch as the Fluffy One sprints around the room, weaving between the furniture as fast as her little legs will carry her.

Furry: Puppies…

Momma: There has to be something good about Fluffy coming to your family.

Furry: Well, maybe.

He’s quiet while he thinks and watches Fluffy throw a knotted and holey sock in the air.

Furry: I do kinda like that I don’t have to be alone anymore. I don’t like it when my people leave me by myself. It’s a big house, and sometimes when it’s just me here, I think about being left alone before I had this family. At least now I have someone to lay down with when they’re away. I had a brother once, and that’s how it was back then. He was the dog who was with my family when they adopted me. I miss him since he went to the Rainbow Bridge. He used to yell at me too…a lot!

He smiles at the memory.

Momma: Why did he yell at you?

Furry: Oh, lots of reasons. Mostly it was because I was a puppy and wanted to play. I used to take that sock…

He points to Fluffy’s current plaything.

Furry: …and throw it in his face. Ha! Ha! He’d get so mad at me. First, he’d growl. Then he’d throw it right back at me, and we’d each take an end and pull and shake! That was the best time!

Momma: How long has he been gone?

Furry: Five years. That’s a long time in dog years. I remember when…What the…!

Furry has been interrupted by a flying sock flung from Fluffy’s playful antics. It lands a paw’s length away from Furry’s nose. Fluffy stops and stares tentatively at Furry.

Fluffy: Uh-oh…

Furry: Fluffy!

Furry stands.

Furry: That’s not how you do it. You don’t throw it by the end. You have to get in the middle. Then you throw it. Like this.

He lets the old blue sock fly. It meets its mark on Fluffy’s back. She turns several circles before pulling it back to the floor, then tosses it back to Furry just as he taught her. She plops her bottom to the floor and wags her tail, waiting for his reaction.

Furry: You know, you might not be so bad after all, Fluffy…That was pretty good, but I bet I can beat you in tug of war….

Yips and playful growls echo down the hall as today’s lesson in puppy tough love continues.

The Fluffy One Speaks

Around this point in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) many bloggers hit a wall. The ideas dry up and the words stop flowing. The concept of posting a blog each day for 30 days sounds simple enough, but by day 18, the pressure to string together original musings each day is daunting.

I actually planned for this to happen, and on Oct. 30, I plotted out a very detailed calendar of what I would post each day. I was very impressed with my organization, until the whole thing blew up earlier this week. I had planned to re-post a blog I had written a few years ago (yes, that is acceptable during NaBloPoMo). It was the perfect time to pull it out again, but when I went to do the whole copy/paste thing, I realized I had already done that last year!

I moved the post intended for today to Monday, leaving me with a big hole in my editorial calendar. Since I am out of creative ways to fill the gap, I’m reaching into the Bag ‘O Blogger Tricks and am enlisting a guest blogger to fill the hole and give you a fresh idea. She is a beautiful girl I have known for about three years, and I know you will enjoy her perspective as much as I do.

So, in her blogging debut, I give you…the Fluffy One!


My name used to be Audrey, and I was a scruffy thing when I met Momma.

I mean my hair was a complete mess, and I was in no condition to accept visitors, especially someone as important as her. My tail was one big tangle, and my ears..! I don’t think they had ever had a proper trim, not like the expensive cuts I get now anyway. My color was all off too. My hair had a yellow tint to it, but it’s supposed to be snow white.

You have no idea how nervous I was when Momma walked into my room at that hotel.  She was so glamorous in those spikey shoes. How could someone like that want to have anything to do with someone so disheveled?

But I think she saw my potential.  She sat with me on a rocking chair and brushed the hair out of my eyes. I took the opportunity to show her how big and brown they were.  I opened them really wide and looked up at an angle like I’d seen some of the other dogs do when they got visitors. 

I didn’t know a whole lot about people back then, not nice ones anyway. So, I was afraid to make any noise. I just sat and listened to her heartbeat while she talked to the lady in charge–the one who took me from that last hotel. 

“Audrey just came to us last week,” she said. “She was wandering by herself in eastern KY. She was probably turned out by a breeder because she is so small. We said we’d take her because we’re a no-kill shelter.”

No-Kill Shelter…I always thought that was an odd name for a hotel.

Anyway, I rocked with Momma, and I listened, and I tried not to think about the scary time on my own in the woods and the time before that when I was with someone who didn’t love me enough to care what happened when four pounds of fluff is left to fend for herself.

“She’s been a little quiet, but we think she’s going to be a diva,” the lady said. “That’s why we named her Audrey, after Audrey Hepburn.”

“Really,” Momma laughed, and turned me around, so she could look into my eyes. “Audrey Hepburn is one of my idols, and if you’re a diva, you’ll fit right in!”

fluffyWe rocked some more, and then Momma gave me back to the lady. I got scared again, but she said she’d be back in a few days. For obvious reasons, I wasn’t very big on promises. But she did come back, and she brought a big guy and a little girl too. 

When they left, they gave me a fancy necklace and said I could go with them! They were going to a place called “home”. I had never been there before, and since I’ve always wanted to travel abroad, I agreed to go.  

Everything’s changed since the scary time. I have my own bed now and a pink leash and a box of toys that squeak! I even have a brother, Furry, who showed me the ropes and taught me how to be a best friend.

Life with FAMILY is pretty special, and I’m happy to be a diva with my Momma.

Picture It: Anniversary

When I met my husband 26 years ago today, he wore a leather jacket and a bandanna tied around his head. (I won’t go into all the details here, but you can catch up with this little refresher.) I was slightly concerned for my safety that night, and while I soon learned he cleaned up quite nicely…

Me and the hoodlum at a more formal affair. (It was the '80's. Please forgive the hair!)

…I still wasn’t sure where this relationship was going to take me.

I had no idea I would eventually be cruising the dunes with him in Cabo San Lucas…


…or touring Madrid, Spain….


…or standing on top of the world in Tortola….


Had I known we would be swashbuckling with pirates in the Caribbean, I might have told the dew-ragged hoodlum to stay away all those years ago….


But then I would have missed a very nice excursion to Monte Carlo…


…and a memorable side trip to the beaches of Normandy, France…


…followed by a once-in-a-lifetime cruise down the River Siene in Paris.


Had I known 26 years ago that we would sit in the sun in Riviera Maya, Mexico, I probably would have insisted we tie the knot sooner, so we could get this show on the road….


I also didn’t know we would visit some amazing locales a little closer to home, like the twin spires of Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY…


…and the Budweiser Brewery in St. Louis…

Budweiser Museum

…and, of course, the scenic banks of the Hudson River….


Twenty-six years ago, I had no idea where we were heading, but I sure am glad, I’ve stayed around for the ride. Happy anniversary, Hubby, I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes us next!