Monday, November 28, 2011

First Thanksgiving ~ BFF 142


This Thanksgiving was the 43rd Thanksgiving since I went out into the world on my own. Most of those years, I cooked a large dinner for family and friends. A typical Thanksgiving dinner at my house included all of the following:



Mashed Potatoes


Green beans

Acorn squash

Sweet potato casserole

Cranberry/orange relish

Hot rolls

Pickle selection

Both green and black olives

Stuffed celery

Nuts in the shell with nutcrackers in a dish on the coffee table

Apple pie

Pumpkin pie

Mince meat pie

I may have left something or another out….

Anyway, the point is that, aside from the few holidays at the house of a family member, I served at least 30 of those 43 years! Once a year I cooked enough for a small army and some of those years, I cooked all of that for two after all family moved away or died.

Each year, I was so tired from the preparation for the holiday and all that cooking that I just wanted people to hurry up and eat, then just go home! Until I got wise and changed my ways... Our menu now is quite simple:



Mashed potatoes


1 vegetable

Cranberry/orange relish (I have to have it!)

Apple pie

Pumpkin pie

Quite a difference, right? And much more enjoyable holiday for me!

But, this is really about my first Thanksgiving away from home. I was 21 and married less than a year. My (then) husband was given a turkey by his employer. When he brought that turkey home, I was undaunted. I flew into action. I planned my first Thanksgiving menu, which looked an awful lot like my Mom’s menu (see above). In other words, I planned a meal just like I would have had at home with my parents.

My husband was so excited to be having his own first Thanksgiving dinner that he invited friends. He didn’t stop at a few and he didn’t keep track of how many he invited. At one point I asked him exactly how many people he invited. He didn’t know… I didn’t know the extent of it until Thanksgiving Day, 1968, when people started arriving at our house.

When I saw all the people, I started worrying that there would not be enough for all, but one thing I had not been able to master yet was carving my cooking habits down to two people. So, I had cooked as much as my Mother would have and more because there would be extra people.

The other thing I worried about was where everyone would sit. As newlyweds, the only furniture we had was a sofa with matching chair and coffee table given to us by my mother-in-law, a small drop leaf kitchen table (imagine apartment size) with 2 chairs, a card table and a bed. That was it! I really wanted to wring my husband’s neck, but that wouldn’t have been the thing to do in front of polite company….

When all was said and done, and heads counted, twenty-two guests shared our first Thanksgiving. Our guests happily sat everywhere - on the floor, on the porch steps, on the patio – well…just anywhere they could find a spot to sit. Somehow, everyone had enough and we still had leftovers to enjoy the next day. Best of all is that it was a wonderful first Thanksgiving that I cherish in my memory to this day.

This past Thanksgiving will go down in our memory banks as the first Thanksgiving of the Mile High Apple Pie. I am sure a new tradition was born with this…


What a difference between our first Thanksgiving and the last…

Am I right?



Written by Darlene Cirinna

Copyright November 28, 2011

All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce.


  1. Yep, that's the way to go, and as much as I love mince pie, we went with frozen key lime.

    Dad makes pies the day before holidays and we have a warm slice for dinner. Oh yeah, Dad can bake!

  2. You reminded me about my Uncle Bob. He could bake too! He used to bake bread when he was worried about something. It was his therapy. Once he was so worried because my Aunt was pg and he was out of work and stone broke. He had to come to our house to live. He baked bread to relieve his tension. Our (huge) stand alone freezer was FULL of homemade bread. LOL We ate that bread for weeks after he found a job and they had moved to their own place. Mmmm.... I think I'll bake some bread!

  3. The huge family dinners are wonderful memories. Unfortunately, we now live in a world where families are all spread out and everyone works and no one wants to travel to a central location for a meal. It makes me very sad. I really, really miss the BIG ~ everybody comes ~ dinners.

  4. I miss them too, Jo. My parents are both gone now and both sisters live out of state. They have their own families to celebrate with. It is what it is, so we make the best of it with just us two. It's still good.

  5. Normally our Thanksgivings are just for our family (which is a family of 7 and 1--my mom--so say 8 people) and we rarely have others over or go to others' house. This is because no one else is close by or if they are--they already have plans.

    This year we had 28 people here!! YIKES!! It is only the second time in my 16 years of being married that we have had people here for Thanksgiving. It was special and fun!! Christmas will be low key compared to Thanksgiving this year --but I'm good with that.

    Great blog Darlene--that pie looks so YUMMY!

    Cheers, Jenn.

  6. I host an "orphan" Thanksgiving every year and have discovered that friends really don't care about sitting on the floor or eating off paper plates. They really just care about celebrating being together. In response, the guest list just continues to grow :).

  7. Wow, what a brave soul you were to cook for that many your first year of marriage. I love the mile high apple pie. I bet it was amazing.

  8. What wonderful memories! Your mom prepared you well. It made me hungry just reading the menu. My mom was much the same way cooking enough food to feed a third world country when there were only us 4.

    HTTP ://

  9. @ Jenn: Were they all family? When I was a kid in NY, we had really BIG family holidays. I miss that.

    @ Jane: Your orphan Thanksgivings sound great. My first Thanksgiving was an orphan meal. My husband invited anybody who didn't have a place to go. It was very nice.

    @ Laura: It WAS amazing! A new Thanksgiving tradition was born with this pie.

    @ Kathy: My Mom lived for such dinners and everything had to be perfect!

    Thank you all for your sweet comments. I do appreciate your visits and comments.