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Thanksgiving Traditions Created by Hilarious Holiday Mishaps


by Brenda K Oswalt

Remember back to the crazy things that went wrong during the holidays?  Perhaps that’s why the goofy traditions were born, to cover up the fiascos.

When we think of the holidays, the words “not as planned” come to mind.  Yes, we want to do it so right.  So we try to plan it perfectly.  So meticulously staged are some of the events that the mere concept of all this planning going down the drain is unbearable.  Guess what.  It does happen big time so just relax and roll with it.

The Half-Baked Turkey

I’ve always wanted to be a telephone person on the Butterball hotline on Thanksgiving Day.  That is, I used to want to be until the infamous Thanksgiving Day when the bird wouldn’t bake and the gang was coming.  What to do?   My husband Jim and I smelled smoke coming out of the oven about an hour after getting up at the crack of dawn to stick the 20-lb fowl in the oven. I woke back up and ran into the kitchen which was now covered in smoke.  The smoke detector was doing its thing and after quickly turning the stove off and opening up all the windows we could easily determine the huge turkey was no longer to bake in that oven.

What to Do With a Raw Big Bird?

After frantically calling a friend who was coming to our house for dinner and lived a few miles away, we quickly bundled up the raw bird and jumped into the car.  Well, our friend usually came to our house and we had never been to his.  He was single and lived in one of those subdivisions where they cut down all the trees and name the streets after them.  Keep in mind we had no cell phones or GPS back then, so we drove round and round and finally saw his jeep in the driveway.  When we checked the hastily written address it looked right too.  So we screeched into the driveway and Jim dashed for the front door.

Knock Knock Your Naked Bird Is Here

Jim laid on the doorbell with one hand while pounding on the front door with his other one.  Meanwhile, I wrestled the big gobbler, in its tinfoil pan, out of the back seat of the car and lurched up the sidewalk like Quasimodo.  The front door opened and without even glancing up Jim turned to help me carry the turkey into the kitchen.   We found the empty stove, removed the middle rack, shoved the bird in place and flipped the “bake” switch on to 350°.  Breathing a sigh of relief, only then did both of us straighten up and I laughingly joked, “Boy, could we use a cup of hot strong coffee about now, Tom.”  We went to the sink and washed our hands.  For some strange reason both of us had turkey grease all over us.  Only after drying off did we turn around to stare into the faces of an Indian couple dressed in saris.

America’s Been Very Good to Me

I wish you could have seen these two.  They looked like someone had poured them in place, there in the center of the kitchen floor.  I looked at Jim and he looked at me and with a sinking feeling we realized that we had come to the wrong house.  These people were obviously newly arrived immigrants who had not even the foggiest idea of what was happening.  They were rapidly exchanging words in their native tongue.  What to do?  I bowed back and told the lady of the house that it was an American tradition to have “big bird” to eat on this day and that we had brought it to them to cook.  She understood no English but her husband could decipher enough to translate.

Yes, We Really Do Deliver

Jim looked at me like I was crazy but what was I supposed to do?  The lady immediately fished out a massive roasting pan, the kind I had lusted after for years but had never purchased because after all, how often would you stick a bird or a roast that size in it?  No, I’d always opted for the disposable kind of turkey day pan, so I could just toss it.  Anyway, she deftly shifted the bird into the big pan and repositioned it back in the oven.  Both of them kept smiling, clasping our hands and thanking us profusely for this fine “American gift.” Jim silently mouthed to me, “Why in the name of God did you do that?" "Well, what else could I do,” I shot back as we trotted back down the sidewalk sans raw big bird.

Be Thankful for What You Have

We took off to the only supermarket we could find with a full deli and grabbed two 10-lb fully baked birds to go.  Actually, I had a lot more room in the oven so I made extra pies.  After all, someone always doesn’t like pumpkin.   We never told the crowd what happened as they complimented us on the beautifully browned birds, and commented on how smart we were to cook two smaller turkeys instead of one huge one that would take all day to bake and besides, you get two extra legs.  Yeah, like we were that smart.

Then the wife of a friend said, “I tried once to cook a huge turkey in one of those disposable tinfoil pans but the wings busted holes in the bottom and the whole stove smoked up because the bird was too heavy for the pan."  Jim looked at me and suddenly we realized what had really happened.  After all, the stove had worked fine to bake the pies in.  Thank heavens the Indian woman had been smart enough to use her good roaster and toss out the flimsy one.  No wonder we had grease all over our hands.  The back seat of the car, upon later inspection, was also covered with turkey grease.  And that day, a new tradition was born for a surprised couple experiencing their first American Thanksgiving.

More Articles for Baby Boomers:

Vintage Horror Movies and Creep Shows Are Still the Best

What to Get Your Husband for Christmas: Gifts for Older Guys

Making Leather Wearable: Women Over 40 or 50

Brenda Oswalt is a French-trained cook, writer, businesswoman and inventor who holds several medical patents.

Follow Me on Pinterest Follow My Boomer Lifestyle Blog on facebook

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  1. Angela England

    Oh my word. That is SO hilarious! I cannot fathom what they must have thought as you barged in and started cooking in their kitchen. Lol! Totally worth the price of the turkey for that one. Hehehehe

  2. Ray

    I could hear Tina laughing out loud so I went to the website and found your article. It
    was hilarious and brought back a memory of the aluminum pan falling apart as I took it out
    of the oven.

    Tina can't cook. Doubt if she can boil water so I'm the chef here.

  3. Tina

    Brenda, everyone who's read this loves it. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Tina

      Comments are not always working, so I'm posting this on behalf of my husband:

      "I could hear Tina laughing out loud so I went to the website and found your article. It
      was hilarious and brought back a memory of the aluminum pan falling apart as I took it out
      of the oven. Tina can't cook. Doubt if she can boil water so I'm the chef here."

      • Tina

        And, this comment is from Angela England.

        "Oh my word. That is SO hilarious! I cannot fathom what they must have thought as you barged in and started cooking in their kitchen. Lol! Totally worth the price of the turkey for that one. Hehehehe"

  4. Lorraine Syratt

    Very funny. We had Canadian Thanksgiving last month and believe it or not, Butterball has a hotline all day on the day. Your wish was there command.

  5. Brenda Oswalt

    Tina...and all... yes it was a trip that's for sure. We still talk "turkey time" every year as we get another one ready for the oven. Off the record - I now have a huge solid stainless steel roasting pan with lid... that trip made a believer out of me. You can't beat a good roaster. Enjoy!

  6. Heather Solos

    Hysterical. I just keep thinking about the day they realized y'all were just making a ridiculous mistake. That is such a fantastic story for both families.

  7. Brenda Oswalt

    Yes, and I have another true story coming at 'ya that happened one Christmas... when I think about it some of the strangest and hilarious things have happened to our family during holiday seasons and special events. We must invite the crazy mojo!

  8. Wanda S. Maxey

    Oh, what a great story. Thanks for sharing. I was thinking about using a disposable pan for my next turkey, this changed my mind. Bless you.


    • Tina


      I'm so glad you read the article. We all learned 2 lessons:

      1. Never use a cheap tinfoil pan for a large turkey.

      2. Be generous during the holidays. (When Brenda gave her turkey to her "new friends," it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. And, I'm sure Brenda made a lot of people happy with her story.)

  9. Brenda Oswalt

    Hey, Tina...we have had some of the craziest things happen during the holidays. On Sunday night, my husband Jim just fell into his recliner with a huge sigh. When I ask him if he was feeling ok, he said " oh yeah, just thinking what a great Thanksgiving it was. The turkey didn't explode, the water pump worked and the swimming pool heater didn't catch on fire." To which I responded - " but best of all, the twins didn't choke on the wish bone, and hey, just think... no one got sick from the food, no fights and best of all, no trips to the emergency room.

    Life is great!

  10. Linda

    That was halirious ,you gave them a nice gift and tradition for them