Thursday, November 27, 2008


A friend's blog asked about Thanksgiving memories, and while I assume she is asking about happy Thanksgiving memories, I began writing about unusual Thanksgiving memories, and then realized I had a perfectly good topic for my own blog.

Sorry, Annette - you just lost a comment but I gained a blog entry.
Thanksgiving of 1981, we were living in Dusseldorf, West Germany (in 1981 there was still a wall in dividing Berlin), I had given birth to our second child the month before (at a British military hospital, which someday will be an extremely long blog entry in its own right) in Munchengladbach (my daughter has to deal with the spelling and how to pronounce that city name for her entire life, don't you feel sorry for her?).
And, as one of few American families in Dusseldorf, and the only active LDS family (although we did have a wonderful family of RLDS that attended regularly), we had become sort of the alternate mission-home to a large amount of full-time American LDS missionaries working in Duesseldorf.

I'd like to think they flocked to our gracious home because of the naturally spiritual and uplifting atmosphere which occured there.

But in reality, it was because 1) we were already LDS , and 2) didn't have to be convinced about not drinking beer (although after drinking German public water, sometimes beer did sound good) and 3) did always have non-alcoholic beverages...

and 4)
(and here is where the drum roll comes in)... We had access to....

AMERICAN FOOD. At least after a two-hour ride to another country where there was the nearest American military commissary.

And wild and exotic things like....

HERSHEY / NESTLE CHOCOLATE CHIPS (German and Swiss Chocolate are entirely different organism from our sweet stuff)

MILK that needs to be refrigerated and does not sit in a carton on your shelf for two months before you use it.

RICE KRISPY TREATS - I can't really remember whether the type of cereal or the marshmallows was impossible to get in West Germany, but man, did the missionaries love 'em.

And since we had an apartment full of Americans almost every night (and afternoon and even sometimes in the morning), it was somehow assumed that we would do the entire Thanksgiving dinner deal.

Okay, right.

HOWEVER - do you know that it is possible to get LIVE turkeys in German, but not possible to get a dead one that's been de-feathered and gutted and all that.

There are no pumpkins or cans of pumpkin stuff that you can make pies from. There are a lot of squashes and things like squashes that you can cook for hours and hours and then smash and mash and add all the seasonings and THEN put it all together in a pie.

Stuffing? Are you kidding? Stove-Top was patented in 1975, but the Germans hadn't caught on to it by 1981. So... stale bread, a lot of herbs, bake that stuff, then stick it in the turkey... once you've de-feathered and gutted the bird.....

'Nuff said. It wasn't easy, it's wasn't very pretty, but it got DONE.

Now, if memory serves correctly, we invited our Scottish neighbor Maggie because she was interested in American customs and wanted to see how we celebrated Thanksgiving. And it didn't hurt the missionaries' time sheets any that she wasn't a member of the church (tick off 'time fellow shipping investigator' for five hours on November 24, 1981).

We ate, and ate, and ate, as only eight American boys aged 19-22 , a nursing mother, a two-year old, an adult who reached 30 just as he was introduced to German cooking on an expense account and a healthy Scotswoman.

And it all was happy and fun... until one of the dear, polite Mormon elders leaned back in his chair, slapped his stomach in contentment, and said, "Man! Am I stuffed!"

"WHAT?!?" cried Maggie.

"I just said that I'm full," replied the surprised elder.

Maggie turned to me and demanded, "Are you going to allow talk like that in your home?!?"

Lesson No. 1 - Different languages, especially languages that are called the SAME, such as English, have different definitions to the exact same word.

"Stuffed" in American English means... well, stuffed.

"Stuffed" in Great Britain English, which is an entirely different language, means "F*****" multiplied by a factor of 10 and somehow involves your mother and the legitimacy of your birth and wearing of army boots.

And "Full" is just as bad, if not worse.

There. That's my most memorable Thanksgiving.

So... how stuffed was your own Thanksgiving?


Lisa said...

My husband was very popular on his mission to London- because he was in the National Guard and had military ID, and he could go to Lakenheath and buy root beer, graham crackers, all kinds of American food. Good times. Dyess AFB were we are stationed now has flocks of wild turkeys roaming around on base, but shooting them is a no-no.

Mormor said...

I enjoyed your Thanksgiving memory! I may have to write a blog about some unusual Thanksgiving memories. Nothing quite as UNUSUAL as your Thanksgiving in Germany though. How the heck did you kill the turkey??

Sailing Past Maturity Straight into Senility said...

We,PAID a German butcher to get one, gut it and de-feather it. But as I recall, it still had some feathers here and there when we got it in the oven.

(Remember Mr. Butcher, the VP at SPHS?!)

Harmony said...



My most interesting Thanksgiving memory is when we announced we were pregnant at my in-laws Thanksgiving meal and my mother-in-law spent the entire meal asking me how sore my nipples were.