The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

Thanksgiving Day 2011

Posted · 14 Comments

I once had a foster child who’s most vivid holiday memory was sitting on the side of the freeway watching fireworks while smoking a joint with her parents.  Oh, how sweet…those parent/child bonding moments…

We’re not a family with solid holiday traditions.  We don’t have a special platter we use for turkey.  We don’t have certain foods we just have to have.   There are no candles with silver holders, we don’t sing Christmas carols while grandma plays the piano and we rarely wear matching holiday sweaters.

But at least we’re sharing a bowl of mashed potatoes and eating sweets…not passing the bowl, sucking down the sweet stench of marijuana with our children.

We eat, we drink, we try to remember why we are all here.

And so when this child with no positive memories came to live with us and holidays rolled around, we stepped it up a notch on the traditions and festivities.  She wanted fancy…we gave her fancy.  She wanted ham…we cooked a ham.  She wanted a food fight complete with laughter and joy…we threw carrots at her face.  Because when a child’s idea of Thanksgiving is a donated turkey sitting on the counter while the whole family picked it to the bone with their grimy hands, it’s no wonder she yearned for a sit-down feast, complete with mashed potatoes, apple cider, and beet juice in her hair.

For tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday we had intended to head up to my brother’s house, in Wasilla, to spend a few days with his family, as well as my parents who would join us there.  After five straight days of cleaning up vomit, both my own and that of three of my children, we decided to stay home.  Or rather, my brother said something like, “Show up here, and die.”  And though at times this week, while heaving our chili, we’ve wished for death, we decided to stay home and keep our germs to ourselves.

And so, after a rushed trip to the Zone Of All Things Horrific (i.e. the grocery store on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving) we are loaded up on holiday cheer and ready to combat the day.

Tomorrow we will work together as a family to create before us a meal of our favorite foods.  With our hands we will roll crust, bake bread, and indulge in far too much whipped cream.  And then, unlike most days when we are too rushed to really sit for a while and breathe it all in, we shall relax.

And though that child who loved ham and peeled potatoes in an attempt to create some sense of normalcy in her life is long gone, I will be thankful for those still here, take a moment for those who have moved on, and spread the fancy cloth across the table in her name.

14 Responses to "Thanksgiving Day 2011"
  1. Kat says:

    Some days it would be nice to fling a spoonful of veggies at my kid and claim it’s tradition. 🙂 We don’t have any particular traditions, either. Hubs and I both grew up in families where the gathering was much more the focus than the feasting. So today we crammed close to 40 people in my mother-in-laws house, said a prayer of thanks for the end of harvest, fresh venison, healthy children, and the love of family and then we spent the day enjoying each other’s company. Way to show your kids that the focus of the day is time spent together!

  2. Laney Connell says:

    On this Thanksgiving, I’m so thankful that children who need love so desperately have found you.  And had carrots thrown in their face 🙂  You probably don’t see it through the vomit (I have 6 kids of my own, I’ve SO been there!!) but you are an angel.  Today I’m thankful God put you on this Earth.  Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

  3. Evelyn Smith says:

    I made your Backwoods Bread yesterday for the first time.  I love it.  Very easy and so tasty. I passed the recipe on to my daughter who recently moved out on her own.  She hates store bread and loves homemade so I know she will love your recipe.  Thanks so much.

  4. Andrea says:

    As a foster mom of a baby whose sister will be celebrating her first real Thanksgiving (she’s 6 or 7) I’m so thankful to read this and I’m thankful for all foster parents!

  5. Theresa says:

    I am thankful for YOU, for all you offer the children that you’ve touched and for sharing your life with us!

  6. Eleni Drinks Tea says:

    I am sure they are all very thankful for YOU!

  7. Lois says:

    You are amazing

  8. Craig Schwartz says:

    It is nice to know I am not alone.  I just spent the day convincing a very scared child that “getting ready for thanksgiving” did not include any painful or crule purifacation rituals.  My poor husband is doing most of the cooking 🙂


  9. Baccck says:

    I’ve often though about foster parenting but I’d be arrested standing on my porch with my shot gun telling the CPS to just keep on driving because this child is staying put.  My cousin fostered a child who had 2 broken legs and a broken pelvis at the age of 18 months. Two years later the child was returned to her bio ‘parents’ and went home to see Jesus a few months later.  Thank God you are doing that, I could not.

    • Lildog says:

      Stories like that make my heart hurt so much! God bless your cousin for being there for the child, and I pray that I can someday be the one who can make a difference to prevent such stories. Peace be with you … and I hope that you are helping the foster children in whatever way you can. I admire your shotgun – I would have a matching one!

  10. Lks says:

    Sorry that the flu has joined you, and will add to this years holiday tradition.  I hope it ends soon, and maybe with a long weekend of rest, you can all kick it!!  I will be enjoying wonderful food – as well as your bread recipe…made into pizza bread (rolled with pepperoni and cheese in the middle), rolls and cinnamon bread.  So, I have changed your recipe a bit…only because I dont’ need 4 loaves at a time!  I am thankful for you my friend!

  11. Kkoschke says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your beautiful family.

  12. Chloecolestock says:


  13. how sweet <3 , the tablecloth…

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