The Element of Surprise

This week we are asked if we have ever taken part in a holiday celebration that was totally new to us and my answer is, “Gee, no”.

I know people from all over the world. I have people that I consider friends of several religions, but I have never taken part in any different celebrations…not that I wouldn’t, in many cases.

After scouring my memory, I find that I have never been part of a ‘different’ celebration. There are two reasons that jump to mind as to why.

The first one is, that for all my acquaintances, I have had few very close friends. I am very friendly with many, but to say I have been “close” to those with whom I would share a different experience, is apparently not the right word; frankly,I have never been invited.

The second reason would be that my family, or I, have always been the host for holiday celebrations. If the people who celebrate differently celebrate the same holiday or on the same days, I would not be available…even if they were inclined to ask me. They may have known I would busy as a bee.

My husband I were actually invited to a Thanksgiving dinner just before our first wedding anniversary, which we declined. The people were friends and didn’t think we should be ‘alone’, but I was expecting our first child and their children were ill.(Thanks, but no thanks.) I am not sure how different it would have been anyway, as it was probably basically turkey, etc.
[I may have told the story here before of how my mother and her sisters took my mother’s fiancé, (my future father), home to Pennsylvania from Washington, DC for Thanksgiving to meet the family. He was shocked to see the biggest bowl of spaghetti in the world being served and thought, “Well, they are Italian, I guess that’s what they eat for Thanksgiving”, and he preceded to dig in, with all the sides, salads, breads he could never have imagined. After he was full, they brought out a big turkey with all the trimmings! As someone once said: Italians don’t understand that most people don’t eat their body weight at every meal. He never understood my mother stayed so slim for so many years.]

My family pretty much has the same Thanksgiving dinner no matter who is doing most of the cooking, but one year we had a ‘different’ Thanksgiving dinner.

Much to her dismay, my mother found that her oven was not working an evening before Thanksgiving. Mom well-known for her tasty and moist turkeys and always made a BIG one, which she cooked slowly overnight. (One year she found a 36 pounder; the oven door wouldn’t close completely.)

After some investigation, she found that the element was the culprit. All the hardware stores were closed. Somehow the idea of secretly ‘borrowing’ the element out of my sister’s boyfriend’s oven surfaced, but it did not fit. My mother was beside herself…the pies were made, the cranberry sauce was made, but there would be no turkey.

She called me, all upset and said she’d order carry-out.

I insisted on stepping in.

I had a couple of pre-made entrees in the freezer and I stayed up making more. We didn’t have enough of any one thing to feed everyone, but we had a good sampling and the day came off pretty well. People got to taste some of my cooking that they would never have had the chance to try.

Strangely, Mom had said about a month before that she wanted to do something different for Thanksgiving, but her conscience and sense of tradition had wiped out that idea. As she was eating away at what I brought, (including a Mexican layered pork dish and beef bourguignon), I said to her, “Gee Mom, you said you wanted to do something DIFFERENT for Thanksgiving, I didn’t know you didn’t want to do ANYTHING!” She laughed very hard, however,

on Friday the oven element was replaced and on Saturday we had the turkey, with every traditional side …even though we would have an almost identical dinner again on Christmas. Tradition would not let her do anything less.

The only really different Christmas was a strangely unseasonably warm one, where all Christmas-wear went unworn…so much so that as my aunt and I took my dog for a walk we saw many of the neighborhood kids in shorts, and my mother actually took the over-dried Christmas tree down before New Year’s Eve, which floored us all, given that she seldom took it down before February.

We had a ‘different’ New Year’s Eve one year, but that topic is coming up in a couple of weeks.

If anyone would care to invite me to a celebration of another custom when it isn’t on a day I host, I’d love to give it a go. Give me a call!


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
This entry was posted in big plans, childhood, Christmas, experiences, Family, helping others, Holiday, Life, memories, Random thoughts, Tonette Joyce, traditions, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Element of Surprise

  1. Joselyn says:

    So glad you were still able to enjoy that turkey. 🙂


  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Sounds like you’ve had your share of holiday stories! Wouldn’t it be boring if every event came off as planned? Frankly, I think a sampling of several different dishes sounds wonderful. My father hated turkey, so we’d often have a standing rib roast for Thanksgiving. Of course, since in our home a meal wasn’t a meal without rice, we’d have that and lots of fresh green veggies along with the roast. Once in a great while we’d have a holiday guest who would seem a bit surprised, but we never got complaints. That’s probably one reason why my husband has always had to cook the turkey – I never learned how!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My mother liked to cook standing rib roasts…even though she hated beef! She made wonderful roasts of all sorts.I hear form extended family members all the time about how they remember her cooking.
      I actually love to do buffets, but I haven’t done a real party in a while. We do more of it on holidays with the family coming in and out.I especially have samplings when it comes to New Year’s Eve and The Superbowl, that sort of thing. I try to have different foods for different folk because I am a picky eater. I never get upset when anyone doesn’t like something, because we simply all have different tastes.


  3. jeff7salter says:

    love the anecdote about your future dad pigging out on the spaghetti, unaware that was essentially an appetizer for the turkey dinner. LOL
    Glad you were able (& willing) step in that year your mom’s oven fritzed out.
    We had a Thanksgiving oven experience here, also — in fact our very first holiday in this new house. Some day I’ll find a spot to relate it.
    wise decision NOT to “share” that dinner with the family with sick kids (while you were pregnant). I’m sure they were being friendly etc., but nobody needs to share germs from sick kids, especially when you’re preggers.


    • The woman of the house was a doctor’s daughter, no less, Jeff! I made the excuse that I already had a turkey, (which I did), and that since my my mother and family were moving into town,(which they were), this would be the last Thanksgiving dinner I would probably make in quite a few years, (which it was) and I was psyched! (Also psyched not to get sick.)
      I wish you could have heard my father relate the tale, Jeff; it was very funny! Yes, that was just the pasta course.And my grandmother had been so pleased that my mother brought home a tall, broad-shouldered man who appreciated her food and could keep pace with her sons… Little did she know! He had to force down another meal. The taste was great, but there finding the room for it was another matter!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        I’ve been in a couple of situations where I had to over-eat, in order to be “polite”. I don’t think I’ll do any of that again… I have enough stomach issues without adding overindulgence to the mix.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, Jeff, my father was in his thirties and very healthy…plus my mother’s food is said to be a shadow of HER mother’s cooking.I was too little to remember when she visited when I was very young and she was too ill too cook when I saw her last. I cannot imagine how it could have been better, though. Friends and relatives are still talking about both her foods and my mother’s.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It sounds like it ended up being a wonderful Thanksgiving anyway.

    I look forward to when my brother and sister move back so I can celebrate Korean New Year with them. I think it would be fun to experience a holiday from a different culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds like fun, Angie! I never understood people who get a chance to travel who will then only stick with people from their own culture.There is so much learn from and enjoy with others.
      You must tell us about it when you do!


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