HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Your worst Thanksgiving meal?

What's the worst Thanksgiving meal or dish you've had? Could be something you prepared, or were served at someone else's home. A few years ago I had dinner with some friends. The gal and her boyfriend were pretty novice cooks and were in charge of the meal. They decided to use an oven bag to cook the turkey and probably left that thing in the oven a good hour longer than was needed. By the time they pulled the turkey out, the breast meat had split open and was starting to turn to jerky. Thank goodness there were a lot of appetizers and side dishes.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A old girlfriend's family......her mother's home with her mother's two sisters and all their husbands, and one of the aunt's in-laws. One of the husbands, my GF's uncle would always tell the same stories on how hard he worked and how early he had to get up to go to work. the FIL the aunt's was another jerk who would tell the same stories to me on how great Austria was compared to the United States (He had not been back to Europe or Austria for over 30 years) and he only wore the best of shoes and clothes, even if he walked around the block for a morning stroll........PBS was the only station allowed on the television, NO FOOTBALL or MOVIES......they required you to participate in Trivial Pursuit and other such games......there were no places to lie down if you were tired or BORED.......there was no family trash talking........The turkey was dry and the stuffing for the turkey was white rice with celery & carrots, no gravy......no mashed potatoes......margarine instead of butter........thanks for bringing back unpleasant memories.

    Your meal and experience above sounds pretty good to me compared to mine....:-)

    1. In 1973 I was invited for Thanksgiving to newlywed friends near college. The wife had never cooked a turkey (and not much else) before.

      I was wondering what this horrible smell was, when she pulled the bird from the oven. The outside looked picture perfect, but the odor was deadly.

      Sure enough, she hadn't removed the giblet bag from the cavity before cooking.

      We drank the rest of the afternoon, eating popcorn and other munchies. The turkey went staright out to the trash.

      4 Replies
      1. re: bagelman01

        My Aunt has Thanksgiving every year. She makes this Broccoli concoction, with this soupy consistency milk or cream, don't ask me for as I wouldn't touch broccoli with a ten foot pole, but for as long as I can remember and I been going, It's been referred to as "fart salad" ...Oh yea and her corn muffins suck too. They have hard pieces of corn in them, you know the kind that get stuck in your poop eh? Turkey is at least edible though, and sweet potatoes are not too shabby if by the time we finally get seated they are still hot. But honestly I could just skip the meal and kill my my Moms Homemade Pumpkin Pie she brings every year...that would be enough for my meal.

        1. re: Woof Woof Woof

          fart salad and corn etc............ seriously ?

          1. re: Woof Woof Woof

            Oh, how sad. I bet your aunt puts a lot of effort into this meal. Maybe you could bring something tomorrow that you like to contribute.

            Happy Thanksgiving!

          2. re: bagelman01

            My mother once did this as a newly-wed, apparently. But with a chicken rather than a turkey. My father still talks about it now! She was only about 19 at the time.....

          3. One year, when I was a kid, my dad was ill (either he cooked Thanksgiving dinner or my great-aunt did). For some reason, my great-aunt didn't cook a Thanksgiving meal (she was elderly and may not have felt well herself, for all I know). Dad was pretty sick (nothing life-threatening) so it was up to Mom, who really dislikes cooking. We had Stouffer's frozen turkey croquettes that year.

            1. We had to go to my brother's fiance's mother's house for Thanksgiving a few years ago...the meal itself was alright until we got to dessert. She served us "trifle" which included layers of sugar-free angel food cake, fat-free cool whip, marmalade, cranberry sauce, and creme de menthe...quite possibly one of the worst things I've ever eaten. Thankfully I've since moved out of town and have managed to miss all the holiday meals at her house.

              1. let's just say it was the first time the hostess had ever made a turkey, i.e., still frozen in the middle, AND didn't know how to make mashed potatoes, i.e, didn't even add salt....

                1. One year I had gotten out of the hospital on Thanksgiving morning. A friend of mine picked me up and we started a desperate search for a grocery store or restaurant but nothing was open in our small town. We ended up at a gas station/convenience store were we bought Swanson's turkey TV dinners.
                  Truly a forgettable Thanksgiving.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Yeah, I guess you're right, as it's still one of my outstanding Thanksgiving memories. My friend has since passed away. I think of him often, especially when I see Swanson's at the market.

                  1. My college boyfriend and I had been going out for 2-3 years and we were in our last year of school. Everyone expected us to get engaged soon. We arrived Wed before the holiday at his folks' in Cleve Heights, with a packed fridge full of food to be prepared. He knew that I came from a long line of good cooks (my Granma was a chef in a European resort in her time), and I knew my way around a kitchen.

                    His family ordered in pizza and salad for dinner that night. At the table, his stepmother announced that I was in charge of cooking and his 2 sisters (think Cinderella's evil stepsisters) were supposed to help me. Needless to say, I was dumbstruck. And too naive and eager to please to refuse.

                    I woke by myself at 6 a.m. to prepare the meal to be ready for noon. You guessed it - I was alone in a kitchen where I didn't know where any utensils or tools were stored. AND, I had never made a turkey before (but I had roasted many a chicken).

                    I won't bore you with the gory details but let's just say I laughed out loud for 10 minutes at the scene in The Color Purple when Whoopi spits in the lemonade. BTW, I didn't eat the dinner and we broke up shortly thereafter (not necessarily over this event, but a mitigating factor).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                      C'mon, you want us to beg??? I'm not proud: So, Diane, how did your first turkey turn out?

                    2. My worst Thanksgiving I can recall is visting my mther's sister's family in Brooklyn. We arrived 2 days prior, only to find out the day before bird day that nothing had been purchased for dinner. GUESS WHO PICKED UP THE DINNER TAB? Oh and the father had an excessive gambling problem and managed to get the gas turned off that evening? We left that evening without dinner. My mother still wants to wring my Aunts neck over this.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: burwell07

                        Leave it to the gas company in Brooklyn to do a shut-off on a holiday.

                      2. Stale, cellophane-wrapped sandwiches of dubious origin and content, from the Quick Stop down the highway, at about 11pm on Thanksgiving night, after an entire day spent stuffing a 27' Uhaul truck with (mostly) boxes of books, on what would amount to the 3rd of 5 trips to our FIRST real home (well, one we didn't rent, that is...).

                        It was a terrible, terrible meal but we were so happy to be sitting on the floor of our VERY own living room, we barely cared. :-)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Beckyleach

                          Now your very own home is really something to give thanks for!

                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                            What a great thread! Mr. ChefLambo just came in to the room to see why I was laughing so hard. Considering all the horrible Thanksgiving dinners I've eaten with his family, I thought I would surely have something to contribute here, but these stories top ANYTHING I could recall happening to me. If you visit the "Most Memorable Cooking Disasters" thread below, you can read about how I broiled the beautiful pie I made for my T-day with my first husband and his family.

                            I have eaten dinner at a hotel restaurant on Thanksvgiving day -- it was a Holiday Inn in Louisville KY, 1985 -- when first husband and I (newlyweds of 3 weeks) were driving to Owensville, on our way to a business meeting he had to attend the next day (long story - dont ask), The food was actually pretty good, and honestly we were so happy to be in love and going ANYWHERE together that it could have been turkey sandwiches at the Stop n Go for all we cared. Still my most romantic Thanksgiving dinner ever.

                        2. Husband and I were driving 8 hours, on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, to clear out his mother's home after she died.

                          We stopped at a truckstop just outside the small town where she lived and had hot turkey sandwiches. It was a small bright spot that the turkey was from an actual roasted turkey instead of sliced, packaged.

                          1. This is hard. On the one hand, there is the dinner we went to years ago hosted by newly-weds. They put the 22 pound, partially frozen bird in the oven when we showed up. On the other hand, the first year we were empty nesters, we went to a local inn where they were offering pressed turkey roll and instant mashed potatoes. Both experiences were special.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: pikawicca

                              Hah hah! You just reminded me of our *second* worst Thanksgiving Dinner. We made reservations *well* in advance to drive to a town about 45 miles away, where the long-established local restaurant was reputed to have a great T-Day buffet...We made our reservations for a 2pm seating, after ascertaining that the last seating was at 3pm. (pretty early to us, but we're from the East Coast, originally. Around rural Iowa, however, where we live these days, they operate on a less cosmopolitan schedule. ;-)

                              So, the day arrives. It's grey. It's gloomy. The weather is threatening. BUT we have no food in the house, live out in the sticks, all our family is back East, and we'd have pretty damn sad Thanksgiving if we didn't go ahead with our plans. And my four year old daughter was all excited, dressed up, and raring to go!

                              So, out into the gathering storm we go, for a white knuckle drive through pounding SLEET and on slippery roads, all the way to the restaurant. We're STARVING! We're precisely on time...

                              We, gratefully, pile out of the car, slid across the parking lot, walk inside, anticipating our feast---the one we've anticipated for weeks. Yum! As we're being led to our table, we check out what had been touted as a marvelous buffet: the appetizers are looking pretty shopworn...the dessert table has been ravaged...and--horrors!--where the turkey is supposed to reside, awaiting carving, is NOTHING BUT A HUGE PILE OF BONES and some scraps. I mean, trashed. Gone. Wiped out.

                              We ask the hostess, "When will you be replenishing the buffet?" After all, there's still an hour to go! She looks at us like we're slightly kooky, plasters on a smile, and says, in a fake perky tone, "Oh, hon, there's PLENTY of food still out there for you to eat!"

                              We're incredulous. We're expected to spend aproximately $20 per person for stale bread, coagulated vegetables and sauces, a few pieces of Longhorn cheese, dried olives, the last, ghastly desserts that even Iowans wouldn't eat, and TURKEY SCRAPS?

                              They absolutely refused to bring out any more food. We informed them that we had just endured a hair-raising drive through foul weather to enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner for which we'd made reservations WEEKS ago, only to be met with utter, total crap and indifference. Didn't they even care? No, they didn't. "If you don't like it, you can always leave" was the response, even though we were in the middle of nowhere, miles from anywhere else, on a day when most businesses were shut down.

                              We got mad. We announced our displeasure loudly enough that the few remaining "diners" looked up. We told the Establishment precisely what we thought of their poor planning and complete lack of gracious hostessing. We told them that we were hungry, cold, disappointed, and would NEVER darken their door, again.

                              But what really topped things off was, as we were putting on our coats and leaving, my adorable, curly-haired, Shirley Temple look-alike little daughter marched up to the manager, stomped her little, patent-leather clad foot, and shouted, I'm REALLY disappointed in you, too!" and then whirled around and walked out in a tiny little huff. :-D

                              We found a stupid Perkins open about 20 miles down the road and were treated to kindness and pretty decent food--and there was turkey!--by the waitress, there, instead.

                              1. re: Beckyleach

                                Then why do you call the Perkins stupid? Seems to me they saved the day.

                                1. re: phofiend

                                  and where they were "treated to kindness and pretty decent food."

                                  becky, now apologize to perkins! ;-)).

                                  did you get some of their famous french silk pie? mmmmm!

                              2. re: pikawicca

                                Ugh...you reminded me of an unpleasant CHRISTMAS meal. My husband and I were both working crummy jobs where the only day we had off was Christmas. We had just bought our first house. I was campaigning mightily for us to just have a "romantic" Christmas, just the two of us, at our very own home. We could see the families on the surrounding weekends, but let's save Christmas for us. MIL couldn't handle it and pressured husband into agreeing to "just a few hours for dinner" on Christmas. Okay, fine, I can understand, FINE. We were told to be there for 1:30 dinner. We got there at 12:15 and the turkey was not even in the oven yet.

                                Pure flakiness, or controlling behaviors? You be the judge; I STILL haven't decided! All I can tell you is that in recent years I've just quietly taken over the cooking anytime the holidays are at her house. Keeps my SIL and I from losing our minds with seething rage and dropping blood sugar! ;)

                              3. I forgot about two other memorable T-Day experiences. My friend and her husband went all out for a dinner for our familes, about 10 people total. They rented a large round table, had fancy china and silverware and had the table decorated and completely decked out. The husband was in charge of the turkey and he was a pretty good cook. Not sure what happened with the turkey, but he could not get that thing to cook. They had planned to serve dinner around 6pm, but it took 3 more hours for the turkey to be done, so we ended up eating dinner at 9pm. Appetizers were long gone and everyone was starving.

                                The other one was when my mother thought she had purchased a turkey breast for the three of us. It ended up being a whole boneless turkey - not a turkey loaf, but a whole turkey, white meat and dark, packed together in a ball. I wouldn't say it tasted bad, but it was really visually unappealing. Even my father, who never complains about anything, said - "don't buy one of those again."

                                1. I'm afraid it may be this one. My husband announced that this year he and his son would be cooking T-day dinner for our family of 10 (us, kids and grandkids) so I could have the day to relax, visit and play. Then he turned to me and said, "How do I make stuffing?", "How long do I cook a turkey?". Son makes a mean chicken tender from the box to the nuke. I fear for our dinner and I fear for the aftermath in my kitchen but I'm determined to give up control, appreciate the generous gesture, and play with my granddaughters until the smoke alarms go off!

                                  29 Replies
                                  1. re: morwen

                                    Whoa, good luck with that. I'd take the kids to a movie so you'll be out of range of the kitchen drama.

                                    1. re: morwen

                                      Our early T-day has passed. The DIL's ("I won't eat that, too many colors") sweet potato marshmallow casserole and green bean casserole ("I cook by smell and sight - I don't taste anything.") was awful as expected, the turkey was pretty but dry. The potatoes, stuffing, steamed greens, baked corn, and gravy (and sneaked in baked sweets) were excellent! More superb desserts than one family should have. The kitchen was a disaster but the smoke alarm didn't go off once! Time spent with granddaughters: priceless.

                                      1. re: morwen

                                        """"The DIL's ("I won't eat that, too many colors") sweet potato marshmallow casserole and green bean casserole ("I cook by smell and sight - I don't taste anything.") was awful"""

                                        her *quotes* are priceless! LOL!

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          Her four major food groups are white, gray, brown, and coffee. But at least now she'll taste anything once compared to when she first met our son. That and the house rule - If you don't like what's on the table, get your own butt in to Hardees.

                                          1. re: morwen

                                            she must be related to an old boyfriend of mine, whose favorite color was *beige.*

                                            my nieces know him as "mr. beige."

                                            i picked a fight when i taunted him that my favorite color was magenta. (to keep on a "food" topic: beet juice is magenta. beets can be on a thanksgiving relish tray. many people don't like beets. i learned to love beets on a particular diet. beets can be prepared in many delicious ways. roasted beets. pickled beets. harvard beets.

                                            ~~~~ phew! any more beet facts i can dredge up? ;-).

                                            happy thanksgiving!

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              Uh-oh... maybe it's this one. We've been invited to above son and DIL's house for Thanksgiving. Husband begged me to cook a turkey to take along but I pointed out it might be more than a little insulting to show up with a substitute centerpiece of the dinner in hand (and I'm not going to be the one to take that fall). Now he wants me to make a Thanksgiving dinner to leave at home so when we come back he can eat. I know this will be repeated at Christmas too.

                                              The holidays are really beginning to suck....

                                              1. re: morwen

                                                I know, my husband refuses to go to his sister's due to her cooking, she doesn't know the real reason but is highly insulted either way. There are such mean feelings involved that we uninvited her and his brother after over 30 years of me doing everything, and I mean everything, and are spending the weekend alone, which will be way nicer than last year. But there are no children involved. The few times we went there, I was told to have a meal ready when we returned home, so you're not the only one. At least our husbands love our cooking.

                                                1. re: morwen

                                                  I think you're very smart to refuse to bring a cooked turkey to someone's house (unless, of course, it was requested by them).

                                                  I can see where your husband really NEEDS your Thanksgiving dinner so why don't you cook one fresh just for the two of you the following day or so? I know I'd really miss my stuffing and cranberry sauce (not to mention the gravy and mashed potatoes.)

                                                  1. re: morwen

                                                    Having a delicious dinner cooked by you waiting in the fridge is a great idea. I have always done that even if whoever is hosting is an excellent cook. My kids are used to the way that I make things so it gives them comfort knowing that they will get those foods no matter where we the actual holiday meal.

                                                    Also, I always think that leftovers are the best part of the meal anyway so you really have the best of both worlds. Lots of leftovers and food that you know that you will like.

                                                    1. re: baseballfan

                                                      buy the turkey on black friday for cents on the dollar, too.

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        Tastes even better when you get a deal!

                                                        1. re: baseballfan

                                                          i paid $3 last year for a 12-13 pounder on black friday. about the same for a large turkey "breast." (hey, what if i let TSA grope the turkey breast instead? http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_FekELn6Cqq8... ).

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            I'm off today to get .39/lb turkeys. Butter, cranberries, nuts, lamb, pork loin, standing rib beef and rib eye roasts are all on deep sale today too so I'm loading the freezers. The holiday sales are when I purchase a year's supply of lots of these things. I just wish the turkeys weren't frozen so I could cut some of them into parts and freeze.
                                                            I'm resigned to cooking a second T-day for us. I do like the leftovers best.

                                                            1. re: morwen

                                                              I always buy a couple of turkeys after Thanksgiving as well and put them in the freezer. Sometimes I will cook one for Christmas. I wish roasts were a good price here. They are on sale but still pricey. I do a lot of baking and this is a good time of year to stock up baking supplies.

                                                    2. re: morwen

                                                      I think you definitely need to make your own Thanksgiving dinner to come back to! And next year? YOU have them over to your place. :-)

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        No,no,no,no,no. This is the first year that the entire family hasn't been over for T-day (and Xmas, 4th of July, etc.). It's hugely stressing, no one ever helps (not even with clean-up), they're here for days, and I get treated like staff. Last year DH told them to bring side dishes and he and his son would cook the turkey. One DIL (the one who can't cook) brought two sides, the others brought nothing. Then DH and his son turned to me and asked "how do we make a turkey?" and How do we make stuffing?" Nope next year I'm going on strike and finding a T-day buffet somewhere.

                                                        1. re: morwen

                                                          """""" It's hugely stressing, no one ever helps (not even with clean-up), they're here for days, and I get treated like staff."""""

                                                          CHUMP-O-RAMA! (them, of course...or as my dad would call them: "TURKEYS!").

                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            There must be a guide book out there for guests, outlining proper and acceptable guest behavior; get a copy and maybe stick it in the bathroom, or on the nightstand, hint, hint, who cares how obvious it is. I just can't believe how some guests act. I think the bad behavior tends to be more from family than unrelated guests; somehow family members think their above the law.

                                                            Tsk, tsk. I don't blame people for not inviting family.

                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                              Oh yeah, this is family not guests. We run a B&B in our home and the guests never behave that way. In fact, I have to do less deep cleaning after a guest stay than I do after a family stay of the same amount of time.

                                                              Hmmm... There's a thought. Guest rooms are always at a premium in town during all holidays. We're usually closed to accommodate "family". Maybe I'll rent out AND find a buffet next year! Urging family to make early reservations in town of course!

                                                          2. re: morwen

                                                            Nope next year I'm going on strike and finding a T-day buffet somewhere.

                                                            Nope - next year have a PRIVATE Thanksgiving dinner for JUST yourself and family and don't invite anyone else! Ugh - I hate that no one helps.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              LOL! It's FAMILY that's the problem!

                                                              1. re: morwen

                                                                I did mean just your immediate family (husband, kids) but if they're the issue, you're SOL! LOL

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Oh yeah, it's immediate family. I guess I should clarify: my adult son lives too far away to come home for T-day and I have no other family on my side. Husband's adult kids live within 3 hours of us. Husband's mother and brother are totally dysfunctional 24/7/365 and he's already banned them from the house (the town, the county, and the state). Husband's kids are good kids but become irresponsible and inconsiderate upon entering the house.

                                                                  That's why next year the B&B will have guests, the family will have to stay somewhere else, and dinner will be a buffet at a restaurant.

                                                                  1. re: morwen

                                                                    You sound like me right around this time last year, and I didn't change my mind in the meantime as I thought I would. I am so into just the two of us this weekend.

                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                        "An air horn will help let your guests know when they've overstayed their welcome"
                                                                        Take out guests, insert family and it's perfect!

                                                                        We hosted the "Pre-Thanksgiving Trial Run Potluck" last night. I made whole boneless stuffed chicken and pork loins with dried fruit and cider glaze. Our friends and neighbors brought side dishes and desserts they wanted to try out before using for their T-day dinners. The pot luck was crowded, noisy, warm, friendly, with lots of appreciative comments on the food,swapping of recipes, packing up and distribution of leftovers, and pitching in of clean up. Not a single snark the whole evening! Everyone claimed it a success and an example of how T-day should be. So now we're all ready to face our families!

                                                                        1. re: morwen

                                                                          Oooh, what a KEWL idea! Try out recipes, relax and have a little fun...five stars.

                                                                          1. re: morwen

                                                                            I love this, morwen! Maybe the gang of you should all get together again on Thursday and leave the families to fend for themselves! LOL

                                                2. One year my mom, who was a mediocre (at best) and unenthusiastic cook, served a turkey "roll"--I believe it was chopped, processed with nasty chemicals, and sort of reconstituted. I was up all night with the worst indigestion outside of food poisoning I've ever had.

                                                  She was a wonderful and loving mother, and loved being surrounded by her family, but she couldn't cook to save her life.

                                                  1. One year we went to my dad's parents' instead of staying home. Ethel (she was too cold and forbidding a woman to ever be a "Grandma") was not, shall we say, born to the apron. You know the old stereotype of the white-haired granny making everything from scratch looking down her nose at the worthless daughter-in-law using all the prefabs and instants and mixes and frozens? Reversed. Mom made everything from scratch; Ethel was the first person I ever knew -- only one, really -- who used Shake and Bake.

                                                    Anyway, we go to their house for Thanksgiving and the food is uniformly awful. Instant mashed potatoes with skim milk, and way too much stale black pepper. Dry, underseasoned turkey. Gravy from a mix. Canned peas boiled and drained. Stove Top Stuffing. Stale Brown-n-Serve rolls. Frozen pumpkin pie, not even thawed all the way, topped with Cool Whip.

                                                    About 15 minutes after dinner I began to not feel so good, and ended up getting nauseous and throwing up. Followed by three of my cousins.

                                                    We stayed home the next year.

                                                    1. 1. Somewhere in her mid-70's, Mom decided that she'd had it with roasting a turkey--far too much effort. So she served a turkey roll the next year. From then on, my sister in law roasted the turkey and brought that as her potluck contribution to the family TDay dinner.

                                                      2. OK, so this one doesn't really fit the category because it's about a memorable Xmas meal, but it also has to do with reluctance to roast a turkey, so here goes: I come from a large extended family. 30 people for holiday meals was common--we had an adult table, adult table, kids' table, kids' table, kids' table. I didn't know that all dinner guests could have matching cutlery till I moved away to college.

                                                      In any event, some time when I was in my teens, the aunties all decided that it was way too much hassle to roast turkeys, so they brought in fried chicken. It wasn't even transferred to platters, it just got passed around the table in cardboard buckets.

                                                      A few years ago, there was an indie movie called "What's Cooking?" that featured a scene where a family got KFC after they'd incinerated their TDay turkey. Did the director have a mole at our Kentucky Fried Christmas???

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Erika L

                                                        Another "Why bother roasting a turkey?" story, only this wasn't T-Day, it was Hanukkah.

                                                        I'd recently gotten engaged and was still in the process of meeting Spouse's extended family. His sister's MIL had invited everyone for a Hanukkah meal. I'm tentative, not knowing many of the people and being the new kid on the block, but getting a little concerned when I see that the main course is the same frozen Empire BBQ turkey-like substance that my aunt used to make for occasions. My aunt couldn't cook worth a hang so this is looking like a problem. Especially when her son and my fiance start asking about why the bird isn't in the oven yet. "Oh, it's already pre-cooked. I just have to heat it up," comes the reply.

                                                        Fast forward about 45 minutes later. Everyone is hungry, ready to eat. The turkey comes out of the oven and the hostess asks Spouse to please carve. He sticks the knife into the bird and finds that the poor thing is still frozen solid. Only the thinnest outer layer was warm. It might have been pre-cooked but it still needed to be defrosted first. So we all end up standing around watching Spouse try futilely to chip off bits of frozen turkey to put on a baking tray to heat up, this being in the days before everyone had a microwave. We ate a lot of sides that year.

                                                        Not my worst family meal by a long shot, but why do people who normally cannot cook insist on roasting turkeys (or turkey analogs)?

                                                      2. We usually have to work the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Xmas. So inevitably we're driving back that night so we can be at work at 8 or 9am the next day. I'm not sure which holiday it was, but there was one time we still had 3 hours to drive and were starving. We took just about every exit off the highway trying to find a place to eat. Nothing.

                                                        We finally ended up making a meal out of gas station food. Even though it was gross and unsatisfying, we still laugh about those Lunchables! (Please don't serve those horrid things to your kids)

                                                        1. it was the one without ANY cranberry relish of any kind. there was nothing in the meal that wasn't sweet, or soft, or made-from-can-casserole-ish.

                                                          how can you have turkey without cran?!?!?!

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            Turkey without cranberries? That is against the Official Thanksgiving Rule #7. (Now I have to go make up rules 1-6)

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              they invited us again, after about a four year hiatus. we had to decline (politely, of course). it wasn't just the cran, but there was some (ever-so-subtle-or-maybe-not-so-subtle) dissing by her husband of mr. alka. HOMEY don't play that!!! don't go messin' with mr. alka -- that's MY job.

                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                We're both in VA, Alkapal! I suggest next year you come to my place in the Blue Ridge for T-day! I promise you cranberry relish, nothing from a can, and a balanced mix of sweet, savory, crunchy, and soft. And no dissing of spouses. Ever.

                                                                1. re: morwen

                                                                  If I've learned anything from this site, two things are better in the can for many users of this site.....

                                                                  cranberry jelly and corned beef hash.


                                                                  1. re: morwen

                                                                    you are ON! ;-). blue ridge pkwy has a great FB page, btw.

                                                              2. Unfortunately my worst Thanksgiving repeats itself every other year, as that is the cycle we follow between my family and DH's family for the holiday. My in-laws - wonderful people though they are - simply do not cook. They outsource Thanksgiving dinner and have forever, from what I can tell. This would be fine if they had a decent caterer, but they use the same woman (not a professional caterer) every year, who cooks 2 turkeys in advance and about 8 casseroles, which are then reheated on the big day. Yes, reheating a whole, cooked turkey will ruin it no matter how good it may have been when it first came out of the oven. And they all only eat white meat, so they used to throw out the legs & thighs with the carcus!! I rescue it every year now and use it for turkey chilli and turkey tetrazini. The dressing seems like it was molded from bread crumbs, not cubes, so it has a mushy, grainy texture. There is no gravy to moisten or flavor any of the blandness. the traditional green bean casserole with cream o mushroom soup is there of course, but the onions have been sitting for 24-hrs so they're soggy after reheating. Even the desserts (chocolate pudding pie and pecan pie) are worse than what I could buy at Krogers. And no mashed potatoes!! It's the worst quality meal you could imagine, and it happens every other year for us. I've offered twice now to do the whole thing or at least half of it, but they refuse. Last year I brought a pumpkin pie and a brussel sprout side dish, but that's all they'll permit. And to top it all off last year, the out-of-town cousins brought a stomach bug with them and the whole group of us all took turns being violently ill for 24-hrs. The food was not to blame, but the association with that meal will be hard to get over! Thankfully this year I'm headed to my parents' for a home-cooked Thanksgiving.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: jboeke

                                                                  Oh, man! My deepest sympathies on the entire, sad pattern!

                                                                  1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                    Thanks. I brought home a load of leftovers from my folks, so hopefully that will carry me the 2 years until I have a decent T-day dinner again.

                                                                2. About fifteen years ago, our family had adopted a stray dog - or the stray dog adopted us. This happened in early November and we had not yet named our new animal. He was eager to please, even-tempered and getting along pretty well with the resident head dog so things looked good for the future.

                                                                  On Thanksgiving Day, with a lot of friends and family in the house, our traditional meal was taking shape. The turkey had just been pulled from the oven and was awaiting carving, time to make gravy, vegetables were in various stages of readiness and we were about 30 minutes from sitting down at table.

                                                                  No one was watching the new dog who was carefully watching the turkey. In an instant, he leaped up, grabbed the bird and disappeared into the yard. Of course everyone was stunned. By the time we made the move to rescue our dinner, there wasn't a lot left.

                                                                  We ate a semi-vegetarian meal that year and the new dog was finally named. We settled on "Saute" since he could jump better than anything we'd ever seen. He was a really terrific animal and we ended up liking him a lot more than some ole turkey bird who could be replaced.
                                                                  RIP Saute.

                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Sherri

                                                                      HA! That dog must have been a descendant of the Bumpus' dogs in "A Christmas Story"!
                                                                      Love it, and great name for the pooch :)

                                                                      1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                        i had a cat who did that with smoked salmon. man, they are FAST!

                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                          let me brighten your memories of bad meals with awesomeness......

                                                                          1. re: nkeane

                                                                            ha ha. my cat is like the one at 4:29!

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            just think, when this was written in 2009, we (at least i) hadn't heard of fa-ra gaga.

                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                              I still haven't!

                                                                              I'm referring to the scene in "A Christmas Story" where the family goes out to dinner at the Chinese restaurant after the Bumpus' dogs steal the turkey.

                                                                              the staff at the restaurant stand around and and serenade them with a Chinglish version of Deck the Halls.

                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                Would that we STILL hadn't heard of fa-ra gaga.

                                                                          2. re: Sherri

                                                                            We have the same story in my family, only it was our dog and it was an Easter ham resting on the oven door. My grandfather played tug of war with "Yogi" and recovered most of the ham. ENjoy having a story that will last for decades!

                                                                            1. re: Sherri

                                                                              Substitute prime rib for turkey, bringing my girlfriend to my parents' house for the first time for Thanksgiving, and my German Shepherd Maggie for Saute, and you have one of my family's favorite food memories. My poor mother was so embarrassed.

                                                                              We ordered pizza.

                                                                            2. My worth Thanksgivings (I don't recall if there were two or three of them) were bad simply because they lacked a proper gravy. I was shocked to learn that some people just use the turkey juices instead. Even when cooked perfectly, I find the typical factory farmed broad-breasted white to be pretty bland, but gravy always saved it for me. Gravy really makes Thanksgiving for me. On the plus side, these were the only years I can recall where I did not eat too much at Thanksgiving dinner.

                                                                              1. I posted this in thread over in Home Cooking, but it fits in this thread also.

                                                                                My wife's aunt, who died several years ago at age 93, would always come to the family
                                                                                Thanksgiving dinners with a Broccoli-Cheese casserole in a 9x13 baking dish. She would always make it with large packets of Kraft powdered cheese, like the ones that come in macaroni and cheese. Of course she made sure everyone at the table had a helping of this dish and watched to make sure it was eaten. We had to suffer through this for 20-years.

                                                                                That's not the end of it. Last year, after not having the aunt's casserole for a few years, a cousin asked my wife to recreate the dish and bring it to a family dinner. We were horrified, but complied. We didn't have the recipe (why would we?). Searching the internet, we found an almost exact replica recipe. My wife made it, powdered cheese and all. It tasted exactly like wihat her aunt used to bring to Thanksgiving. Not much of the dish was consumed and we have not been asked to bring it this year. May that dish finally rest in peace.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                  The Christmas after Kay died one of the men made a spectacle hollering "Where are the japapenos? I wait all year for the stuffed jalapenos! Who forgot to bring the stuffed jalapenos?" We were too stunned to reply, then Kay's daughter looked him in the eye and said, "I miss them too." She brought a tray of them to every family gathering thereafter.

                                                                                  1. re: AreBe

                                                                                    *That* was a very touching story. That man may have caused a (painful) spectacle, but a part of Kay came back to the table as a result. I remember the first year I was able to nail my grandmother's dressing recipe . . . and it was by accident. I was just making the 'stuffing', but doing a few things I hadn't done before, and the *smell* shocked me out of my early morning fog. And I was so glad of it, to be reminded of her, and how we never called it 'stuffing' while I was growing up, and to again have that dressing at my table, so many years after her death. Your story reminded me of that.

                                                                                2. This happened about 15 years ago. My wife's cousin and family had recently moved into a large, two story, rental house about 30 minutes away from us here in northern California.

                                                                                  They decided to host a large Thanksgiving get together for
                                                                                  the extended family and about 20 people were invited. They
                                                                                  had just moved here from the east coast so we had not been
                                                                                  to any of their dinners in the past and didn't know what to expect.

                                                                                  It was a cold and drizzly Thanksgiving afternoon when we arrived
                                                                                  at their house. It was in the low 40's outside. Inside the house
                                                                                  it wasn't much better. They said the furnace wasn't working
                                                                                  very well and thought something was wrong with the thermostat.
                                                                                  We all sat around in our coats, shivering. I offered to have
                                                                                  a look at their thermostat, having recently replaced my own.
                                                                                  They said, no that's ok, they had adjusted it and thought it would warm up on it's own shortly. Very cold air continued to come from
                                                                                  the forced air ducts. We sat around for an hour shivering
                                                                                  and I again offered help. Finally they said ok. I checked their
                                                                                  thermostat and found that they had it set to air conditioning
                                                                                  instead of heat. We had been freezing for two hours because
                                                                                  a switch was set to Cool instead of to Heat. The cold air
                                                                                  blowing from the forced air ducts had been air conditioning.

                                                                                  That wasn't the end of trouble. They had been in the house less
                                                                                  than a week and had not tested the electric oven. Only the broiler worked. The oven heating element was not working.
                                                                                  They had been trying to cook the whole, intact, turkey and pumpkin pies under the broiler and not told anyone. We could have baked the food at our house and brought it over if we had been informed.

                                                                                  They served a turkey (yes they served it) that was overdone and dry
                                                                                  on the outside and had raw pink meat on the inside. They tried to
                                                                                  carve the bird and serve the cooked parts. The pumpkin pies were
                                                                                  not much better. The food was awful.

                                                                                  They stayed in California about a year and moved back to the
                                                                                  east coast before the next Thanksgiving. That saved us from
                                                                                  another Thanksgiving dinner invitation.

                                                                                  That was our worst Thanksgiving ever. So far.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Antilope

                                                                                    They stayed in California about a year and moved back to the
                                                                                    east coast before the next Thanksgiving. That saved us from
                                                                                    another Thanksgiving dinner invitation.

                                                                                    Now that's cold......


                                                                                  2. It's been more than thirty years but I always remember it around this time of year--when I was eight we had a bigger than normal crowd at Thanksgiving because friends of my parents came down with their kids. The mom of this family insisted on bringing the turkey and my mom said fine. So she roasted a turkey and brought it down from Connecticut to New Jersey wrapped in foil. My mom put it in the oven to heat it up then brought it out for dinner (we always ate T-day dinner in mid-afternoon). It tasted ... strange. Turned out the turkey had been cooked a couple of days previously but never refrigerated. It also turned out the heating hadn't been enough to kill the bacteria it had picked up. By night time food poisoning was rampaging merrily through everyone but my non-turkey-eating brother. Eleven people erupting at both ends ... and only one bathroom. Utter hell. After that, Mom made ham for T-day. It took me decades to be able to eat turkey again.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: MandalayVA

                                                                                      Oh MandalayVA... that is terrible! Who cooks a turkey, leaves it out for 2 days and then serves it to guests? What was this person thinking?

                                                                                      1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                        If I remember correctly the turkey had been left in a screened patio, with the cook believing the November night time temperatures in Connecticut would be enough to save it. I saw her a few years ago and she was STILL apologizing.

                                                                                        1. re: MandalayVA

                                                                                          Wow... and I thought the year my vegetarian SIL cooked the turkey wrapped in bacon and drowned in butter was bad. Yes, this was the only time EVER in history that bacon and butter were bad... we thought she was trying to give the local heart surgeon some business.
                                                                                          Lesson to be learned here: Cook your own turkey. I always do.

                                                                                          1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                            The vegetarian is more likely to give the heart surgeon business than the carnivore if said carnivore avoids refined grains and sugar. Unfortunately most don't.

                                                                                            1. re: MandalayVA

                                                                                              MandalayVA: The vegetarian is more likely to give the heart surgeon business than the carnivore if said carnivore avoids refined grains and sugar

                                                                                              Why is that?

                                                                                    2. Oh sure, we've had the usual turkey roasted with the giblet bag still inside, turkey attempted to be cooked in the microwave (also with giblet bag inside if I recall correctly), half-frozen turkey, pumpkin pie with salt apparently mistakenly used instead of sugar by the new daughter in law. But what all-American dysfunctional family hasn't.

                                                                                      However, the worst Thanksgiving dinner I ever had was a few decades back when I was living in a snowy midwestern city with no family for thousands of miles around. I had to work that week so decided against traveling. After getting off the morning shift at 2 pm, I stopped at the local convenience store and got a microwaveable turkey dinner and ate it by myself in front of the TV.

                                                                                      In retrospect I'd been better off getting Chinese take out or volunteering to serve food at a homeless shelter.

                                                                                      1. A few years back, while working in a cheese shop, a customer spent a good bit of time with me picking out cheese for her T-day gathering. I helped her pair up cheeses with the other dishes, the wines, and gave her instructions on preparing the cheese plate. I advised her to set them out for at least 30 minutes to get to room temp. A few days later she informed me that while setting out, her cat ate all the cheese.
                                                                                        She was very upset, as she'd spent well over $50 on cheese. Bad T-day for her.
                                                                                        Now I always warn customers who have cats.

                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                          if that cat ate $50 worth of cheese, i feel sorry for the cat. (and where was the cheese that the cat had so much time alone with it?). ;-)).

                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                            She had put the cheese up on a shelf away from hungry family.
                                                                                            One of the cheeses was Truffle Tremor, a bit pricey, over $20 lb.
                                                                                            She did mention the cat had some nasty hair balls later.

                                                                                            1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                              When I bought Truffle Tremor a while back, it was $29.99/lb.

                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                did it make you tremor with delight?

                                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                  It does when you add a little to asparagus or mashed potatoes.

                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                    More at the price, it was very good but also went bad very quickly. I think the name has something to do with an earthquake?

                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                      If cut from a fresh wheel it should last a decent amount of time.
                                                                                                      Most people buy small amounts, 1/4lb., and use it up in one setting.

                                                                                                      1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                                        I bought a half lb so I could give half to someone who I knew loved it, but ended up not seeing her for 4 or 5 days after. Gave it to her anyway, but it was borderline. Best cheese shop in the world, but it does have to be shipped in from California I guess.

                                                                                              2. re: alkapal

                                                                                                I am sometimes amazed at how little cheese $50 can be: my taste in cheese is much more elevated than my bank account figures :-))

                                                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                  yes, i was thinking that -- depending on the cheese-- $50 may not go very far.

                                                                                            2. On the topic of Turkey cooking gone awry, there is this lovely story from CBCs Stuart McLean and the show "The Vinyl Cafe". Sure, its Christmas not US Thanksgiving, but still a lovely tale.


                                                                                              1. Well, I have to admit that my worst thanksgiving ever was 2003. My mom died the day before thanksgiving after a courageous battle with cancer. We drove from the DC suburbs to Pittsburgh (where she was to be buried) on Thanksgiving day. We were very lucky that a Boston Market near the hotel was open. I know we weren't the only ones eating there, because it was also near a hospital and families of patients ate there. I don't even remember what the food tasted like. I just remember how depressing it was. Thanksgiving hasn't been the same since, and I still can't drive by a Boston Market without a sudden feeling of sadness.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                  amy, please know that our hearts are with you as we read your post.

                                                                                                2. Quite a few times over the past 35 years I've found myself the lone American in some remote place on the globe where Thanksgiving is not celebrated. On the other hand, one time I was in Hanoi working with Vietnamese colleagues and a few expats. I had taken a couple of the expats to do some shopping. Later that night people had somehow figured out that it was my birthday. The whole group had gotten together and got me a hand blown glass vase from Iran that I had admired earlier. Total surprise! We all drank a lot of Viet liquor.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                    Sounds like one of the best to me! (and happy birthday, whenever it was or soon will be!)

                                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                      Happy Thanksgiving and a VERY happy birthday to you, Sam!

                                                                                                    2. The only bad Thanksgiving meals I've ever had weren't bad because of the food or the people -- they were because I was stuck on campus or in the office with no one else around. For years and years after college, I'd host "orphans' Thanksgiving" every year when I had to spend T-giving far from home and invite all the other stranded people I knew over so no one had to be alone. I am so grateful to have my dear ones around me this year and sincerely hope no one out there who observes this holiday is spending it by themselves.


                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: cimui

                                                                                                        Cimui, that is very sweet! Two of my guests today are far from home and would otherwise be alone. I love to be able to share the dinner with others. I just hope none of them start posts about my dinner being their worst!

                                                                                                        Have a wonderful time with your loved ones today :)

                                                                                                        1. re: iluvcookies

                                                                                                          >>I just hope none of them start posts about my dinner being their worst!

                                                                                                          =P I'm *sure* no one would do that.

                                                                                                          I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, too!

                                                                                                        2. re: cimui

                                                                                                          Thanksgiving is really tough for Americans living abroad -- we are well and truly the only ones who celebrate the holiday, so you really feel a long way from home when you're the only one who knows it's a holiday -- and an important one, at that. Europeans occasionally mention it, but they don't really understand just how big a deal Thanksgiving is for us.

                                                                                                          We're now a half a world apart from our loved ones - so we, too, have a Lost Little Lamb Thanksgiving with others who are a long way from their families, too. Last year we had a house full of people at our dinner -- and it was truly a great celebration. We had turkey and all the fixings, kids underfoot, noise, laughter, and general chaos - a REAL Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                          The best part was when two of the other expats who have been here for 15 years (and thus not celebrating Thanksgiving) pulled me into the kitchen to thank me for giving them a real Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                          Just started the shopping today for next week's celebration.

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            This made me smile, sunshine. :-) Enjoy your ex-pat Thanksgiving next week!

                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                              My husband, younger sister (she was the "baby sitter"), and I were once in Mazatlan over Thanksgiving with my infant son. I had won a week's stay at a condo there in some contest, and that week turned out to be the best one available. But we decided we wanted a real Thanksgiving dinner. Sis and I headed to the market, and found a turkey after some hunting. We were able to find much of the ingredients for the meal with some improvising (no cranberries in Mazatlan :-) and headed home to cook. Some (American) college students who were staying nearby saw us lugging the groceries up the stairs to our condo and offered to help. I still haven't decided if their main motivation was to hit on my sister (who was about their age) or to get at the food. Anyway, we ended up inviting them to dinner as well. They turned out to be good singer/guitar players, so they provided the music and the post-dinner tequila. It turned out to be one of my better holidays...:-)

                                                                                                            2. re: cimui

                                                                                                              Since my family and I live in San Francisco, where there are a lot of transplants far from family, I have always invited the orphans to dinner. Christmas too!

                                                                                                              In fact, this Christmas is specifically an orphan's Christmas dinner. I lost my Mum last year, so we decided that while we don't have the heart to put up our tree (Christmas was her favorite time and we have 100's of ornaments), we do want to have a big Christmas dinner with a lot of people around. Because the breaking of bread with friends and family is really the best way to celebrate the day.

                                                                                                              1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                I'm so sorry for the loss of your mother. I hope your Christmas dinner will be wonderful. In fact I'm certain it will be!

                                                                                                            3. My dad bought a "pre-cooked" frozen turkey one year that you heat up in the oven. I had to eat it to be polite, made me feel like gagging.

                                                                                                              1. This could be my worst. I'd planned for days how I was going to cook today's turkey: brine or no brine, what kind of rack, herbs or marinade. Mostly, I focused on cooking the turkey so I wouldn't think about how this is my first Thanksgiving without any of my kids. Granted, they are happy in their lives and happy where they are today, and I am grateful for that. But I miss them. Hence, turkey focus.

                                                                                                                Except that my husband took it on himself to cook the turkey, while I was asleep. He ignored all my plans, everything that I'd talked about, and just cooked it his way.

                                                                                                                Well, I must say, the fury shoved the sadness right out the window. I definitely feel better. And I'm still grateful for the continued health and happiness of my family ... well, most, anyway. : )

                                                                                                                A Thanksgiving filled with warmth and love and acts of kindness to everybody here. Bon appetit.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: miki

                                                                                                                  You saw it as ignoring your plans, Could he have thought he was helping out? Taking a burden off you on this day when you were so down about the Family being gone. Men do not think the way we do and he may not have known how much you were thinking about cooking that turkey unless you specifically told him so.

                                                                                                                  1. re: PurpleTeeth

                                                                                                                    He claims he was just thinking of me. You're so right; if only I'd had a "Manual of Men" when we first started out thirty years ago! LOL. I actually did tell him everything I was thinking about, concerning the turkey. But the guy is a control freak. He had in his mind that Thanksgiving dinner should be served at three, and darn it, he'd make it happen, even if we didn't have anybody to, well, serve.

                                                                                                                    I took a long drive, over to the Mississippi in Hastings, MN, and then came back and started Anna Karenina, because I decided that when I remembered this Thanksgiving, it wouldn't be the day he messed with my plans, but the day that I started Anna Karenina. And then we sat down and ate his turkey. He did a good job, I will admit. But then, he's an excellent cook. And he apologized and said that he wouldn't do that again.

                                                                                                                    I still do miss my kids, something fierce. I think I'm going to put down my foot about Christmas Eve; this family deserves its time, too.

                                                                                                                2. A number of years ago my wife and I were staying at the Holiday Inn in Nashua, New Hampshire. They were serving up a Thanksgiving buffet that we decided to skip, instead opting for having our dinner in some quaint restaurant that apparently existed only in our minds. Being from NYC it didn't occur to us that every single restaurant for miles around would be closed.

                                                                                                                  Anyway, we got in the car and started driving around, looking for someplace to have dinner. After a while, we realized that we should have eaten at the hotel after all, but now it was too late. Their service ended mid-afternoon, so we had missed that opportunity.

                                                                                                                  After driving for what seemed like another eternity, we finally found a Chinese restaurant open in a small strip mall on a two lane road. I still remember the name of the place: Toy Luck. We breathed a sigh of relief and headed on in.

                                                                                                                  There was a long line of locals waiting for tables and take-out. Apparently we: (a) were not the only ones who were not having the traditional meal, and (b) had stumbled upon the only place open for miles around.

                                                                                                                  Eventually we got to our table and ordered. The food was plentiful and inexpensive. And all of it came swimming in piles of grease. Yuch! Hungry as we were, we couldn't really stomach that food. Don't know how the locals could take it, but we could not. We had a few bites, paid the bill and left, sadder, wiser and still hungry.

                                                                                                                  We were really happy to see Friday roll around that year...

                                                                                                                  PS We still visit Nashua (gotta see the relatives), and Toy Luck is long gone. Having dinner in a restaurant on Thanksgiving in Nashua is now much more common, and the overall level of Chinese food there has really improved.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: BrookBoy

                                                                                                                    Same thing happened to my uncle and aunt the year they moved to Maine, although they seemed to have enjoyed their Chinese dinner since they told the story for years to come.

                                                                                                                    I was invited by the executive chef to the Easter buffet at the local Marriot (returning a favor), and since we didn't have plans with the family, we went. The food was great: traditional and also innovative dishes, and we were very pleased. Only time I ever did that, but I wouldn't be afraid to try it again. You never know!

                                                                                                                  2. The one where after about 5 hours of driving, years of my sister in law's verbal ugliness pointed at me came to a head and I slapped her. I'm not a violent soul at all, nor was I drunk.
                                                                                                                    So, of course we asked to depart, and ended up at some skanky bar for a calming beverage. Popcorn and peanuts were the menu of the day. But it tasted good. As did the Waffle House hash browns with ham onions and cheese that followed later. From a culinary standpoint, it was a disaster. But, hey it put me in a place where all of my holidays could only go up from there!

                                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                      This actually makes me cry. How terrible for everyone, but mostly for you.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mtngirlnv

                                                                                                                        Oh, don't cry! it was a long time ago and is kinda funny now. I'm way better without that person in my life and she certainly would never appreciate the awesome stuff I can crank out for a holiday meal, hehehe!

                                                                                                                        1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                          Well, it wasn't Thanksgiving in my distant past unless my mother insulted someone, a cousin hit another cousin (though we were kids), something got left in the oven, someone drank too much and much muttering of "Never again" in the car on the way home. So I understand!

                                                                                                                        2. re: mtngirlnv

                                                                                                                          alliegator's post actually elicited an "awesome!" from me, though I didn't have to live through it. Better to get those conflicts out in the open, I always say. And it does sound like a funny story. I hope all your Thanksgivings are much better than that, alliegator.

                                                                                                                        3. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                          My wife's sister-in-law is that sort -- nasty, attacking, belittling, demeaning. Threw a chair at my wife at a July Fourth gathering once.

                                                                                                                          1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                            Wow, after reading these last few posts, all I can say is let the dysfunction begin. I sincerely hope that things have improved in people's lives, at least for this year.

                                                                                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                              It improved in mine, I finally wised up and told them we weren't having anyone over this year. Feels real good, and I'll save money to boot.

                                                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                Excellent. I'm with the same bunch again this year, but we all get along, and even more so after some wine. Coll, I hope you have a great and peaceful holiday!

                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                  why thank you all, I should talk about slapping morons on food forums more often :D

                                                                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                    I get more of the passive-agressive BS, I'd love to see some punches thrown.

                                                                                                                              2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                """"all I can say is let the dysfunction begin"""""


                                                                                                                          2. This was probably about forty or more years ago. We had been married about two and a half years. The first year my wife had made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner using turkey as the showpiece. The next year a friend had been hunting and had shot a goose. He presented it to us. We decided on a Thanksgiving dinner with goose as the main course. I cooked it the same way as I had the turkey. What a disaster. It was so tough that the sharpest knife we had couldn't cut it. Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of side dishes and grilled cheese sandwiches.

                                                                                                                            18 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: porkpa

                                                                                                                              We had a Christmas like that. My Grampa got to waxing nostalgic about the fabulous goose dinners of his boyhood, so my mom tracked down a goose and cooked it. I don't know if we handled it incorrectly, or if that's just how goose is supposed to taste, but I remember being pretty grossed out by it. I just remember a really strange, rubbery texture and a sort of greyish tone.

                                                                                                                              1. re: dingey

                                                                                                                                Similar story. The Spouse went on for years about wanting a goose for Hanukkah and he refused to believe me when I told him he wouldn't like it. I finally broke down one year, spent far too much money on the silly thing, and gave it my best effort. Needless to say, no one liked it and it was the last I ever heard about roasting a goose. Grey and rubbery is pretty much what I remember, too.

                                                                                                                                1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                                  Rocky, I have a goose story too from my childhood. My Hungarian Jewish grandmother wanted a goose for Chanukah and had ordered a kosher one. She was cleaning it, trying to get all the fat out before roasting it and managed to slice her wrist open accidentally. Our Chanukah celebration ended up spending the evening in the ER. I don't actually recall eating the goose, but for some reason I remember really, really tasty latkes made from the gribenes (goose fat). Can't even think of goose, associate it with all that blood!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                                    goose prices are around $4.50/pound here. yeah, right, like i'd get suckered into that -- knowing how roast goose tastes and feels in the mouth. maybe it could be renamed "roast grease."

                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                      And the grinch....the grinch himself....carved...the roast grease.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                        They really are ridiculously expensive, but one looms on my Christmas menu by order of the lord of the manor. If it's done right (must be cooked well) and all the fat poured off repeatedly during cooking, it's quite tasty hot. The first time you have to eat it. Taste and texture rather like beef brisket. (I save the fat and throw the last year's stuff out when I get the new year's, no way even we can get through about 2 quarts of fat in a year.)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                          It took me about 3 yrs. to use up our 2 qts.. of goose grease ( still miss it), but it keep beautifully in the freezer.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                                                                                                                            I have to get a chest frezer, the fridge one is packed to the rafters.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                              I am using the freezer at work. I'll use it for extras and duplicates of things I have in my home freezer as well as all of the individual portions of things like soups and chili and leftovers that are great for lunch at work. Last week my co-worker had a taste for chili, and I whipped out a ziploc of homemade turkey chili :)

                                                                                                                                              I was sick of opening my home freezer and have something fly out right on my foot. OUCH!!!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                I just got the smallest chest freezer Home Depot offers; including tax and no charge for delivery, it was only $172. You have to defrost it once a year but I hear that's better than self defrosting freezers because they cycle on and off or something.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                  How many cbft? Dims? I'd need one you could get a half-sheet pan into.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                    This is the one I bought:

                                                                                                                                                    http://www.homedepot.com/Appliances-K..., which is 5 cu feet. I measured mine and it's about 28" wide, 32 1/2" high, 20 1/2" front to back...will hold a half sheet pan.

                                                                                                                                                    So, it's $168 plus tax (maybe mine was on sale for less because my total was $172. Now, the 7 cu foot one is the same price, down from $199.

                                                                                                                                                    So, free delivery and they'll haul away an old one, if you have one to get rid of.

                                                                                                                                                    For my needs and space, the smaller one is the best choice.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                      I just bought one this summer from Sears and specifically wanted one to accomodate half-sheets (and well, ice cream). I love it, works perfectly.
                                                                                                                                                      It's a Kenmore, 8.8 cu. ft.. $266 with tax. I LOVE IT.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rabaja

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks both, I think I'll have a quick word with Santa.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: porkpa

                                                                                                                                        my cousin once shot a turkey and his mother cooked it for thanksgiving (christmas?). i remember it was tough, gamey and had bird shot in it. :(

                                                                                                                                        my worst thanksgiving was the one year we did not go anywhere... I was working retail and had to work Wed and Fri, and it was a 6 hour drive to my mothers. So we decided to stay home. My then BF came over, I did my best. Then my family called while we were eating my dismal, runny blueberry pie. They sang me happy birthday (because my birthday is a couple days after) while I sobbed. I haven't missed a thanksgiving home since, and he totally understands (one of the many reasons I married him!)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                            lol. we were just talking about that this weekend - my sister's memory of that thanksgiving is totally different than mine, but she agreed the turkey was gross.

                                                                                                                                      3. Wow, after reading these last bunch of posts, all I can say is let the dysfunction begin!

                                                                                                                                        1. I was about 16 and went to my best friend's mother's friend's house for a Thanksgiving potluck in San Francisco. All of the adults were old artist (or wanna be artist) hippies. All the adults got super stoned; the hostess had to retire to the bedroom she was so out of it, her socks were mocking her, or so she thought.

                                                                                                                                          Then over a course of 3 hours we were served lettuce soup (awful, just god awful), a very lackluster lentil dish (no salt, very little spice either), and a small mound of mashed potatoes. They seemed have lost the ability to make the oven function properly, but then they finally managed to cook the chicken. Yes a chicken. A 5 lb. chicken for 12 people. We had brought the pies, so fortunately there was enough of that. I ate a lot of pie. Then when my friend and I had returned to my parent's place, we scavenged through the fridge for anything remotely food like.

                                                                                                                                          The teenagers didn't smoke any of the pot, as it was a no no, but we did steal wine when no one was looking.

                                                                                                                                          Absolutely the worst thanksgiving meal ever. Lettuce soup. That one still boggles my mind.

                                                                                                                                          However I now can laugh about it, and it's certainly made a good story to tell.

                                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                            Why on earth would anyone make lettuce soup? And how?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: guilty

                                                                                                                                              Okay, I'll say it. I've made lettuce soup, but in the summer. It's not something that says 'holiday' to me. I like it, served warm, with parmesan and croutons. It's made in the same manner as any soup based on greens, save for many are pureed at the end. I made it the first time out of curiosity.

                                                                                                                                              I wouldn't dare serve it at Thanksgiving. I already anticipate trouble since I'm making a cranberry hazelnut chutney, instead of cranberry sauce.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                i eat lettuce soup all the time and everyone i know teases me...but its good! on the weekends i work for a greenhouse that grows hydroponic lettuce and i always take home a santa sack full of the stuff. i started making it as a way to use up all the greens. i puree mine and eat it will all kinds of add ins.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: girleatseverything

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for not letting me take the heat alone. ;) It really is a great soup to serve with sandwiches, as most of the soups I make wind up a bit heavier than this one. I love it with BLTs, or a grilled muenster cheese sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                    I'm sure lettuce soup could be good. This one was lettuce, with a watery veggie broth. No croutons, no seasoning, no cheese. Just wilted lettuce in a puddle of weak broth. Awful stuff.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                      Nearly any soup would be bad, prepared in that manner. We've all had dishes that were comprised of recipe+ingredient+heat, without regard to method, or seasoning, that were awful. I just thought that few enough here had had lettuce soup (as it ought to be), that I felt I ought to butt in.

                                                                                                                                                      I once had a boyfriend make a lemon chicken for me. He'd been bragging about how good this lemon chicken was, and after two years of living together, I left him alone in the kitchen to do his thing. He served me a plate or a white gummy-looking chicken breast, with a pool of liquid. The chicken was dry, and the liquid tart beyond any lover of sour could stomach.

                                                                                                                                                      It turned out that he'd never actually made them before, but had only watched, and remembered a few things: chicken, lemon juice, cornstarch, there was a frying pan involved, and liquid (he thought water). At least he took a taste and laughed, apologizing.

                                                                                                                                                      But that was a random day, and not on Thanksgiving. I worked at a hippie cafe, and that thanksgiving of yours sounds like every 'family' dinner/meeting I attended, lentils and all, stomach growling at the end.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                        oadl, your lemon chicken experience reminds me of an episode of the 90's TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond; his first dinner with his future wife Debra was lemon chicken, she asked him if he liked it, and he said something to the effect of yes, he could eat it every night. Little did he know Debra would pretty much take him seriously. As fans of the show know, Ray's wife was not a very good cook.

                                                                                                                                                        In keeping with bad Thanksgiving dinner stories, Ray's mother Marie made a tofurky one year, in an effort to cook a fat free meal. Now nothing wrong with Tofurky, but this prop was the worst looking rubbery tofurky I've ever seen.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                          I remember that episode, and remember laughing, and also remembering how I had, at the age of twenty-one, been chastised by that same boyfriend, who *loved* my 'Italian' chicken, to please not serve it less than once a fortnight. Okay, he didn't say 'fortnight', because this was the same guy who demanded I talk him to sleep one night, and so I launched into a lazy rendition of Beowulf. At the end, he sleepily said, "That was amazing, did you make that up just now?" "Yes," I said. "I did."

                                                                                                                                                          Italian Chicken: Chop a pound of chicken breasts into cubes, toss with flour, salt, and pepper, and saute in a few tablespoons of oil until golden. Add the jarred sauce of your choosing (mine was canned Hunts, as directed by Mom). Simmer ten minutes, and then add parmesan (green can, please). Stir, and then ladle over very soft fettuccine.

                                                                                                                                                          There's no recipe for karma.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                            hahahaha. No, no recipe for karma.

                                                                                                                                                            Italian Chicken could have been one of Debra's specialties Ray would have really enjoyed.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                              If only his mother wouldn't have switched the labels on the dried herbs.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                Right, tarragon in the meatballs. Under other circumstances or with other types of ground meat that may have been ok, but not as a falvoring for an Italian style meatball, haha.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                              I think you may have been at one of my husband's long lost friends house in San Fran, no wonder I was skinny back then! Food was definitely secondary to other things, at least for them. But one "girlfriend" of someone who never partook was my inspiration to get into cooking, she would slap a cast iron pot on the stove when it was her turn and whip up some kind of wonderful stew, or maybe it seemed wonderful due to the lack of other sustenance. Other times, as you say, you were lucky to have some potato chips and Lipton onion dip.

                                                                                                                                            3. I've had so many, I don't know where to begin.

                                                                                                                                              Growing up we would probably have 20-24 people at a big table. Duplicate plates of everything would be at either ends. God forbid two plates of anything ended up at the same end. My father would throw a fit.

                                                                                                                                              Ahhh...that Thanksgiving Day I discovered the difference between a direct and non-stop flight as I was flying from Los Angeles to Chicago (both clear) and got stranded in Denver.

                                                                                                                                              3 years ago was when I first moved to TX. I was in a horrible barn apartment and ended up at Boston Market since all of my kitchen stuff was packed away in my horse trailer, it was snowing, and by the time I finally got to Boston Market they had little left.

                                                                                                                                              Past two years haven't been any better since they were at ex-bf's parents. Whataburger napkins and condiments and no turkey but plenty of brisket, and I don't eat beef. Overcooked vegetables and lots of processed everything. Oh, and NO alcohol. Maybe a nice glass of wine would have helped, his one "semi-normal" brother and sil were downing sparkling cider like it was Dom Perignon.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                                                Glad to hear he's an "ex" just in time for the holidays! Sometimes it's better to be alone.

                                                                                                                                              2. I was working at a newspaper on a Pacific island in the early 90s. It was my first Thanksgiving away from my family, and I was thousands of miles from home. There are no holidays for daily newspapers, so a bunch of us were scheduled to work. We made plans to bring in potluck dishes to share. But a typhoon struck the night before. Thanksgiving Day brought power and water outages and a lot of news to cover. The newsroom had only emergency lights, and we took turns working at the few computers that were running -- most of the building's generator power had to be routed to the presses. The bathrooms featured oil drums full of water, because you had to fill up the toilets before you could flush. And of course nobody had much time or inclination to bring in food. But one guy on our staff cooked an entire turkey dinner on his gas grill and brought it to us in the newsroom. The setting was lacking, but the food was great.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Eloise

                                                                                                                                                  Doesn't seem like the worst......or even the best......but in contention for the most memorable.

                                                                                                                                                  Nice story.

                                                                                                                                                2. Last year was hands-down the worst. Other than the over-cooked turkey, every other dish at the table was straight out of a can or box. Dry turkey, three different kinds of canned veggies, microwaved and set on table (no seasoning). A box of Stove Top, a reheated tub of pre-made mashed potatoes (truly the best part of the meal) and a grocery-store pie, not even heated. That part I don't mind so much-I have long since given up the notion that holiday meals are supposed to be culinary achievements. But my dear hubby's grandmother insisted on letting her dog sit next to her, and PROCEEDED TO SHARE HER DINNER WITH THE DOG. They shared a fork. As in, she would take half a bit off her fork, then pass the fork to the dog for him to finish the bite. Repeat. I almost vomited. I am sooo glad that grandma will be spending her Thanksgiving with her neighbors this year :)

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: iambecky

                                                                                                                                                    ooh, most of my MILs meals are pre-made, processed, stove top, overcooked, you name it! I'm cooking this year, yipee! :)

                                                                                                                                                  2. We were living in Mexico City, my wife sneezed and went paralyzed from the shoulders down and had to have an emergency spinal operation to correct partially the paralysis. The hospital kitchen prepared us their version of TDay meal. Worst ever. Nice gesture and appreciated but.

                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ryback

                                                                                                                                                      That's terrible! Now I have fear of sneezing. I hope your spouse has recuperated.

                                                                                                                                                      I think traditional Mexican fare would have been better that a interpreted T-day menu, but it was a very nice gesture by the kitchen staff.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                        Ummm, mole poblano. Now there's an idea.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                          Exactly, the classic Mexican version with turkey.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: ryback

                                                                                                                                                        I hope her recovery has continued & that this year's T'day goes better.

                                                                                                                                                      3. two come to mind.

                                                                                                                                                        one was my first year in Los Angeles - an old friend invited me to accompany him to a colleague's family's house for dinner. everything was straight out of a box or can, and the turkey and stuffing were both beyond overcooked and dry as a bone. dessert was no better - store-bought frozen pumpkin and apple pies that they heated in the *microwave.* fortunately i had brought two batches of brownies that i had baked, so we chowed down on those :)

                                                                                                                                                        the other was a couple of years ago at a friend's house back in NJ. when i arrived *on time* she was still in her pajamas and the kitchen was total chaos.

                                                                                                                                                        first there was the salmon spread she had set out as an appetizer - it was made with really awful packaged lox and had taken on an artificial bright orange hue...it had also formed a rather unappetizing crust on top. i asked her when she had put it out, and she shrugged and said it had probably been there for about 4 hours. needless to say i opted not to partake. i had brought a roasted carrot spread and my black bean dip with crudites, so i dug into those instead.

                                                                                                                                                        as for the turkey, she had kept it in a wet brine for 48 hours, and then her digital thermometer wouldn't register above 150 even after the turkey had been in the oven for about 4 hours at 400 degrees. she insisted that she didn't want to serve it until it reached 165, so she kept the turkey in the oven for an extra 90 minutes before finally deciding the thermometer was broken since it was STILL reading 150. that poor bird. by the time we sat down to dinner nearly 2 hours late, it was dry as sandpaper, shriveled, and so salty i couldn't even swallow it. and she had kept the mashed potatoes on the stove heating for the entire time as well, so they were gluey and awful.

                                                                                                                                                        i had brought homemade cranberry sauce and my roasted brussels sprouts with anchovy, lemon & capers, so i pretty much made a meal out of those...and fortunately i had been tasked with bringing dessert as well :)

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                          Wow, that's bad. Perhaps they should have come to your house empty handed, would have been a much better deal for eveyone involved.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                            i tried! she insisted she wanted to do it. her adorable daughters became two of my biggest fans for saving Thanksgiving. they started calling me "the great chef" and asking their mom if they could come to my place for dinner :)

                                                                                                                                                        2. Tradition at my parents house is that dessert is served about 2-3 hours after Thanksgiving proper in order to let the first round of food digest to some degree. My junior year in college, I found myself barely able to keep my eyes open at dinner, but assumed it was because I'd been up at 5:00am to go help time at a turkey trot run.

                                                                                                                                                          After dinner, I went over and fell asleep on the couch. Understand that I stopped afternoon naps when I was about six weeks old, much to the disappointment of my Mom. Parents tried to wake me up, but I apparently just kept mumbling at them that I wanted to go back to bed. I ended up MISSING DESSERT (which is a big deal because everyone actually does the from scratch desserts instead of just sticking to the store cookies and five gallon lots of ice cream test flavors Uncle Bob used to get us) and then sleeping for about 30 of the following 36 hours.

                                                                                                                                                          Verdict- that year's version of influenza. I'm just glad that I somehow didn't manage to pull a typhoid Mary and get a whole bunch of other people in my family sick because I'd like sneezed on the dinner rolls or something.

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                                                            "'m just glad that I somehow didn't manage to pull a typhoid Mary and get a whole bunch of other people in my family sick because I'd like sneezed on the dinner rolls or something."
                                                                                                                                                            i'm sure my Mom's answer to the worst T-day query would be the one where we found out *after* the fact that the housekeeper - who had handled the food and all the tableware - had hepatitis. she had to call every one of the 20-plus guests and tell them to go to the hospital to get checked out and tested!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                                                              I did that a few years ago -- had a scratchy throat on Thanksgiving, so took an aspirin and didn't think too much about it. Not a lot of sneezing or coughing, just a scratchy throat and that feeling that all is not right.

                                                                                                                                                              The next morning, I was immobilized by one of the worst flus I've had in years. By Sunday, EVERYBODY had scratchy throats, including my grandparents, who are in their 90s.

                                                                                                                                                              I STILL feel guilty.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I can't think of anything bad I have ever had on Thanksgiving except for not caring for any of the homemade cranberry sauces/relishes I have ever tried.

                                                                                                                                                              This is not a dish anyone made for me, but probably the most pathetic Thanksgiving I ever had. I had volunteered to work that day at what was a new job at the time. I was manning the bar in the lobby of a hotel and dinner was being served down the hall... (It was really dead in my bar because they had apparently rearranged the setup of how things would flow from previous years...) One year there I know I got to eat some leftover food off a heat cart with some other employees, but I am not thinking it was this particular time... Anyway, my ex boyfriend went out of state to see his family for the holiday without me so I was home alone when I got out of work. I talked to my dad for awhile on the phone.

                                                                                                                                                              My dinner ended up being what was left of some old TGI Friday's potato chips that were still around because they weren't very good when they were fresh and first opened. I also had an entire bottle of Berringer Chenin Blanc to wash it down, while I was on the phone, and passed out between the couch and the coffee table.

                                                                                                                                                              And on pay day I found out that I did not qualify for holiday pay because I was a new employee so I had worked that crappy slow day for nothing, just about. LOL

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MrsJTW

                                                                                                                                                                the only good thing I can think of is that your Thanksgivings can only get better. (!!)

                                                                                                                                                              2. I was in Uncle Sam's Canoe Club for most of the 70's, and while we were in port (in the US or elsewhere) for many holidays, there were times we were at sea for a holiday. The menu for holidays, as it was for any other day, was up to the chief in charge of the mess.

                                                                                                                                                                The chief on my first ship thought holidays were special and planned accordingly. So the first Thanksgiving at sea was actually pretty good. Real roast turkey, boiled shrimp, all the fixings, even an ice sculpture. It was really good...better than home made. (Mom, while a very good cook, never had shrimp or an ice sculpture.) I have pictures of it in one of my photo albums.

                                                                                                                                                                So it came as a shock when I spent my second Thanksgiving day at sea a couple of years later on a different ship, and dinner was typical Navy chow. That day it was open-faced "roast beef" sandwiches...with "all the trimmings." The chief on that ship felt that every day was the same, holiday or not, and no "special meals" were ever served.

                                                                                                                                                                1. Ex-mother in law's dinner: boneless turkey breast, been in Popiel roaster for hours (set it & forget it), heavily salted. Ham pre-sliced into medallions, placed in corning dish of water and set in oven to bake away into jerky. Stove Top stuffing. Potato Buds. Can of Heinz gravy. No.salt added canned green beans. Pumpkin pie made with unsweetened canned pumpkin and no added sugar ("I've got Equal or Sweet n Lo you can sprinkle on top"). Powdered lemonade, tap water, or powdered milk to drink.

                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Fraujoolie

                                                                                                                                                                    Wow, just terrible. The best part was the Stove Top stuffing and that's a big stretch.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                      Fiji, Forbe's Island, in the mid 90s. The cook had no idea how to cook a frozen boneless turkey, (probably frozen for a few years!!) We ended up with a stew of curried coconut turkey preceeded by a Kava Kava ceremony with the workers on the Island. It was a good Thanksgiving in spite of the main course!!!

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Fraujoolie

                                                                                                                                                                      Fraujoolie: That's not a meal, that's an act of passive-agressiveness at its very finest.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. i just realized the most positive thing about this thread. no one has posted about *this* year's meal being the worst :)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I believe my grandparents were ill one year--and they typically host--therefore, we ended up having to stay at my parents home. That night there was a huge storm and the sewer started backing up into our bathrooms. Eventually when we secured the bathrooms (from overflowing with sewage into the halls), we finally had the 'Thanksgiving meal.' Unfortunately we did not have a meal prepared since we were supposed to go to relatives.. and we were too tired to go out.. so we had pancakes from a box.