Like Thanksgiving without the Turkey

by Patti Richter

Some memories stand out within the annals of holidays past—for better or worse reasons.

I recall my first Thanksgiving holiday away from home due to threatening weather. My college friend and housemate, Rhonda, could not drive the distance to join her family either. So we hatched a plan for our own little feast on Thursday—the very next day. We thought to invite a friend from our Bible study group who would otherwise be alone. Kirk surprised us in return, saying, “I could bring the turkey! My company just handed them out to all the employees.”

Kirk planned to come early and hang out with us while the turkey roasted. Meanwhile, Rhonda and I—novice cooks at best—planned to prepare some basic side dishes and a pumpkin pie to complete the traditional menu.

On Thanksgiving Day, we set the dining table with 1970s green and gold dishes as the fragrance of cinnamon wafted through the house. Kirk arrived, and with a pleased smile, he handed us a heavy bag containing the turkey—still in its wrapping and frozen solid!

Our little triangle of young adults, suddenly subdued, must have resembled those well-known TV characters: wide-eyed, disbelieving Lucy; disappointed, slump-shouldered Ethel; and poor old Fred, wishing the girls had given him better instructions.

The disappointment of missing that central dish of Thanksgiving gave way to an abundance of laughter for days. It further provided an enduring remembrance of a holiday, and it possibly served to sharpen each of our critical thinking skills.

Although I went on to better success in the kitchen, I still have instances where a meal goes wrong. It’s usually when I’m distracted. My oldest granddaughter recalls one of my mishaps and still teases me if she knows I’m preparing chicken casserole: “Don’t forget to add the chicken, Grandma!”

The main ingredient of most recipes is so obvious that we assume we’ll remember it. Thanksgiving can be this way too—not only concerning dinner items but regarding the reason behind the celebration. Neglecting to offer thanks to God on the occasion specifically dedicated to this purpose is something like forgetting to prepare the turkey.

A wayward culture attempts to redirect our Thanksgiving focus by urging appreciation for those who serve us. Romans 1:21 speaks of this departure from acknowledging our Creator: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (ESV). Even worse, we commonly hear public prayers addressed to departed loved ones instead of to God, in the name of the One who rose from the dead. Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 ESV).

One way to keep a right focus at Thanksgiving is by thanking God each day, not just at mealtimes but at every opportunity. The apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” and “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4, 6 ESV).

Thanksgiving is one big opportunity to share our faith with families and friends through offering gratitude to our Provider. Let’s not forget this main ingredient.

O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth . . . You visit the earth and water it . . . You crown the year with your bounty. –Psalm 65:5, 9, 11 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Does your family remember to thank God at Thanksgiving? Do you have a tradition on that to share?

5 thoughts on “Like Thanksgiving without the Turkey

  1. I laughed at this blog and the memories of our Thanksgiving meals that went awry.

    My first Thanksgiving as a newlywed, we bought a frozen turkey the night before Thanksgiving. I read that I could fast thaw by bathing the turkey in cold water.

    Hubby invited friends over that night and as each used our bathroom, they questioned why the turkey was taking a bath.

    The next day, the mostly-thawed turkey was about to be placed in the roasting pan when it “jumped” from my hands and skidded across the floor. After another bath, and 6 hours later, I served a delicious turkey dinner without the trimmings — because we had eaten them earlier waiting for the turkey to cook. Memorable.

    Probably the best Thanksgiving dinner is one of joy and gratitude — culinary mishaps or not.

    Thanks, Patti! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Terri. I enjoyed reading about you bath-loving turkey. I once had one skid across the floor after cooking! I had only one little mishap today–didn’t realize the cavity was hiding a plastic bag of gravy. So that gravy came out piping hot! (Don’t worry, I didn’t use it). Hope you had your turkey WITH the trimmings today.


  2. Patti, I loved this, and laughed, recalling my similar plight as a young military mom, that Thanksgiving my husband was on a year remote. I invited my in-laws from out of state to join my children and me for the holiday. It was the 1970s and I had just bought one of those “new-fangled gadgets” called a microwave. No time to read detailed instructions. I was excited that it would thaw and cook my frozen turkey in minutes rather than hours. Needless to say, we had no turkey for Thanksgiving that year. My mother-in-law’s classic line? “Howard! We’re never getting one of THESE things. They don’t work!” I always wanted to impress my in-laws. That year I did. 😎 Happy Thanksgiving !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, this sounds like something I might have done. But I’ve never heard of cooking a turkey in the microwave! I do read directions but I always seem to miss a line. Today I missed the line about adding the crumble topping after the pie cooks for 20 minutes. I added it before cooking, and scooping it off wasn’t an option. The pie tasted fine, and I won’t tell anyone but you–ha.


  4. If you have experienced the shock of realizing the turkey isn’t unthawed, raise your hand! Hmmmm. I notice every hand is raised. Yes, we all have enjoyed laughs for years to come about THAT turkey. And what a great reminder, Patti, that every disaster has the potential for joy and gratitude.We just have to look at it through the lens of joy. Thanks for sharing!


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