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Thanksgiving Blunders

Thanksgiving Blunders

As we are approaching Thanksgiving Day, my family and I are planning our meal, going over all the details of what to serve, and listing our favorite dishes that everyone insists be included in the feast. I’m proud to contribute my homemade cranberry sauce again this year (recipe below), and am pretty excited for the many traditional side dishes that go along with the turkey. In fact, I look forward to some of them more than the turkey itself.

Unless of course you forget to serve them! This happened to us several years ago. It’s my family’s famous “Thanksgiving blunder” story:

Don’t Forget the Veggies

We were finishing up our big meal, and getting ready to cut the pie, only to realize that all of the vegetable side dishes that we worked so hard to make were still warming in the oven. We never served them. Creamed onions, squash, green bean casserole, Brussels sprouts, baked sweet potatoes. The funniest part was that no one noticed — we were obviously happy with turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes and enjoying the meal together. It’s a story we tell every year — “Don’t forget the veggies!”

Magnolia Twigs, In A Pinch?

Peter, the Farmers’ Almanac web developer, shared his story of one Thanksgiving in Georgia, when he was in charge of cooking the turkey that was perfectly smoking outside on the grill. With 2 hours to go, he ran out of charcoal. Panicked, he raced around town trying to find not only a store that was open on Thanksgiving Day, but one that carried charcoal. He visited seven different stores and EVERY ONE was out. He resorted to using Magnolia twigs from the backyard and hickory chips to keep the fire going at the correct temperature to finish the job. But it worked! Talk about innovation.

A Meal Even The Dogs Love

Then there’s my friend Sue, who has my favorite story of all, serving her first Thanksgiving dinner as a new bride to her family and new in-laws. Twelve hungry guests all gathered around the table waiting for the main attraction. Sue brought in the entire carved turkey on a platter but tripped on the rug, and sent the turkey pieces flying through the air, which her two dogs expertly caught before they even hit the ground. She cried for hours (but can laugh about it now).

Do you have a Thanksgiving blunder you’re brave enough to share in the comments below? One that makes you laugh every year when you tell it? Here’s to hoping this year is blunder-free.

In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for whole cranberry sauce, which is so easy and delicious, you’ll wonder why you ever open a can of the stuff. And it’s pretty foolproof, so no blunders here, guaranteed.

Easy Whole Cranberry Sauce

Once you make it homemade you’ll never open a can again. Makes 2 ½ cups, enough for leftovers.


1 12 ounce bag whole cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar


Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan. You’ll hear the cranberries “pop.” Boil for about 7 minutes over medium heat, then remove from heat. Let cool completely. Using a potato masher, lightly mash the cranberries (you won’t get them all). Put in a glass container, cover, and chill overnight. Serve at your Thanksgiving table!

Note: Don’t make it too far in advance but it does keep for about a week.

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  • Marge says:

    My mom used to crush the fresh cranberries in the manual meat grinder. I loved pushing them down and hearing them pop through. Then she would boil them with the sugar and water, and chill them.

  • Nea says:

    Made to pumpkin pies from scratch and forgot the sugar in them……that won’t ever happen again…..I had to toss them out, as good a pumpkin pie is, without sugar it sure isn’t very tasty.

  • Kat Stewart says:

    Great ideas, especially the tip about mashing some of the cranberries for the sauce. I’ll be using it when I make my cranberry chutney.?

  • Tylene Berman says:

    One year, when I was a girl, my Mother’s boss generously gave her a frozen turkey. Our hands were full as we headed to the car, me being the lucky one to be carrying the bird, so I placed it on the roof of the car while opening the car door. Except, I never removed it and my distracted Mom never noticed…until it came flying off of the car, landing in the roadway. With it surprisingly still intact,(I guess being frozen helped), I hastened to retrieve that prized bird. But sadly, out of nowhere a car came speedily into view and we watched helplessly as they aimed right for it. Never slowing down, they hit that turkey and the body went one direction as a leg flew off in another. My poor Mother has never recovered from that ?

  • Wanda Castonguay says:

    It was the first Thanksgiving I was making dinner for my in-laws who were coming from out of town. I was so excited! I was up at 4:30 am to prepare the turkey and get it in the oven for our noon meal. In the midst of Thanksgiving prep, I had a 2 month old and 6 year old that I was also getting ready for the day. The in-laws arrived, everything was going well…UNTIL…I went to take the turkey out of the oven. It was raw. I forgot to turn the oven on and didn’t notice since I was sooo busy with everything else. Luckily, we found a grocery store that was open and we were able to get a couple of roast chickens. Needless to say, I didn’t make Thanksgiving dinner the following year.

  • Jeffrey Geiger says:

    One of the first Thanksgiving meals I cooked completely on my own was for my father, brother, and uncle. We rented a house in Las Vegas for the weekend and I was in charge of the food. We had everything – turkey, stuffing, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, the whole 9. Since time was an issue, I grabbed a frozen turkey. I didn’t realize you need to thaw those suckers before throwing them in the oven. The outside breast meat was perfect. The inside meat was still a block of ice. I’ll never make that mistake again.

  • Bev says:

    Hosting my first thanksgiving for both my family and my husbands family over 20 years ago I wanted everything. With limited oven space I planned on making the pumpkin pie the evening before…. after getting home from my retail job after 10 pm. Without thinking and since the pie crust mix made enough for two crusts, I made the pumpkin pie with a top pie crust. To this day without fail every year my brothers ask why my pumpkin pie doesn’t have a top pie crust.

  • Debbie says:

    When I was a young wife, I placed the turkey in the oven for its usual timed cooking of 4 hours. Unbeknownst to me, the ovens temperature thermometer had broken. We kept smelling this gross smell. Well after 4 hours my bird was so overcooked the leg bones were black and my husband cracked them off. Thank goodness for gravy,because it was the driest turkey in the entire USA that year. We are still laughing after 35 years!!

  • laura says:

    every year my dad would make the thanksgiving turkey with rich delicious gravy made from the drippings, but it was always a sore spot with my mother, who could not make gravy to save her life. finally after an argument one year my dad gave in to her wish to let her make the bird and gravy. the bird was fine but she somehow (i now make the family meal and cant for the life of me figure out how she screwed up the gravy) but it was a horrific mess, so she sent my dad out to the store to buy canned gravy. now growing up with homemade gravy, there are lumps, usually pieces of meat and whatnot, but being little and not knowing any better, i saw the gravy and i asked “where the lumps?” my mother got so upset but my dad and grandmother lost it, now the running joke with the gravy is “so close to homemade, it even has the lumps in it” when canned or jarred gravy is served.

  • Pete Geiger says:

    My parents moved their young family from NJ to Maine. During our first Thanksgiving dinner my mother pulled the bird out of the oven and placed it outside to cool. Upon retrieving it, she was horrified to discover an animal consumed half of it. Undeterred my dad cut the portion eaten by the animal off and we feasted on the rest. Everyone slept well that night. For my mother it was a lesson learned.

  • Susan Higgins says:

    Lee Farnzen, that’s so funny! Love it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lee Franzen says:

    One year my mother made gravy with the fat from the turkey rather than the drippings. Everyone was too polite to say something. We realized after dinner when we were putting away the leftovers why the gravy was so greasy.

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