Friday, November 18, 2011


Thanksgiving (in the USA) is November 24th this year, and I don't really have any thoughts about it.  Maybe that's because I'm a man, or maybe I'm just empty of thoughts.  But I have no real thoughts about it, so I thought dig around in my brain and see what I could find.

When I was a young child in eastern Kentucky, Turkey was not part of our Thanksgiving tradition.  I'm not sure why that is, but I'll put forth a hypothesis and maybe it will fly. 

My thinking goes like this.  My grandparents, all four of them, were 19th century people.  They were raised by people firmly rooted in the 19th century, and those traditions and values were passed on to them.   Land and farming were very important to them.  They grew their own food - not only tons of vegetables, but fruit too (especially apples) and they also raised cattle and pigs.  Big pigs. And sometimes rabbits.  There was always a mule about, and it's basic function was for plowing.  Grandpa plowed behind a mule, just like people had done in the "old timey" days.

They weren't completely self-sufficient, they'd buy flour, sugar, coffee, stuff like that.  But virtually everything else, they grew or raised.  It was very hard work - I don't think I ever appreciated how hard they worked.  I remember Grandma saying they worked "like dogs" and they kept at it until they hit their early 80s and just could not do it anymore.

I don't remember either set of my grandparents raising or hunting Turkeys.  I'm not sure there were any Turkeys around to hunt anyway.  I don't know what they raised before my time, fowl wise, but I never remember them raising any winged creatures other than yard birds - sometimes referred to as chickens.

They did, however, raise hogs.  And hogs were slaughtered & butchered when it was cold, and I recollect that the main dish at my earlier Thanksgivings was ham - so I have a feeling I was eating one of my grandparent's pigs.  It may have been one from the previous season, they had a smoke house & electricity so they could store stuff for long periods.  I don't know.  I just know that Turkey was not part of the Thanksgiving meal.  To this day Turkey is not something I really look forward to.

I've seen the Norman Rockwell paintings so I know Turkey had be firmly established as a traditional Thanksgiving food by the time I sprouted forth.  But it wasn't traditional for my family, and I suspect it wasn't for almost everybody around there at that time.  It was different back then. 

I suppose this counts as a Thanksgiving thought. 


Patti Anne said...

I like ham, too. But turkey legs were good, weren't they?

Ivanhoe said...

We had a pig-killing tradition in Czech, too. Most of the families in the country raised their piggy and then killed it in November and the meat & goodies lasted them whole winter...

A Valdese Blogger said...

Patti Anne: Yes they were

Ivanhoe: It was the same way in Kentucky - the pig was slaughtered when it got good and cold, usually November.