Ham or Turkey?

Susan says…


Tomorrow’s the big day. Probably the most significant day of the year when it comes to food.  For this one day, the entire nation focuses on a single glorious meal. Families and friends come together around the table to enjoy a spread often steeped in tradition.

My childhood memories of Thanksgiving always includes these components:

  • A turkey. The turkey has never thrilled me. I hate to say it, but in my experience, the turkey is always on the dry side. For someone who likes to “choke things down dry”, I would end up using gravy, on the smallest piece my mom would accept, just to tolerate it.  My dad, on the other hand, is like the Dad in “A Chirstmas Story”, chomping at the bit to get a taste of the meat before Mom says it’s ready. He loves turkey for the leftovers.  Turkey sandwiches on white sandwich bread is his specialty. Ron likes to inject his turkey with secret spicy concoctions and then deep-fry it. This is by far the best turkey I have tasted, but I would much rather just eat spaghetti.


  • The sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top. Unfortunately, this item kept me from enjoying sweet potatoes for a long, long time.  In my opinion, the sweet potatoes in this well-intended dish are tasteless. The marshmallows are there to add more sweetness, I suppose, but I think they are grody. When I grew up and started cooking my own Thanksgiving dinners, I would serve baked sweet potatoes topped with a Paula Deen-sized hunk of butter, a healthy scoop of brown sugar and a generous sprinkling of cinnanmon. My baked sweet potatoes would have qualified as dessert.
  • The hunting. The men in my mom’s family are hunters. If we spent Thanksgiving in the “country” (Terra Alta, WV), the men were up before dawn, headed to “The Homeplace” on the mountain to bag a buck.  I do not remember seeing anyone eat deer, though…
  • Pumpkin pie. Who ever thought it was a good idea to make a dessert out of a vegetable, anyway? I just don’t get pumpkin pie and I don’t like it. Are people making it simply because they feel obligated?


  • The congealed cranberry sauce out of a can. Admit it. Your family served this, too. As a child, I did not realize that you could buy actual cranberries in the produce section. I never ate this dish even though it was on every Thanksgiving table I can recall. There was no effort made to disguise its origin, either. Even the indentations from the grooves in the can were visible as the gelatinous cylander gently wobbled on the serving dish as more appetizing bowls were passed from hand to hand right over top of it.
  • The rolls. The fabulous, wonderful, yummy, homemade rolls. Oh, how I love the rolls! I truly believe I could have eaten the entire pan of rolls all by myself if those pesky adults would have left me to them. My dad and I would bogart a basket of the soft, yeasty dollops of heaven and place it between us at the table so extras were easily within our reach, and out of the reach of everyone else!
  • My Grandmas. Without a doubt, the very best thing about Thanksgiving for me was spending time with my Grandmothers. Whether it was in the country with Grandma Sypolt or in Clendenin, WV with Grandma Maxine, the sun rose and set for me in those two women.  I miss them both.

What are your favorite dishes from Thanksgivings past? What are your odd family traditions?  Do you prefer ham or turkey?

Whatever you eat tomorrow, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!!

10 responses to “Ham or Turkey?

  1. Ham. To the point that my folks fry me up a slab special.

    You say you never ate deer. Did your menfolks ever actually kill one? That could explain hunting but no eating….

  2. There were plenty of stuffed deer heads hanging on the walls.

  3. My family & friends rave about my “Cheesy Onions” at Thanksgiving: tiny, perfect pearl onions in a simple, savory cheddar sauce. Hey, it’s got onions, it’s got cheese. It’s like the perfect side dish!

  4. her new manfolk kills deer..

    Shoots the daddies..
    Shoots the mommies
    Shoots the babies….

    Shit I even shoot the eggs!!!

    Sex Pistols ~ who killed bambi

  5. My mom still serves the cranberry sauce from a can, even though she’s the only one that eats it. I tried last year to get her to not serve it, but she insisted because it’s “tradition.” I like turkey ok, but to me it’s better the next day cold on a sammie. At dinner on T-Day, I eat the ham and turkey both, but I like the “dark” ham and the end piece that’s crusty from the glaze.

  6. I love the charred sweet glaze on the ham. We are also having a spiral ham tomorrow. This will be the best Thanksgiving food ever. Prime rib and ham. And chocolate cake!

  7. Turkey. Although I personally would prefer a nice Smithfield ham (or even better a nice beef rib or tenderloin roast), tradition wins in our family so it’s turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes. I’m not big on casserole type side dishes either. I like my vegetables omne at a time and simply cooked. I like pecan pie better than pumpkin too.

  8. I was thinking that Brussels Sprouts roasted in the oven would be good.

  9. I think one of the most disgusting side dishes that seems to be a requirement (never in our house-mom hates it and I’m glad) at Thanksgiving is that nasty green bean casserole with the mushroom soup and fried onions. Eeeeeewwwww!

    I make a wonderful sweet potato casserole that could be dessert. It has a whole stick of butter, sugar and eggs mashed with the potatoes. Then it’s topped with a mixture of chopped pecans, brown sugar and more butter. It’s delish.

    We always have mac ‘n cheese too because I have a very picky sister and it’s always her contribution. Plus the little kids love it too.

  10. It’s Tracey, typing and being too lazy to log in as myself….. Susan, we do have roasted brussels sprouts and they are QUITE yummy. And, being the Vegetarian Wife, I also have a traditional Harvest Vegetable Casserole for the Veggie folks in our group. It has rice and all kinds of fresh veggies and some cheese and bakes for over an hour so it is one of those things I only tackle a couple times a year. This year, I saw Lester Holt make a Cranberry Chutney on the Today show and got an urge to try something different. I couldn’t find his recipe or didn’t like all the stuff in it, so I found another with apples, orange slices, etc. YUM!

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