This is what Thanksgiving means to me |

This is what Thanksgiving means to me

Life in Our Mountain Town, Katie Shaffer

While doing errands around town and chatting with people about the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve found myself announcing that while I will work Thanksgiving morning, I will then come home and host dinner for 10. One woman asked me, “How on earth are you going to do that?” Well, I am not superwoman. It happens that I’m married to a wonderful man who always prepares the turkey.

This tradition began the first Thanksgiving we spent here in Truckee. John cooked the turkey, with much success. It turned out golden brown and was so impressive that we took a picture of it, as if it was a prized outcome of our new life together. I have a picture of my husband slicing the turkey, wearing a ripped flannel shirt. Looking back on that day, our focus obviously was not on the clothes we were wearing, but on the food we had fixed in our newly minted adult lives.

The stuffing he fixed had not yet been perfected as I think it was dry.

The following year I felt it was my turn to pitch in and cook the turkey. At 11 p.m. we tried to eat, but the bird was still underdone. After putting it back in the oven for another hour, we sliced off some almost-cooked meat and ate at midnight, more tired than hungry. The next day we salvaged what we could, which wasn’t much. I distinctly remember throwing out the inedible stuffing which was sodden with butter.

Our third Thanksgiving, John called his mom and got a recipe for stuffing. He’s been in charge of most of the dinner preparations ever since. I make the side dishes.

Over the years I have always relished Thanksgiving as one of my favorite holidays. I like the focus of giving thanks for all that we have in our lives, despite a rough year here or there.

Embracing the holiday, to me, means making sure that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is turned on promptly at 8 a.m. I’ll admit, the parade drones on for hours, but I even like it as background noise on Thanksgiving morning.

I actually went to the parade in New York a few times as a child, and my memories include being dressed up in a peacoat with a rabbit fur muff hanging around my neck to keep my hands warm. After the parade we would go to Stouffer’s for a fancy dinner. I remember climbing under the large round table with my brother and cousins while the grown-ups lingered over something called minced-meat pie.

I always spent Thanksgiving with my cousins from Connecticut, and whether we were in New Jersey or at their house an hour and 15 minutes drive over the Hudson River, Thanksgiving Day also included laying around after the meal and watching Mighty Joe Young, an old black and white, poorly executed gorilla movie, which aired on a New York television station every year.

For my children, I have tried to replicate my fond memories of Thanksgiving by encouraging them to enjoy the parade that takes up most of the morning, and impressing upon them that the Macy’s parade is the epitome of Thanksgiving. I’ve also looked through the television listings for Mighty Joe Young, but understandably, it doesn’t seem to have much to do with Thanksgiving in this part of the country.

I know I paint a rosy picture of Thanksgiving, as I often do of my life here in Truckee. I’ve been told by some that I tend to see things through rose-colored glasses. While I know this is true, I also believe there are different ways of processing what you’re given in life.

People who let their lives be permeated by negative thinking tend to view people like me as na-ve and unrealistic. To me, it’s a difference in how you perceive your world. Thanksgiving is one day in the year when we can all be positive and hopeful, as well as grateful for what we have. It’s a chance to look back and appreciate, look forward with hope, and savor the moment with gratitude.

When you combine hope with faith, and when you trust that everything will turn out all right, it leaves little room for disappointment.

At Thanksgiving, I can be with those who love and understand me, who put up with my insisting that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade isn’t anything but wonderful. I’m grateful for a husband who willingly prepares the turkey and stuffing. And beyond that, I’m grateful for the town in which I live, and for all the things that are in my life here that make me happy.

Katie Shaffer is a Truckee resident. Life in Our Mountain Town appears every other week in the Sierra Sun.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Don Rogers: Big news hits close to home


First, thank you for the quick notes, some so quick that the breaking news we’d been sold had barely made it online. I read a handful of well-wishes, what’s-going-on, you-OK emails and texts while still…

See more