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Bite-sized tales of Thanksgiving from Tell KC

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4 minute read

No theology; no politics; eleven pies.

For Kansas City, Missouri, resident Alison Swihart, those six words encapsulate her Thanksgiving plans.

Celebrating with her 93-year-old mother and three siblings, Swihart said that, in the last few years, mom has banished politics and theology from the dinner table.

“Although my siblings and I all consider ourselves relatively conservative in both respects, we are just enough different and just enough convinced of our own correctness that we really tick each other off,” Swihart said.

While Swihart’s mom has enacted boundaries on dinner table topics, she places no limits on dessert.

“Mom also makes about 11 different kinds of pies so that each of our favorites and those of our children are included,” Swihart said.

Tell KC, a reporting and engagement collaboration with KCPT and KCUR, asked folks to distill Turkey Day down to just six words. More than 30 people, including Swihart, accepted the challenge.

Below are some of our favorites, with a little background from their authors.

Bullet dodged: his family is vegan.

“I went through a breakup a few months ago, and (obviously) had to break off Thanksgiving plans with his family,” wrote Brooke Shippee, who is from Shawnee, Kansas, but now lives in Arkansas. “Thursday wouldn’t be the same without turkey and oyster stuffing!”

Broiled, boiled, braised, mashed and satisfied.

“This holiday is so much about gathering family around a meal, and including everyone’s favorites, that all that work needed to be represented,” said N. Barry Carver of Lawrence, Kansas.

As a disabled veteran, Carver says that his funds are limited, and while this Thanksgiving may be a meager one, it will still be satisfying.

“In the end, the real goal, is the feeling of love that comes from being really together… but ending these six words with ‘loved’ seemed to me to suggest one loved the work, which I do not.  So I chose ‘satisfied’ because what cook, regardless of gender or setting, doesn’t see this as the best return on all their investment?”

Airfare price means we stay here.

“My wife and I have typically gone to Ohio or Texas to be with our respective families,” said Andy Pollard of Overland Park, Kansas.  “Because we both have limited time off, and the price of flights were so expensive for such a short trip, we decided to stay home for this Thanksgiving.”

Sisters sharing sauce success secrets symbolism.

“Since my mom died, my sisters and I do not get together as much as we did when she was alive,” wrote Ann Collier of Kansas City, Missouri, in her alliterative response. “Now on Thanksgiving we all create a special sauce, share secrets and  share a little bit of ourselves with each other as a way to symbolize my wonderful mother.”

Collier said that while initially they all made the same sauce, now they each use different ingredients to express how they’re feeling.

“I made my sauce hot and spicy, that meant I was in a sassy mood; one of my sisters usually makes her sauce dark, that means she is sad or depressed,” Collier said. “We look at the sauces, taste the sauces and then ask each other questions. We learn a lot about each through our sauces. I know it sounds crazy, but that is how we cope.”

There’s no Thanksgiving for third shift.

“My fiance and I are co-habiting millennials. We’re putting off getting married and having children because we don’t want to have a family before we can support them,” said Tanna Sherrill in Water Valley, Mississippi. “He works a third shift security job and will not have either the night before Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving night off.  I work in retail and go to school, and I’ve been lucky enough to get Thanksgiving off, although I will work Black Friday. Because my fiance will be working the night of Thanksgiving, we have elected to not have a traditional feast … instead, we’ll have turkey sandwiches and sweet potato fries.”

Empty chair was like funeral again.

“Thanksgiving was my mother’s favorite holiday; her Southern cornbread dressing was legendary,” said Kathie Kerr in Kansas City, Missouri. “A few years ago, she passed of complications from Parkinson’s Disease. The chair at the head of the table has remained empty. We are going to move it this year because looking at it is like attending her funeral all over again.”

Lots of travel. Lots of food.

“We always have two Thanksgiving dinners: one at my mom’s in Warrensburg, Missouri, and one at my husband’s mom’s in Doniphan, Missouri (in the Missouri bootheel),” wrote Bill Ayakatubby. “Since we both come from big families that aren’t quite so big anymore, there’s always far too much food for the number of guests.”

Solitude and silence, grateful alone.

I’m a full-time caregiver for 91-year-old bed-ridden mother with dementia, blindness and hearing loss,” said Ginny Rober of Vestal, New York. “Family will come care for her Thanksgiving, and I’ll have a rare day to myself to do anything I want in my own house, which I rarely see any more.”

Good friends can be your family.

“Going home for the holiday isn’t feasible,” wrote Vania Joiner, who is a single mom in Olathe, Kansas. “Luckily I have a close friend who has opened her heart and her home to make the holiday a little less lonely.”

Thanksgiving, in two words: “More, please.”

The holiday has become a (mostly welcome) symbol of excess and indulgence: more friends, more family, more food, more sports, more movies, more shopping, more entertainment and more people around with whom to share it,” wrote Bruce Falk of Alexandria, Virginia. “It’s a bit like a space heater, in that it fills the room with so much warmth so quickly, it’s always a bit of a relief when it’s over. However, the holiday is all and all so welcome that it’s passing is also a bit sad, the more so once the cold, commercial crassness of December and bitter indifference of January get into full swing. So… more please!”

A few more local submissions

Second helpings: fear not, I’ll have. – Katie Mabry Van Dieren

Family fled to Hawaii. Planning Friendsgiving. – Megan Spilker

Rumchata fueled, turkey stuffed Parcheesi feuds. – Elise Carlson

Gathering thankfully with food, family, friends! – Debbie Florido

Stuffed with gratitude, family, friends food. – Mary Fowler

First time hosting. Expecting 22. Eek! – Sarah Young


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