Thanksgiving Out of A Can

When it came to opening a can and calling it cooking, my mother was the champ. And no meal lent itself more to Mama’s can cuisine than Thanksgiving. The green bean casserole? 1 can condensed mushroom soup + 1 can drained green beans + 1 can French fried onion rings = voila! Cranberry sauce? Straight from the can onto a lettuce lined plate, it bore the indentations of the container.

Years into adulthood, when the Thanksgiving meal became my domain, that casserole was laid to rest and fresh cranberry sauce replaced canned. The recipe is as easy as opening a can, but tastes so much better: 2 cups cranberries + 1 cup orange juice (not from concentrate) + 1/2 cup sugar, stirred over medium heat until sauce begins to thicken (15 minutes or so). Chill & serve on a lettuce lined platter, an homage to my mother.

A cranberry log atop leaves of lettuce was traditional to more Thanksgiving tables than just ours. When I first saw this 1942 Thanksgiving snapshot, I immediately noticed the log in the glass

Military Sons_thanks1942_big (Medium)

server. I remember laughing because it so reminded me of my mother. Then, I took in the scene: a family with four military-serving sons home on leave for the holiday.

My Dad was also in the Navy. I don’t know where he was Thanksgiving of 1942, but according to this newspaper clipping dated May 20, 1941, he was due home in late June on a ten-day leave. The handwriting on the clipping is his mother’s, my Grandma Birdye. She kept it in an envelope, along with a photo of her sailor boy.


Over the next four years, there are more clippings, but none suggest he returned to SC on leave. His discharge card is dated October 8, 1945, and then he shipped home, in time to spend Thanksgiving with his family.

What with the scurrying taking place today and tomorrow by so many traveling home for Thanksgiving, my mind is stuck on the military, and the empty place settings at too many tables in far too many homes.

Before carving the turkey and diving into a heavenly blob of mashed potatoes, it should be law that each and every one of us gives thanks for those in the service, and prays for their homecoming, which is a world of difference from home on leave.

From the entries to National Tie One On Day™, I’ve copied two that are specific to the military. I hope you are as inspired by the writers as I.

     I have been participating in NTOOday for a few years. This year will be a bit different as we are exploring ways to help out at Fisher House, the residence available to families of service personnel getting treatment at the Walter Reed National Medical Center. The current conflicts have taken their toll on our dedicated service people, and as many are far from home, we are hoping to add a little levity and personal touch to their celebrations.

     I use this time of year to give to select homeless men who are Vietnam Veterans. I lost my husband and son, both of which were veterans, in 2004 within a 2 month time span. Since then around Thanksgiving I have hunted out a homeless veteran and gave him gifts that I would have bought for my husband and my son such a thermal underwear, socks, gloves, hats, etc. I also include some of the goodies they enjoyed like stained glass candy, fudge, cookies, breads, etc. I use this to hone my husband and my son and to keep their memories alive. Thank you for allowing to share with you how I spend Thanksgiving and tie One On Day.

National Tie One On Day™ Goodie Giveaway!

To encourage your putting the “give” back into Thanksgiving and adding National Tie One On Day™ (…an apron, of course!) to your holiday tradition, a dedicated group of sponsors are putting some fabulous “give” into the NTOODay 2011 Goodie Giveaway!

To enter, click HERE 

The National Tie One On Day Goodie Giveaway sponsors are generously providing an array of giveaways, which I’m highlighting throughout the NTOODay™ campaign.

4th issue apronology pic for Beth's quote [640x480] [320x200]

ea_Ellen March

Thank you to all who are spreading the word of National Tie One On Day, for the more who participate, the more who receive.

Naked Tabletop No Need for Tailspin

Setting a festive table can be the most, or least, enjoyable part of hosting the Thanksgiving gathering.

Some hostesses see the dining table as a blank canvas awaiting heirlooms of Damask, polished silver, sparkling crystal and china, while an expanse of naked tabletop puts others into a tailspin of anxiety.

For the nervous or uninspired, there are magazines galore with step-by-step how to’s, covering every nuance from the under cloth to floral height and placecard placement.

Rarely, however, do these picture-perfect tablescapes include decorations made by children, an overlooked, creative force right under our feet or noses, as the age may be.

Kid-made table accents can infuse a stuffy, too-serious setting with character and charm.

A Handmade Turkey submitted by (Miss) Phebe Goode, Richmond, VA

Woman’s Day Nov. 1949


“I made a new table decoration for our Thanksgiving dinner table last year. It was a turkey made with a big red apple, toothpicks, dark raisins, cloves and a stuffed olive. The apple was the body, the tail was fan-shaped, made of tooth­picks covered with small dark raisins pushed down over them. The head was a large stuffed olive with a little of the red stuffing hanging out. Cloves were used for eyes. I made a raisin-covered toothpick neck and three colored tooth­pick legs so he could stand up. My mother liked it and I hope you do too.”

Little Phebe’s concise instructions and clear illustration of the finished project mark this a child-friendly craft.

Envisioning Phebe’s decorations as homey placecard holders for my own table, but lacking a youngster to enlist in the making, I made Phebe’s turkeys myself.

apple pear turkey (Medium)

Despite my upscale addition of golden raisins and a pear substitute, these turkeys are real turkeys.

What’s missing is the additive of fun that children bring to a holiday table.


Please continue to spread the word – National Tie One On Day is such a win-win! And register to win one of six sponsor-filled goodie bags.


Tie One On…an apron, of course