Memories of Thanksgivings Past and Present

Every other Thanksgiving, my Mom, her two sisters and all the offspring of these three amazing women  (last year this number was upwards of 70, ranging in age from 1 – 90!) start the cooking and packing process for a 4 day Thanksgiving weekend in the bustling town – mostly populated by cows – of Calera, Alabama.  We come from all over the place – Colorado, Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and beyond – to gather under one roof and celebrate this wonderful holiday together. 

We sleep, dormitory style, the women and children in one wing and the men and older boys in another.  Some have started bringing tents and sleeping bags as we are just now beginning to outgrow the church camp.  We are charged with bringing all our own bedding, personal bath and clothing items, games galore – cards, board games and outdoor games – and FOOD!!!!!!  We bring everything in for breakfasts, lunches, Thanksgiving Dinner, an outdoor hamburger cookout and DESSERTS!!!!  There are two 8 – foot tables laden with every kind of dessert imaginable from caramel, jam, carrot and red velvet cakes to pecan, chess, fudge, pumpkin and apple pies to brownies and cookies.  And each time something is eaten and the pan removed from the table – another offering replaces it! 

We eat Thanksgiving dinner around one HUGE table, made up of all the eight foot tables in the camp placed end to end and then in a large square.  Some are in charge of heating up and getting the bounteous offerings of turkey, dressing, gravy, salads, sides, breads, etc – ready for the table while others are setting up the room and decorating.  Before dinner, we gather round, hold hands and have a prayer of Thanksgiving.  This is an amazing tradition which we started in  1987.

And we do not leave out our football fans – there is a room with a big TV and all the SEC games are well attended!  The weekend ends with an epic softball game and one by one, each family clears out all that they brought and we take our leave with our fond memories and anticipating the next time we will all gather again.

As I was remembering last year with fondness, and planning with in town family for this Thanksgiving, I remembered a Thanksgiving from long ago.  I must have been about 6 or 7.  For whatever reason – most likely a financial consideration, Mom was cooking chickens instead of a turkey.  And again, for whatever reason, she put the chickens in the oven and we left home to go to church – I guess we went to church on Thanksgiving morning back in the day.  Mom was a great cook, but advanced planning was not her strong suit (please, those who know her do not tell her I said this as she will deny it to her grave and I will be severely reprimanded!) and after church she decided we needed to go and visit a great aunt.  Well you can just imagine the condition of those tiny chickens when we returned home – burned to a crisp – and the house full of smoke (so let me say here, that this was not the first and would not be the last time our house was filled with smoke on a holiday – but those stories are for a later blog).  So off we went, with $11 in our pocket, in search of a restaurant open for Thanksgiving.  Now this was the early 60’s – there were not the bounty of restaurants that we have now and nothing was open, that is until we got close to downtown and found a Western Sizzling – open and serving turkey and all the fixin’s.  Feeding a family of 5 on $11 was possible but if memory serves me we got one dessert and split it.

Where to Eat in Nashville on Thanksgiving Day

So if you find yourself with a house full of smoke and a burned turkey this Thanksgiving there will be options for you!  There are many restaurants open for business and serving turkey and dressing!  Two websites – and both have lists of restaurants open for you dining pleasure.  You can also find out about shopping specials and entertainment for you and your out of town guests at these sights.

If you do not want to cook and/or take the chance of burning down your house, you can plan in advance for someone to do the cooking for you.  Loveless has a great Thanksgiving to go menu as does Whole Foods.  Visit their websites to order on line – or   You can also take advantage of several seatings for Thanksgiving dinner at either Sperry’s location – Belle Meade or Cool Springs.  They will serve all your favorites between 11 and 8 on Thanksgiving Day.  Be sure to tip your servers well as they will be missing dinner with their families!

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