A Very Clever Pilgrim

November 21, 2014



 thanksgiving turkey dinnerOne minute after Halloween is over I start thinking about the holiday I truly love . . . Thanksgiving. No stress, no hassles, just a great meal with family and friends, all tied together with a thankful heart. At least that’s the way I thought of Thanksgiving until about six years ago when I got promoted from a guest who brings a cake, to the chief cook who prepares the meal. Others help here and there, but the main items, including Tom Turkey, are left up to me.retro_man_cooking1

Being able to cook a good, moist turkey is similar to the ability to sew. It tends to skip a generation. Why should little Martha Mae learn to make her own clothes when her mama (Mary Mae) is the best seamstress in the county? Years later, when Mama Mary Mae is gone, Martha Mae realizes she doesn’t even know how to thread a needle. That’s when Martha Mae’s daughter Minnie Mae steps in and learns to sew. See? It skips a generation.


That’s what has happened with the Thanksgiving meal in our family. Grandmother always roasted a giant turkey plus all the trimmings that fed our rowdy crowd. My own mother had never cooked a bird that big in her entire life. She, along with the other daughters, showed up with a few side dishes and enough desserts to fill a separate table. When Granny passed on to the heavenly side of Thanksgiving, my mother realized that not only had she never cooked a turkey, but didn’t even own a roasting pan that big. “I think I’d be a nervous wreck trying to cook a turkey!” she told me with a sad little look on her face.


The first year with no home-cooked bird, I think we bought a turkey from the youth group down at The First Karaoke Church, where they were deep frying them in the parking lot to raise funds for a new big screen TV, but Daddy said he favored a more traditional protestant bird, so after that, it was left up to me to figure out how to cook the fowl.

Thanksgiving menu

What I have going for me that my mother is still learning to navigate, is the know-how of using the internet to teach myself anything. Cousin Rosie Belle from Robertsdale taught herself how to ballroom dance in only two weeks by watching reruns of Bobby and Cissy on the Lawrence Welk YouTube channel. So, taking a hint from her, I grabbed my laptop and typed in, “How to cook a turkey” and good-gosh almighty, 40-gazillion videos came up for my viewing pleasure. I poured myself a glass of traditional protestant juice, put my feet up and within a few hours, was an expert who was ready to roast a Thanksgiving turkey.


My very first turkey came out so juicy and delicious that now, I not only cook one in November, but I also pop one in the oven whenever they go on sale at the Piggly Wiggly. It’s now a year-round dish in our home, and with teenage boys in the house, a giant pan of roasted meat and gravy doesn’t last long.


But something’s been nagging me, and doesn’t quiet add up. My mother is a great cook, which leads me to believe she may have just been calculating this Thanksgiving side-step all along. Could she have really premeditated such a devious plan to let Grandmother host Thanksgiving for the first 40 years, then, when the pendulum swung, claim not to have the know-how nor an adequate pan, so I would assume the task?


While I’m running around my kitchen the day before Thanksgiving, wrestling with a 22-pound fowl, I’ll bet my mama is home with her feet propped up and a glass of traditional protestant juice of her own.


Martha Mae and my mother are both very clever pilgrims

Thanksgiving menu
Being able to cook a good, moist turkey is similar to the ability to sew. It tends to skip a generation. Why should little Martha Mae learn to make her own . . .

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My column, “Southern with a Gulf Coast Accent” can be found in these fine newspapers: The Courier, The Foley Onlooker, The Islander, The Baldwin Times, The Independent, and The Sumter Item in South Carolina.

Ho ho ho y'all Fairhope
Fun shirt in Cybele’s Downtown Fairhope.


THIS WEEKEND IN FAIRHOPE: Friday night, join the Downtown Merchants for the Holiday Stroll. Businesses will be open for you to party, shop and stroll beneath the beautiful downtown lights. 

SATURDAY: Movie in the streets- Come in your P.J.’s with blankets and chairs to watch a giant presentation of Polar Express! 

SUNDAY: Downtown Open House – 1:00-5:00. Shop early while downtown shops offer refreshments and holiday music. 




  • You have a way with words to keep us smiling. After 40 years I am hosting Thanksgiving for the last three years but thankfully my hubby does the turkey on the grill. I even have two ovens! Not sure how all the food got done at my grandmothers without two ovens. Not to mention my great grandmother had a wood burning stove. I was a child when she died and don’t actually remember being at her home when she was cooking but do remember the stove in the kitchen. Wish I had pictures of the home.

    I am sure your meal will go beautifully. Happy Thanksgiving

    • Leslie Anne says:

      I always think about how previous generations cooked without a microwave – to defrost this, melt that, zap-zap-zap. It’s so handy, and I can’t imagine a kitchen without it!
      Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  • Sounds like a great weekend. I need to move to Fairhope. Enjoy your week, Leslie Anne.

  • Your mama is clever indeed! Congrats on mastering the turkey, I luckily never have to cook one, when it’s at our house the guys cook one on the grill, which is totally weird I know, but we grill everything around here 🙂 Happy Turkey Day Leslie Anne!

  • I am sure while your Mother is sipping her beverage of choice, she is also counting her blessings that you are not only willing but also capable of providing the roasted bird
    du jour.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      She’s so sweet, I’m sure she is!

  • Great story! Good for you!

  • Better yet, I would have donated mine!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      This is even better! I need to put you on speed dial for when I get into situations like this!

  • There’s nothing like a glass of good ole protestant juice while watching others or cooking the Thanksgiving meal. You are a good daughter… My mom would have gotten a visit from me with the gift of a new roasting pan.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      You are the clever one!

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