Monday, November 29, 2010


Many of you are new (or newish) to my childhood stories, please don't think I'm being too hard on my mom in this blog post. If you go back and read some old entries related to my childhood, you'll soon agree that I'm being pretty darn nice...
My mom was a terrible cook didn't cook very often. We always looked at that as a good thing.  To the best of my recollection, she only prepared Thanksgiving dinner a couple of times. When she did, a pre-cooked ham was always the main course.

For reasons known only to her, one year she decided to cook a turkey. It was probably because she had recently decided to get married again for the second, no third, oh yeah, for the fourth time.  She was probably trying to impress her latest victim new fiance. I believe I was in ninth grade and my younger brother was in second. The other four or five people were friends of my new, soon to be step dad.

The table was full of all the normal Thanksgiving things.  Nice dishes, formal silverware settings, the whole shebang. I think there was even a center piece. I'd never seen any of this stuff before and wondered if it was all stolen property where it came from.

Everybody was sitting at the table waiting to eat, my brother and I were sitting at one end and were the only ones who could see into the kitchen.  My mom was at the stove transferring the turkey from the roasting pan to the serving platter with a couple of large forks. The turkey started to get away from her and she dropped it. 

The turkey hit the floor with a thud, everyone at the table looked up in surprise. My mom yelled out, "It's okay it fell on a piece of paper!" Only my brother and I could see that there was no paper, or anything else on the floor but our dinner. She picked the turkey up off the floor in a split-second. My brother and I looked at each other and then looked back into the kitchen to see our mom staring at us. She was pointing at us with one index finger while using her other hand to make a "keep your mouth zipped shut" motion with her other hand.  She didn't have to do either of those things. We knew by the fire in her eyes, that if we said anything about there being no paper, we were dead meat in big trouble.

My mom proudly marched into the dining room with the no doubt cat hair and dust laden turkey. All the adults oohed and awed as she set the platter on the table. She was positively beaming as she asked her new fiance to "do the honors," while shooting me and my brother another acid glance.

Before carving, my soon to be step dad, started scooping dressing out of the bird and into a serving bowl. Yes, ladies, gentlemen and dear friends. You know what happened next.  The last scoop was not full of dressing, it was full of the "giblet bag" that my mom failed to remove before cooking the turkey. Peyton looked at mom and said, "you are supposed to ta....." She didn't say a word, but somehow he knew by the by the look in her eyes, not to finish his sentence. She had a smile on her face for everyone else at the table and pure evil in her eyes for him. 

Everybody in my mom's life understood what that glare meant, just as clearly as if she said it out loud.  It meant, "I am crazy, I am more violent than you can imagine and I am capable of hurting you or worse."   Amazingly, he married my mom anyway. It didn't last.  A Las Vegas wedding and a Tijuana divorce...

The only positive thing that came out of the entire affair was related to her dropping the turkey. From that point forward, continuing until today. When somebody drops an item of food on the floor or ground, even if they have no intention of eating it, we always say, "good thing it fell on that piece of paper!"



  1. Ha, that's great! A wonderful thing when families have their own sayings, from stories only they know.

  2. The first time I cooked a Christmas Chicken, I left the giblet bag in. Trouble is, they were generally put in at the other end from where the stuffing goes so it was easy for a novice to miss.

    Nowadays, we don't get given the giblets. . . . Where to they go?

    It's illuminating this, none the less. The context is more important than the content. We've all done silly things like drop turkeys on the floor or left the giblets in. It's annoying, embarrassing, funny . . . But in a violent household, the whole atmosphere changes.

    All your crossings out make for a great (and amusing) tale.


  3. Good morning Patrick.
    I have read your older posts relating to your mother so this one is no surprise to me.
    This is kind of funny, the way you put things, the reactions of you and your brother, an the soon to be stepfather. It looks like he was learning but he was not learning fast enough, judging by the fact he married your mother finally.
    He did not stay long with her though. I m surprised he "did not fell on that piece of paper", or did he..?
    Have a great week.

  4. And only your family understands what that means!

  5. New phrase to enter Soft Nonsense lexicon? I think yes.

    Hope you had a good Turkey Day this year :)

  6. As sad as some of your childhood stories are, your retellings always have a bit of a twinkle to them - like you can see the tiny little shiny part in something that as a child, would have been frightening and scary.
    I actually wrote a family food story today too and it is all about jokes and expressions that we have from our childhood. (Come by and leave a link in the comments - yours fits with the theme of my post - and I am sure others would really enjoy reading your story.) - G

  7. Considering her personality and past behavior, I'd say your Mom behaved better than usual.

    I'll have to remember that paper thing.....

  8. What a memory. I admire that you can find an element of humour, Pat.

  9. ha! My favorite Uncle, also one of only two relatives I ever connected with, died on thanksgiving in a terrible auto accident. After that it was always a solemn affair where it was usually more pleasant than any other. At some point, around 16 or so, I started to get drunk prior to any gathering my family had so I could bear it, this eventually turned to harder things and now as where I am sober the gathering are always at my home where the atmosphere is strictly controlled to be an accepting one.

  10. I am confused, do we have the same mom?

  11. fell on paper- okay-
    The thing about the gibblet bag is that the turkey was also, in that case, not washed- It's normal to wash meat before preparing it to cook right!? Inside outside- right!?
    So were the dishes stolen?

  12. It's memorable! And you did get a nice colloquialism out of it.

    Hope your latest Turkey Day was less "memorable" for the right reasons. :)

  13. Joe - Memories! Now "my" family sometimes uses the phrase!

    Lucy - Thanks Lucy! We still get them. Sometimes there is not bag though. I remember the first time I cooked a turkey. By the time I was done carving, it looked like a pile of scraps!

    Costas - He did not fall on the piece of paper. He fell flat on his face. A blog post for another day...Thanks!

    Alex - That's true! My kids now use the phrase as well.

    soft nonsense - Happy to be of service! I had a great day. Thanks!

    Gerogina - Thanks so much! I think it's because I wrote my mom off at a very early age. I'll be over in just a bit!

    BB - You are right! That was always something to be "thankful" for!

    Talli - I had to find something amusing to avoid going crazy!

    Jhon - That sucks! I was right there with you on the "self medicating." I really enjoy Holidays now also. On my terms...

    Budd - If our moms were even a little bit alike, then I'm sorry! You must have some stories about "family" life to tell also...

    Random Thinker - We did! I made sure that I didn't take anything with skin on it, thinking any debris was probably there.

    Ren - I have no idea if she rinsed it before cooking or not! I feel ill... I didn't ask about the dishes, that would have caused my mom's evil side to emerge...

    Penny - Thanks!

    California Girl - A colloquialism is about the only thing we got from it! This turkey day was excellent. Thanks!

  14. From reading your blog I can say that's a rather tame mom story. WHEW!! I don't know what's worse – cooked giblets or dirty turkey.

  15. Lol, I think I shall start saying that one too. It sounds like as good of an excuse as any to use.

    Also, you sir are the master of the crossed out lines. They were cracking me up.

  16. Now I know what to say. Better late than never.

  17. seems that you always find some way to make me chuckle...even if the stories aren't always very happy ones.
    (You DO "put a twinkle" in your re-telling of your childhood. )

    If nothing else...hopefully all your Thanksgivings after that were better?

    Have a great new week Pat- and thanks again for sharing. You could write quite the book;)

  18. Jesse - You are right! Compared to some of the others, this one is a happy family story....LOL

    Tim - Thanks Tim! It's a classic (at least for us)... I do like the crossed out lines!

    Karin - That's funny! I'm always happy to help!

    Warren - Oh yeah! She would beat the heck out of Joan Crawford

    Dawn - Thanks! I guess that's just how I used to deal with it! Now things are really great! You have a good week as well!

  19. I think the paper and the 5 second rule are one in the same. It's OK if it is only on the floor for less than 5 seconds, germs take at least 6 seconds to get there!

  20. I love these little glimpses of your life, Pat. They often times remind me of peering back into my own. This one especially.

    Maybe one day I will explain the oft uttered "Don't make me throw my spoon at you!!!" that floats through the dialog of my sibings and I.

    Great post. Loved the added touch of humour that is not always there when you relate stories of your mother.

  21. Oh boy....this brought back some of my own memories!

    The first time I ever cooked a bird was when I was 19....and I forgot to remove the bag of giblets, too!! HA HA HA. My mom discovered my dirty little secret in the kitchen, since she had arrived for dinner and was helping me with the last minute prep. We still laugh about it today.

  22. Wow! You have some dooseys to tell don't you! I bet you're fun to hang out with at a cocktail party:) Too funny!

  23. Even though, or perhaps due to the fact that, your mom was an abusive lunatic, this was a great story. I really enjoyed it, Pat.

  24. Brian - That's funny! I think they are both a myth...

    Rabbit - Yeah, please do explain the spoon! I've had some things thrown at me by my mom, that's for sure! Thanks Micael! I appreciate the nice words...

    Marlene - I know I've made a few mistakes in my cooking career also. I wonder why we never heard about Salmonella back then?

    Nancy - I sure do! My mom was a doosey! Thanks!

    Robyn - Thanks her craziness did lead to some stories...

  25. Great life story, Pat, and you put in a bit of humor to make it enjoyable to read. There is always a craziness in each family.

  26. A mother with an unusual sense of humor out of the mishaps. No doubt when I drop food on the floor think of the paper.

  27. A mother with an unusual sense of humor out of the mishaps. No doubt when I drop food on the floor think of the paper.

  28. The firts time I baked a turkey, I accidently left the bag in too, I was only 19, but no body has let me forget it

  29. I admire how you are spinning this to happy...but I still want to give you a giant hug. In a totally non-stalking, non-scary way of course!

  30. I know from reading past posts that your Mom was a murderous freak and doesn't deserve a kind word, but Julia Childs would probably have approved what she did...and maybe she whipped that turkey off the dirty floor really fast and the 5-second rule applied!

  31. Oh no, the giblets? I wasn't expecting that at all. FuNNY story, Pat. So glad you survived it all!

  32. The giblet bag. That's too funny! I know that glare well.

  33. Funny story, Pat... Your Mom was a 'character' --in the broad sense of the word!!!!! So many people (new brides mostly) forget to take the giblet bag out of the turkey... FUNNY--that your Mom did it....

    Can't believe she got married so many times... Yipes!!!! Seems like if a man knew that she had been married several times ---WELL---wouldn't he be a bit skeptical?????? (Maybe he had been married many times before himself!!!! ha)

    Funny that you ALL remember that 'paper' on the floor....

  34. I was very fortunate. My Mom was a really good cook. My wife is too, as evidenced by my fatness.

    - Wally J

  35. Icy BC - Thanks! You are right about there being a bit of craziness in each family, too bad my family got a mega-dose of it!

    Leovi - My mom had an usualy sense of everything...

    baygirl - Family NEVER lets you forget...

    jenny - Thanks Jenny! We find our happy moments where we can. Especially in my family...

    Margaret - I guess you're not gonna throw a whole turkey away! You are so right about her not deserving a kind word....

    Brenda - thanks Breanda! I did survive...barely!

    Tess - Thanks! That glare is still imprinted on the back of my skull.

    Betsy - She probably intimidated them into marrying her. The fourth one went from good to a disaster in a couple of years...That story is worthy of a blog post..



  37. I've met women like her, or think I have. Chilling. I really do need to read your past posts.

    You do, however, have a great one-liner there. :-)


  38. What a kick. Your mom sounds as though she was indeed a character. My mother too was not an exceptional cook, but then how does one learn to be so when her mother was an immigrant and she learned to cook on a coal stove? ;) And everything was fried, fried well done! but hunger caused me to not complain when I was younger. ;)

    Not sure how I came upon your blog, but am delighted. I look forward to reading more of your stories.

  39. That now is the new version of the "5-second rule". I have to admit I cooked a turkey with the giblet bag still inside...a long time ago. Great T-giving story Pat!

  40. Great story, you really had me laughing (although I'm no newbie and I know how your mother is)'s definitely stuff like that that you remember!

  41. Given that we already know your mom was "unpleasant," that is hysterical. As for the letters, there are 1056 "letters and documents," but I'd say about 1,000 of those are actual letters.

  42. That's a great story Patty.. and love the way you told it..particularly the faux word deletions.. very funny..

    I know your not being harsh on her in this post..

    If anything, youre being restrained..

    But its a well written piece with a great ending..

    Like most good stories...

    (the old 5 second rule trick..restaurants use it all the time....)

  43. It's my unofficial job to make sure the giblets are removed, Cindy has baked them inside once but never has the turkey hit the floor, paper or not.

    With it landing on the floor in front of your eyes at least you knew which piece you wanted without a doubt.

  44. Wally - Thanks for commenting and signing on. I appreciate it! My mom could cook about 3 dishes well, they rest were very not very good!

    John - Takeout? Yes, I'd advise that we do...LOL!

    Pearl - Yep! You can find old stories in the labels. She was brutal and crazy, but sure provided me with a lot of stories! Thanks Pearl!

    Diana - She was worse than a character! Cooking on a coal stove? No thanks! I'm not sure how you came upon my blog either, but I'm glad you did!

    Chuck - After seeing my mom do it, I never made that mistake. I've made every other mistake in life, but not that one!

    Sarah - Thanks for stopping by! I know you are amazingly busy, so I appreciate it! So many people following my blog now, have no idea about her. I'll have to think about that! Thanks again Sarah!

    tapirgal - She was indeed unpleasant! 1056? Wow! that's a lot of work...

    Anthony - Thanks so much! I was being restrained... restaurants! They are the worst!

    Jimmy - I hope you do your job well! You are right! I avoided the entire left side of that thing!

  45. Pat, having a crappy childhood is... well... crappy. Yet it's terrific you survived to tell the stories ... and in such an amusing way. Being one of your more recent blogger friends, when I'm not so dang engaged in my work, I'll go back and read some more of your lovely life with your mother. Are you close to your brother now? I can identify with the "family phrase".

  46. Awesome post. Really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

  47. Francisca - It was indeed crappy! that particular brother and I are not that close. We do speak from time to time, but that's about it. He's lived a hard life. Some prison time and now is a broken down old cowboy in New Mexico.

    Anon - Thanks for reading and commenting!

  48. I love that saying, I may have to borrow it! Your mom is ahead of me in that I have never cooked a turkey. Always get one smoked from a professional. Oh wait, one year my hubby deep fried a turkey and it was delicious. Love your stories.

  49. I don't mind eating the food I accidentally dropped LOL... just saying

  50. Oh my goodness, I love this story.

    I am your mom. Well, minus four or five weddings I am. I wonder about the kinds of stories my children will someday tell about me. At least instead of spending thousands of dollars, they'll be able to blog for therapy. It's helped you cope, right?

  51. I love stories.

    And this was excellently told.

    I don't think you're too hard on're speaking the truth.

    I had the same kind of monster, er, mother.

    Nice story, thank you.

    And,yes, private family jokes do help with the healing, don't they?

  52. Ree - Feel free to use it as you see fit! I think I'd like to deep fry a turkey. Maybe I'll give it a go in couple of months...thanks!

    Minoccio - I feel the same way! As long as nobody is looking!

    Cotton - That's funny! You never know what they say. Ask them! LOL..

    The Empress - Sorry to hear that about your mom! If she was anything like mine, you've been through a lot! Yup, little jokes do help! That and a lot of therapy! LOL...

  53. I'm sorry you have such an unhappy childhood and volitive relationship with your mother, Pat.

  54. reading your blog always make me realize again that I should be thankful for the parents I have.

  55. Pam - It wasn't any fun, that's for sure! I'm glad it was all a long time ago...

    Arjan - That's great to hear. If you have good ones, appreciate the heck out of them. And show them that you do! Thanks for stopping by, hadn't seen you in a while. I just left your blog!

  56. @ Pat: I'm afraid I'm stuck lurking (I know you hate lurkers haha) in the rss feeder sometimes if I don't have the time to comment everywhere :(

    Although I don't always have something useful to leave behind.
    Thanks for visiting :)

  57. А! Thanks a lot for writing this, it was unbelieveably informative and told me a ton

  58. Arjan - I don't hate lurkers! I appreciate anybody who stops by. When I saw your name today, I was wondering why your link dropped off of my dashboard! I'm back with you now!

    Anon. - Really! That's funny, it was a photo! Can you say spammer?

  59. I will have to remember that phrase. From reading all the comments apparently leaving the giblet bag inside the bird is not all that unusual. I haven't done it but had a friend of mine that did and of course it was discovered at the dinner table.

  60. SQ - I've sure never forgot it! Never forgot the look on her face either! I can honestly say that I've never left the giblet bag in a turkey while cooking it... that's right! It was a chicken!

  61. عظيم آخر. لا يمكن أن تنتظر لقراءة تلك التالي :)

  62. Anon - Seriously? That's what I was thinking...

  63. I haven't read any of your older "mom" stories, but am headed there now! I had an aunt that sounds a lot like your mother, and I know that the "stories" weren't funny at the time.
    I congratulate you on using humor therapy to turn it into something better.

  64. Misfit Mommy - I hope you enjoy them. That might be the wrong word...I still have plenty more to post...thanks so much for going back and reading them...

  65. haha that's great, especially the nice take-away at the end

    Best use of the crossed-out line thing I think I've ever seen.

  66. Brad - Thanks! I love that cross out thing and plan to use it much more.

  67. Thanks for good stuff.

  68. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also….


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