Thanksgiving with a different twist

by marlys good

“Over the river and through the woods,” an old-time Thanksgiving song supposedly sung on the way to “grandmother’s house” evokes sugar-coated memories of beautifully-laid tables, cornucopia centerpieces, family members waiting for the patriarch to carve the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies.

Some holidays are memorable just because they stray from that norm.

Veda Gerrard recalls her childhood in Tacoma, Wash. It was during World War II and Tacoma was surrounded by or in close proximity to several military establishments, McCord, Fort Lewis, a naval base. “There were blackouts, air raids, and several businesses, etcetera, were camouflaged. Oh, my, it was a different time, much different than it was here,” she said.

Her aunt and uncle from Laramie joined the family and after the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, they all went to the zoo. To start off the adventure, as they rounded a corner, they saw a parrot, “and my sister kept trying to teach it to say, ‘Heil Hitler.‘“ Had the young girl succeeded the parrot would probably have been shot at sundown! To double the trouble, “My sister kept growling at the lions,” Veda recalls. “The lions finally had had enough, and one turned and urinated on my aunt. “ An ignoble end to a family outing.

Ruth Jones Ledford says a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner for her and husband Bruce, now that their children (Mike, Tina, Veronica) have flown the coop and have families of their own, is a “TV dinner,” she laughed. “I don’t like to cook anyway. It might be turkey, or chicken, or, if we’re adventuresome, even lasagna.”

Wrayleen Galusha Marcus recalls Thanksgiving 2013 spent in Thermopolis with her sister and brother-in-law Neil and Minnie Miller and her brother Jimmy Galusha. “Jimmy was so sick, he couldn’t sit up and eat dinner with us, and we knew he would not be with us for our next Thanksgiving. So it was bittersweet for all of us.”

The small family unit traditionally spent Christmas with Wraylean’s mom (or perhaps an aunt). Depleted by the death of Jimmy, and with Wrayleen’s son and daughter-in-law unable to join them, there will just be Wrayleen, Minnie and Neil. “It will be spur of the moment. If the weather holds we plan to meet in Cody and enjoy the Thanksgiving buffet at the Irma Hotel. We’ve never done that and I hear it is wonderful.”

Ken and Priscilla Jeziorski recall a Thanksgiving spent at their cabin “during the late cow elk season. We don’t have an oven at the cabin, but we do have a gas stove on top of the electric refrigerator.”

That was all that was needed. “We had chicken and dumplings, homemade cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. The highlight of the day was having our friend, and hunting partner, a priest from Wisconsin, say Mass for the tired and hungry hunters.

“It is always so beautiful at our cabin in the winter with all the snow, icicles hanging from the roof and a nice, cozy fire in the wood stove.”

That fits with the “over the river and through the woods” mentioned earlier, although it is doubtful that any of the hunters arrived at the cabin in horse-driven sleighs.