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Thanksgiving Holidays

We All Have Our Stories and Traditions…

I had no tradition for this holiday growing up. None. My family was so unpleasant at its very core, a holiday forcing all of them into one place was my definition of a nightmare.

So after five years of being out on my own, my father and his new wife (worse than my mother, which I must say took some doing) were in Palm Springs over Thanksgiving where I had a nice place and was a golf professional. Stupidly, I offered to cook for them.

The wife would have nothing to do with that, so she forced us to go up the Tram and have a holiday meal up there, which was not only bad food, but I was stuck on that mountain in that old lodge with her and my father for three long, long, long hours.

I got so angry at the attitude that I was not able to cook a Thanksgiving meal in their eyes and that my place was not good enough for them, that when I escaped, I found the only grocery store still open, bought myself a small bird, potatoes, Stove Top stuffing (or something similar in that time), and a gravy fixing pack and went home and by midnight I was sitting alone in my apartment eating a surprisingly good meal. Better than the one in that lodge.

Every year since (with one wonderful exception of having Thanksgiving dinner at Chris Valada and Len Wein’s home), I have cooked that exact same meal. That year I cooked it three days later when we got home.

50 years this year. I have no caring who is with me at the meal. Large or small gathering, I cook the same thing. I have no issue if people bring other stuff they like, but I cook the exact same thing (only I make my own gravy now and no longer use Stove Top) and that is all I eat (besides pie afterwards if one is made. Kris makes stunning pies and it is her tradition.)

In 1973, I started this tradition out of anger and to prove to myself I was able to take care of myself just fine. Now I can’t imagine not doing it. And for some reason, Kris seems to love it, which I have been grateful for now for 35 of those 50 years. At times, as this year, it will be just the two of us. Many other times friends joined in. I think one year we had almost twenty people there and thankfully we had two houses at the time with two ovens for two huge birds.

So I hope your tradition started from a kinder place than mine did. And that you have a good day.

And if you are a writer, don’t forget to get some words in. Amazing how that helps the day as well.



  • Vincent Zandri

    Amazingly similar to my memories of Thanksgiving and Xmas which is why as soon as the kids were old enough and didn’t much care about holidays I started escaping to Europe. So I’m in Italy now, 2000 words In this morning, then the gym, a nap…when I get home I’ll make a small Thanksgiving for my adult sons and i…with Stovetop lol!

  • Dave Raines

    Thanks for sharing your story. Mine comes from a better start, and now I’m trying not to be your parents for my adult kids!

  • Mark Kuhn

    Very well said, Dean.
    Let me see, I sent the story that Asimov’s turned down to Escape Pod. They use the Moksha interface so there are currently 88 stories ahead of mine.
    If they turn it down, then I’ll publish it myself. I already have a cover ready to go.
    I’ve been trying your method of starting with a title. I like it!
    Moving forward with my writing, slow but sure.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Keith West

    Hi, Dean.

    Thanks for sharing this story. I hope you and Kris had a great Thanksgiving. Just reading about your menu made me hungry again.

    I’m thankful for you and Kris and all you do on your blogs and classes to help newer writers.

    I got almost 3200 words in, finished the last video on the Holiday Noir workshop, and am about to read the assigned stories. Just as soon as I have another sliceof pie.

  • Sheila

    Sometimes it’s the bad things that make us change and make better memories. I know I’ve been there. We didn’t always get Thanksgiving, and some years no Christmas. I tried to always have something for my kids, no matter what. Food, gifts, nice clothes for school, all the supplies they needed. Did without stuff for myself so they wouldn’t have that shame and feeling of being poor. I know my parents tried, but it was really hard.

    Anyway, you did good for your Thanksgiving streak. Here’s to many more!