Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An American Thanksgiving...?

There comes a certain romance into my mind when I think about Thanksgiving. The colors, the smells, one family member opening the door for another as they carry in piping hot side dishes, the laughter.

I have no idea why I picture Thanksgiving this way. I think it’s because of a Norman Rockwell calendar my great Grandma Ruby had back in ‘87.

Because I’ll tell you right now, the Bowman Thanksgiving isn’t anything like that.

Our colors were green, the smells were fishy, one family member did open the door for another as she carried in her blanket – dragging it though a mud puddle. But the laughter – it was present and accounted for.

The 10 of us (2 parents, 3 siblings, 2 spouses, 1 Original Jean, 2 children) celebrated Thanksgiving at the farm last Sunday. It was a real treat. When I say treat I mean it reconfirmed everything I already believed about my family: we’re a crazy bunch.

This is why she is not mad Uncle Luke travels 200 days a year.

The festivities began when we all chose our seats around the table. Even though we each sit in the exact same seat year after year, there is still this musical chairs shuffle that takes place, I suppose in case someone has decided the seat they’ve defended for 20+ years is no longer suitable.

We shuffled.
We sat.
We bowed our heads.

“Who are we missing?” Luke asked.
We all looked around and agreed - no one.
“So why do we have an extra place setting?”

He was right. Ten of us were packed around a table set for 11. Mom, noticeably taken back by her own miscount, pointed her finger to each of us while she counted again. And again.  Annnd again. “Hmm,” she said completely confused. “No idea.”

Nonetheless, the 10 of us sat elbow to jaw around the beautifully set dining room table, no one even thinking to take the 11th place setting away for extra room. Don’t ask why.

My brother eats incredibly quickly. So while the rest of us were eating our salads, Luke was getting out of his seat to carry the potatoes, gravy and turkey to his end of the table. He’s not 12 anymore, physically; I don’t know why he does this.

Marlee, 2, took a bite out 5 rolls and returned each to the breadbasket before anyone noticed.  At age 2 she is both swift and aggressive.

Half way through dinner we passed around a jar of pickled garlic. Dad’s idea; not part of Mom’s well-planned menu.

Then, it was dessert time. The most important food group. 
Go ahead - report me to Michelle. 

Quit telling a story I don’t understand and cut the pie, lady. - Marlee

80 years separate these two pie enthusiasts.

After the garlic, and pumpkin liqueur, it became incredibly hot in the homestead. The gal who keeps her house at 65 degrees isn’t the only once who thought this – we all felt like we were on fire.

Marlee walked around with a cold wash cloth on her head to cool off. 

“Dad I’ve got to turn down this heat – you have it set at 74 degrees!” declared Luke.
“Don’t you dare! I’m too old to be uncomfortable in my own house,” replied Dad, like he was 80, rather than 60. 

So, when he went Radish Scouting we opened the exterior doors. He never even noticed.

Radish Scouting, you ask?

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon looking at our cattle with Dad, you know there are three things he absolutely loves to enjoy together: Shorthorns, beer and radishes. Dad has been growing winter radishes for 30 years (reports a neighbor) and takes great pride in this. Except this year a local farmer planted radishes as a cover crop (grain farmers plant these as an inexpensive way to break up the sub-soils to fix compaction) and Dad has found them – right out of the field - to be the perfect treat to go with his draft Budweiser beer.

You wait long enough and these radishes grow – a lot – and begin to look like something straight out of Little Shop of Horrors. So after dinner, while we all sat around in a food coma, Dad left – in the pouring rain with out a coat – to find the perfect radish to top off our meal. 

And he returned, soaking wet but proud as a peacock, with these:

Hey, I said we were fun. I never, eevvverrrrr, said we were normal.

Great Grandma, Grandpa is so funny!

Blonde hair, blue eyes, perfect smiles, 81 years apart.

I don't think the radishes tasted quite like anyone had in mind. But they did make for one heck of a veggie-tales monster...


Then, Dad got out the smoked herring for all to enjoy. 

Some say no rest for the weary – I say no herring for Lindsay.

After the presentation of weird food ended, and the giant vegetables were laid down, we each spent the afternoon trying to recover. Some did dishes, some read books, some tried to forget what they had just experienced. 

Bug it, kid. It's getting dark out and I'm going to miss Judge Judy

Ah, Thanksgiving. Another year nearly in the books. Another one  enjoyed. Another one survived. Another blog-worthy Bowman experience.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.
 May we appreciate and give thanks for many things:
Our health, our freedom, our jobs...our family. 
And the fact that we survived childhood and went on to become fairly normal adults. 


  1. Praise Jesus that we are not the only ones who 1) eat radishes on Thanksgiving (or lots of other days); 2) eat herring during the holidays (although ours is pickled and not smoked); and 3) rival the Griswolds on the family fun scale!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

  2. I have never seen a redish that large

  3. Lindsay - The empty place setting may have been unintentional...but a friend once told me about a custom in their family of pulling up an empty seat at celebrations for any angels that cared to join them - it was a reminder of those that have gone on, but are not forgotten. The thought makes me smile. She did say they sometimes had live angels - unexpected guests/friends - that got to sit there as well.