Hello? Is anyone out there?

With a blogging rotation that assigns me the fourth Wednesday of every month, I’m always stuck blogging the day before Thanksgiving. Hello? Is anybody out there? Probably not. I imagine you’re all either busy prepping in the kitchen or spending the day traveling over the river and through the woods or in the air on the way to grandma’s (or some other relative’s) house.

Not me. Our older son and his family have established their own Thanksgiving tradition on the other side of the country, and our younger son and his family rotate every year between spending Thanksgiving with us and his wife’s family in upstate New York. It’s the New York contingent’s turn this year.

My husband and I are hosting another couple without family in the area, and the four of us have decided to split the cost of a catered meal from one of the local supermarkets. No stress, no slaving in the kitchen, and enough leftovers for at least one additional meal for both couples. My kind of Thanksgiving.

Many people will tell you that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. For me, over the course of my life most Thanksgivings have been anything but Norman Rockwell pleasant. Thanks to my father, Thanksgiving tensions ran high when I was a child. To say he was disliked (and rightfully so) by other members of the family, would be an understatement.

When I married, my mother-in-law insisted on hosting Thanksgiving every year, forcing us to suffer through undercooked turkey and raw piecrust. It’s a wonder no one ever got food poisoning. One year we accepted an invitation from friends. I figured at some point our ptomaine-free luck was going to run out because her cooking was growing worse with each passing year.

My mother-in-law hit the roof and refused to speak to us for months. No great punishment, as far as I was concerned. That may sound harsh until you realize she’s the inspiration behind my sleuth’s communist mother-in-law in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. Lucille Pollack is the character my readers love to hate.

Once my mother-in-law passed on to the great communist commune in the sky, I began hosting Thanksgiving. We had some very enjoyable ones with other family members and friends, and for the first time in my life, I began to look forward to Thanksgiving. But then we moved from New Jersey to Tennessee a year and a half ago, and the only family nearby are the ones currently enjoying Thanksgiving in the snows of upstate New York.


But on the bright side, Christmas is right around the corner. As an early holiday gift, if you are reading this post, I’m giving away one audiobook (US or UK residents only) of Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. To enter, post a comment about one of your own memorable (or not so memorable) Thanksgiving experiences.


USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

25 replies
  1. Dru Ann
    Dru Ann says:

    I hope you get to spend Christmas with your sons and their family.

    Actually the best Thanksgiving was when my mom and my sisters shared in the day. Now that she is gone, I prefer to spend the holiday alone.

  2. Lois Winston
    Lois Winston says:

    Dru, if we didn’t live so far from each other now, you’d be welcome to join us. And yes, we get the Nashville family for Christmas this year, which I’d much prefer anyway. Have a peaceful Thanksgiving!

  3. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    Our wedding anniversary almost always falls around the Thanksgiving weekend. Early on, it was our only chance to get away from the business we owned, and we usually spent the time at an out-of-town destination to celebrate. Like yours, Lois, our family is scattered in all directions nowadays. Given the current state of air travel, we chose not to fly across the country to join my brother’s family, though I know we’ll be missing quite a feast. Tomorrow, we’ll share a meal with another couple, grateful for another trip around the sun.

  4. Debra H. Goldstein
    Debra H. Goldstein says:

    Our traditions are evolving – we’ve always had an every other year big family Thanksgiving with the alternate year allowing the younger generation to go to in-laws. It eventually passed from my mother-in-law running it to my sister-in-law or me. Based upon my sister-in-law’s age (and that of our children), we’ve begun slowly passing it to the next generation to host the monstrosity. One thing has remained the same in the hand-off (the younger generation does the work, but while here, the older generation pays). Looking at all the grandchildren and the promise of a great – grandchild (my sister-in-law is much older than I am)…I can already see the future lining up.

    • Lois Winston
      Lois Winston says:

      Debra, for more than four decades we spent Christmas Eve with friends who eventually had nine children. After a few years we were joined by another couple and their three kids. When all the children started having children, Christmas Eve went from a sit-down meal to a buffet and finding a seat wherever you could grab one, even on the stairs! But that day was always one of the highlights of my year, and I really miss it.

  5. Saralyn
    Saralyn says:

    Undercooked turkey and pie crusts? Oh, my! I love Thanksgiving, mainly because of the message of gratitude, which I try to practice year-round, but which everyone seems to practice at this holiday. I’m thankful for you and the other Stiletto Gang authors, and all of the readers out there, who make our lives rich beyond measure.

  6. Kathryn Lane
    Kathryn Lane says:

    I also love Thanksgiving in the way Saralyn’s wonderful words describe it. Much as I had wanted to cook a big meal this year and invite friends over, we are getting together with close friends and going to a lovely restaurant for Thanksgiving.
    I enjoyed reading about the mothers-in-law. Although I’ve been married twice, I’ve never had the joy (or dismay) of having a mother-in-law. Both of my fathers-in-law were widowed by the time I came into the family. I adored both of my fathers-in-law!

  7. Mary Beth Magee
    Mary Beth Magee says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Lois! I, too, had a mother-in-law who demanded we spend every holiday with her. She was very snobbish and insisted on buying the most expensive name brand turkey she could find – the one with all the stuff injected into the breast to puff it up and supposedly make it more tender and juicy. One Thanksgiving she baked it either too long or at too high a temperature (or a combination of the two, perhaps) and what she brought to the table was the turkey version of Twiggy! All the injected stuff was in the bottom of the pan and the bird was tough and dry as jerky. I was a good girl, though. I didn’t laugh out loud or make any snide comments. Like the Biblical Mary, who “hid these things in her heart” I just pull out the memory for laughs nearly half a century later.

  8. Lynn McPherson
    Lynn McPherson says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Lois. Canadian Thanksgiving was back in October and we did a big potluck at our house. My mother-in-law, my parents, and our siblings all came together for a memorable meal. Hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner!

  9. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    Oh my gosh! This post brought back memories. Seriously, Lois, has it been a year-and-half already? I just spent a week in Colorado — I’ve been in Colorado so much the last five months, I’m beginning to think I should claim dual residency. Speaking as one who did get food poisoning at Thanksgiving, I would have refused to eat undercooked turkey. At least your mother-in-law gave you inspiration. And your Thanksgiving this year sounds ideal 🙂

    • Lois Winston
      Lois Winston says:

      It was quite enjoyable, Donnell. Hope yours was, too.

      As for my mother-in-law’s turkey, we were young and stupid–until we finally wised up! The problem with undercooked turkey is that you’re not necessarily aware of it when it’s served to you. The pie crust was evident after the first time. From then on, we ate the apples and left the crust.

  10. Barb Eikmeier
    Barb Eikmeier says:

    Lois, As a military family we often attended the grand Thanksgiving Feast in the dining facility on post. Many soldiers don’t get to go home for Thanksgiving and the unit event serves not only as a chance for the military chefs to show off their talents but it also gave those single soldiers a fantastic holiday meal and a chance to see their commanding officer serving up the mashed potatoes. All regional foods were represented so no matter where you hailed from there was a good chance your favorite sides would be served! Then we came home, changed out of our fine clothing and I cooked a mini Thanksgiving with all the trimmings for my small family. Now, when she’s with us, my daughter does the cooking and my husband does the clean up.

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