The Return of the TGB Geriatrician
Thanksgiving Day 2010

Elder Thanksgiving Preparation

category_bug_journal2.gif It's the big prep day for our annual Thanksgiving celebration in the U.S. It's such a nice holiday, don't you think? Food, family and friends – no pressure, just feasting and relaxing with people we love.

Although the state of the economy, high unemployment, our rancid politics and a dubious future make it hard for many of our countrymen and women this year, it is still a time for those of us who are getting by to count our blessings.

Among mine are you, the readers of and contributors to Time Goes By. Hardly a day passes that at least one of you and often more, in the comments or personal email, tell me how much you like this blog.

When I started TGB seven years ago, the farthest thing from my mind was that it would become such a source of friendship, learning, camaraderie and enjoyment. Blogging was just beginning to take off then and the phrase “social media” didn't exist yet. Now I count among my friends and acquaintances people from all around the U.S. and the world.

The blog gives focus to my life in the way jobs did during my working years. I was lucky that most of my career involved fascinating people and work, but this is more thoroughly satisfying for the personal connections that are such a delightfully unexpected result.

So thank you, each and every reader, those who lurk and those who comment and also those whose contributions make the companion blog, The Elder Storytelling Place, such a rich compendium of stories, memories and a history of our generation's lives.

Thank you too, to the regular contributors. Jan Adams who writes the Gay and Gray column. Saul Friedman who supplies such important, thoroughly researched and knowledgeable information in his Gray Matters and Reflections columns. Peter Tibbles – I can't imagine Sunday anymore without his Elder Music stories that make me laugh and teach me things I never knew before.

I'm thrilled that Dr. Bill Thomas has rejoined us as The TGB Geriatrician. And although he works behind the scenes, Kavan Peterson is amazing at organizing Dr. Thomas and me to get these new videos done.

Thank you seems a puny response to the joy, comfort, kindness and good cheer you all give me every day, but that's the best I can do.

I like cooking and I especially like this annual meal. For many years, I spent the holiday with friends, a large family who live in rural Pennsylvania where there were about 30 guests each year. I would arrive the day before and help with the preparations. My specialty was the gravy – I'm very good at it.

Occasionally, in off-years, I would make Thanksgiving dinner in New York for friends who either had no family or couldn't get home that year. Usually 10 or 12 people. This year, in Oregon, I'm having a smaller Thanksgiving here with my brother and his wife. My brother and I haven't shared this holiday since 1955 – exactly 55 years ago. We were kids then, he age nine and me 14.

I'm an American traditionalist about this meal. I figure one day a year of food that the medical community tells us isn't all that healthy won't hurt much. Even so, as a small sop to advancing years, I've cut down on the number of dishes and adapted some to be slightly less fatty – less butter mainly – and I still think, as I always have, that the best part of the meal is the turkey skin. If I could get away with it, I'd share it with no one and make it my entree.

My brother will bring the wine and dessert. The rest of the menu this year goes like this:

  • Turkey
  • Sage dressing
  • A separate dish of oyster dressing
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Mashed potatoes – lumpy with skins because I like it that way
  • Gravy
  • Minted corn
  • Green beans
  • Sourdough bread to mop up the gravy

If you can spare the time from your own preparations, tell us what your Thanksgiving meal will be and what family traditions you have.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcia Mayo: Don't Move Pat. He Got Run Over by a Fire Truck


I am grateful you started TGB and that I discovered it. I am also grateful you took the time today to post a blog.

I live in a suburb of Washington DC, and it is too quiet around here during a holiday week, especially Thanksgiving. All the members of Congress and their staffs have gone home to their districts, as has the WH staff.

I hope when they return they are filled with good will and a spirit of compromise not showmanship. We need more civility around here.

As far as food goes, we are having the traditional fare, not different from yours and celbrating at home as we are loathe to drive very far. Have a good Thanksgiving and enjoy your food. There must be one day of the year we can just simply eat without fear.

PS I love butter.

Your menu sounds divine. May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving reunion with your brother. And even though I am on the younger end of the baby boomer generation I have always appreciated your thoughts and perspectives on issues of aging. There is not a week that goes by that I don't visit your blog to read not only your thoughts but those of others who write their comments in response. For that I am grateful.

I am the same way about Thanksgiving with thinking the food should be traditional and when I get the opportunity to fix it, I keep to the old standards with a few tweaks sometimes with the vegetable maybe. We will spend it this year in Medford as our daughter's husband is a veterinarian who has to work Friday; so the family will gather there with a long time family friend to keep to the tradition of sharing. It'll be the basics. I'll bring ice cream, chips, salsa, dinner rolls, and a pumpkin-almond bread that we like as a snack addition.

I agree - TGB is something I'm grateful for.

For Thanksgiving, our extended family will gather at my cousin's house. I'm lucky; although the family is small these days--the elder elders have mostly died and a lot of us didn't have kids--enough of us live nearby so we can gather together. I'm lucky to have two aunts and an uncle, all in their 80s, here in town. They'll be there, along with my cousin's and sister's kids, and assorted in-laws to keep us from being too inbred. And, if the weather continues to hold hear in Buffalo, at least one cousin will come in from Albany.

I make the butternut squash, my sister makes the pies, and my cousin and her daughter do all the heavy lifting.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

First, I am very thankful for this blog. It's the one I quote most often in conversations and I've directed dozens of friends to it. Aside from a very few years when my sister and brother were in college, we've always had a family thanksgiving. Now that our parents are gone, we gather at my sister's (for all holidays--she's midway between the rest of us). We do an organic turkey, cooked plain. This year we'll have mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, corn from my brother's garden, probably macaroni and cheese (a family staple for the vegetarians--and everyone loves it). And always Mom's cranberry relish (we always believed it was her recipe until we found it printed on the bag of cranberries!) and canned black olives--both long standing traditions. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

No Thanksgiving for us ex-pat Brits in south west Turkey but we are already embroiled in Christmas preparations. I found swede (a rarety here) on a market last week so it is peeled and chopped in the freezer ready for the Big Day. You do a great job with the blog Ronni and I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow. Now I must get back to my Christmas knitting!!!

There will be a pot-luck style Thanksgiving at my eldest daughter's home in Des Moines. I'm bringing the cranberry sauce, a corn dish and the veggie tray. My ex-husband, wife and her daughter and family, will join us. My husband will eat with his daughter's family here in Ames. For each of us, this will be a kind of farewell feast and family time before we depart for So. Texas for the winter. I'm so thankful that relationships are such that these kinds of gatherings are OK with everyone.

I hope that by, or well before, this time next year, all of you who have children out of work, as I do, will have the relief of new jobs to be thankful for. We are celebrating two new jobs this Thanksgiving. One more is (desperately) needed!

Even though I will not have a thansgiving dinner this year I have much to be thankful for. My family (whom I will be seeing next month), my friends, the fact that I have been granted so many years on this beautiful planet, good health, and a comfortable home.

I am also very thankful that I found TGB because it has been an inspiration to me, as well as introducing me to the blogging world. I have many virtual friends that are as close as the ones I can physically hug.

I am grateful that, as a child, I had Normal Rockwell Thanksgivings to remember and cherish. Tradition was very big in my home and I carried it on until my last child left. The memories sustain me now.

I am thankful for you and your blog, Ronni. Have been since the day I discovered it. Thank you!

We don't normally do a Thanksgiving dinner here in Sweden. It's a LOT of work for one person (me) who isn't an experienced cook. But I'll be thinking of you all and -- Ronni, do NOT steal the turkey skin off your brothers plate! :)

Yup, I like all the other are grateful that you and yours are in our lives. Even politics and Crabby Old Lady are appreciated.

Thanksgiving was at my grandma's house when I was really small, then when she grew frail, the fuss moved to our house.

After I left home, there were few regular Thanksgiving traditions until a few years ago. Now every year we bring something to a newcomers club house at the beach. Last year, for instance, we brought pies. Nope, armloads of folks didn't sign up and brought pies. We had a wall of pies. So this year we are bringing a high fat, high calorie cole slaw sweetened a little to go well with the sweet meal we share with all these folks who have their lives back.

It's a special time for us, and I am grateful to be alive to share the day with others.

Yup! I too love Thanksgiving & do the traditional thing with only my dear sweet mom here, but many family & friends stopping by later in the day. As well, I've much to be thankful for especially being a part of the TGB family of friends & neighbors & of course, thanks Ronni for all you do. :)Dee PS:your preparation of mashed potatos sounds awfully good. I just may try.

Happy Thanksgiving, Ronni!!!!

I'm a traditionalist for Thanksgiving, too! And I, like you, will be with my brother and his family who are hosting the feast except for what I'm bringing. My nephew will be there with his fiancee and her daughter as will my niece and her darling daughters.

Our menu is pretty much the same as yours. Do you make your cranberry sauce from fresh berries? I don't like the canned stuff despite almost choking at the cost of the berries which will be my contribution to the feast as well as pumpkin cupcakes for the girls.

I've counted every holiday as a gift for the last 32 years. I am thankful for all of them.

I love to cook and now have my daughter to help.

A Brined Turkey
Cornbread dressing
Fruited wild rice dressing
roasted butternut squash
roasted brussels sprouts
cranberry chutney
mashed potatoes
green salad with poached pears, hazelnuts and gorgonzola
pumpkin pie
cranberry/apple crisp

Since we are introducing a new significant other this year, we are having Asian-inspired Thanksgiving. Many familiar dishes, most with a little flavor tweak for inspiration. Ronni, I would love to see your gray recipe. My mother usually does it, but the combination of my new stovetop, the Asian thing, and her advancing memory issues, means I'm on deck. I could use all the advice you've got.

Kept at home by weather, I'll be dining with my youngest son's in-laws who have scooped all of us up as their own on holidays. All the grandkids will be there. The menu is traditional, I am bringing low cal/low carb cheesecake and gravy to keep those of us who are diabetic from going into a total coma tomorrow. Hope to go for a walk in sunshine and view the snowy landscape post meal.

Hello Ronni,

Every day is Thanksgiving day for me.

Thanks for my family who are gathering at my daughter's home in Chicago this year.

Thanks for my health and,as Darlene said,for all the years I have been granted on this wonderful planet.

Thanks for a husband who is kind and easy to live with and ,most of all, he's FUN.

Thanks to you,Ronni, for saving me from a life of loneliness and boredom with your wonderful blog. It is the first thing I turn to every morning. You have introduced me to so many people who I now consider friends.

Not a week goes by that something you have written is not printed for my husband to read and for me to save for future reference. You have made it possible for me to explain Health Care,Social Security, and many other subjects to my friends who do not use a computer and can not read you themselves.

Your Elder Storytelling Place has meant more to me than you can ever know. Because of you, I have been encouraged to write down all the stories that are stored in my memory and now will not die with me, They will be read by future generations of my family. As I have mentioned before, I think that when an old person dies it is like the library has burnt down. Well, the library that my family is interested in will never burn down, thanks to you and the Elder Storytelling Place.

Happy Thanksgiving,Ronni.....

To those who asked about food preparation:

Whole berry, plain cranberry sauce from scratch with less sugar than the package recipe calls for so it is more tart and sweet.

Gravy is an all day affair. I cook and chop the giblets fine, saving the cooking water).

Chop a carrot or two and a celery stalk or two and a medium onion (the amount depends on the size of the turkey) very, very fine. Tiny.

All this goes in a pan on the top of the stove and as the turkey is roasting, I siphon off drippings every 30 minutes or so into the pan keeping the mixture at a simmer to cook the vegetables and giblets into a mash and cook down the juices.

Over a period of hours, this produces an intense flavor.

When the turkey comes out of the oven to sit for 15 or 20 minutes, I add an appropriate amount of flour to the gravy mixture with some more of the giblet water to thicken the gravy and cook that down some more. (Whoever invented the whisk - probably a Frenchman - has not been honored enough.)

I finish with some more of the giblet water and white wine until the gravy is at a good consistency, and flavor it with a little salt and a LOT of freshly ground black pepper.

The amount of gravy varies each year - turkeys throw off an amazingly different amount of juices.

In the past few years, stores have been carrying four-packs of small bottles of wine. If you haven't discovered these, they are terrific to keep in the pantry for cooking so you don't have to open an entire bottle of wine when you need only a half cup or full cup for whatever you're cooking.

I think these little bottles are a godsend for cooks.

You have always been on my list of people I am grateful for having in my life. I may not always find time to comment on every post, but I read your wise, witty, and wonderful words Roni. I am so lucky to have had you 'introduce' me to the world of blogging with your thoughtful and encouraging support. You are the best! Your Thanksgiving dinner menu looks scrumptious. Have a most beautiful day sweet friend...Happy Thanksgiving. With much love, Joy

Ronni, my mouth is watering already! And Gerrie, can I come over to your house for leftovers? Your menu sounds unique and delicious!

Tip: Fry's carries a Cranberry Relish in their deli called "Cranberry Celebration" that is delish. It has fresh cranberries and pineapple and is on the sweet side with just enough tartness. $6 a pint. Fry's might be Fred Meyer in the Northwest, I think. You might enjoy the Thanksgiving Turkey poem my daughter wrote, it's on my blog. Happy Thanksgiving! (The unemployment numbers are down again -yippee!) And my daughter got into grad school at the University of Washington yesterday.Now, she just needs a job...

I will join the chorus of folks in giving thanks to Ronni and TGB!! At 51, I have a folder that I've marked "elderly info" In it I have printed copies of Ronni's posts on reverse mortgages, along with others. And Saul's posts on Medicare and Social Security.

I too, have told many about this blog. Such a wealth of information!

Now, onto the Feast! I'll be spending it at my sister's home in Fairfax, VA with her husband, two adult daughters and two German Shephards! She roasts THREE turkeys (we all love leftovers) with sage and pork sausage stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry marshmellow fluff salad (a must for her youngest daughter) and my famous creamed onions (shhh, the secret is a dash of nutmeg!), along with snowflake rolls, cranberry and macadamian nut salad, followed by a pumpkin chiffon pie.

We are also celebrating that my 33 year old niece who had to move from Minnesota back in with her parents LAST Thanksgiving due to losing her job, just started a new one last month!!

And those of us who are "of a certain age" should be saving the turkey carcass to make soup...

Downsizing your turkey? The bones in the turkey breast work, too.

We freeze the soup in meal-sized containers.

I'm not sure if younger people do that any more.

Mine will be at our house with others bringing much of the food. :)

Turkey (cooked by our son at his house

Giblet gravy

Squash casserole (daughter in law

Sweet potato souffle (grandson)

Southern cornbread dressing (Me)



Sweet Potato pie (granddaughter)

Pumpkin pie
Pecan pie
Cranberry orange relish

Oh aren't you the dear one for asking us to share. This year just my husband, my son and his girlfriend. Next year maybe many more. Anyway, roast turkey, sage dressing, sweet potato-honey-ginger casserole, mashed garlic potatoes with bacon, steamed asparagus and fennel, spring salad with pomegranete, apple/cranberry cake and LOTS of prepared snacks before.

I am one of those who doesn't cook Thanksgiving meals anymore! I'm so thankful that my son, his wife and daughter drive a long way to join us for the holiday weekend, and we go out for a feast.

I'm also very thankful for you and your blog, Ronni. I don't often post, but wouldn't miss your blog and have learned so much from it. You and the other commenters do seem almost like extended family.

I wish each of you a wonderful holiday and even more to be thankful for.

I have not a cooked Thanksgiving dinner for more than five years -- three living with a vegetarian brother and a mother with dementia, and the last two with my daughter and family (and she cooks). But after reading some of the menus, above, I might join in the cooking next year -- and I'm looking forward to trying your gravy, Ronni. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Me, too! Me, too! I love TGB and the community of unseen-but-much-loved-commenters you attract.

My kids have flown home to join my mom, my friend and her and our neighbors with their 9&11 year old kids. We have all the decades covered except the 70's. The neighbors are bringing pie and cupcakes and green bean casserole (obviating the need for steamed broccoli.. there ought to be one green veggie, don't you agree?) For the rest:
Fresh un-caged turkey
Pepperidge Farm stuffing with only celery as an addition
Sweet potato and apricot puree
Mashed potatoes
Rolls from scratch
Gravy (dare I try your recipe?)
Noodle Kugel (sweet and yummy)
Cranberry Relish (the recipe on the bag... with less sugar because you are so right, it needs the tang)
DESSERT pies with home-made whipped cream

Happy T-day to all!

Ha! Ashleigh...

"green bean casserole...there ought to be one green veggie, don't you agree?"

It's ingrained - green with every meal - but I really stretch to have beans or broccoli on Thanksgiving. I do it only because one OUGHT to, not because I really want it that day.

We're waiting for family traveling here - through areas of freezing rain. So if they stop and wait it out, things may be delayed. Otherwise, we will have a family breakfast of biscuits and gravey, and then some will leave. Dinner will be roast wild turkey, stuffing, corn, etc. We have a ham, too. We will be thankful if all make it here safely.

Ronni, Happy Thanksgiving.

I talk to a few hundred folks a week on the phone for my job. This week I asked a simple question of many of them. "What is your favorite menu item on the Thanksgiving Day meal?"

In my informal survey, (maybe 50 people) The winner was stuffing. Most agreed that it was best during that second meal. You know the one I mean; the meal you eat later in the day with warmed up leftovers. All said the stuffing was even better the second time around.


I am so looking forward to joining with my friends tomorrow at my home. We will be eight charming adults and three adorable kids, ages nine, six, and three! Only two among this crowd are American born: this will be a truly American nonsectarian festival.

Here's the lineup and menu:

Ashish: East Indian meat dish
Chiou family: Taiwanese fried rice and dessert drink
Dexin: Mainland Chinese vegetable dish
Ghimirey family: Bhutanese dumplings
Sherry: American Wine and cider
Tamar: roasted fowl, cranberry dish

I have asked my friends, if they care to, please prepare to share a few words (or songs) from their traditions on the significance and expression of thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation of gifts unearned.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

I am grateful for my family and friends, and especially my friends from the blog world and on Facebook, who mean the world to me and I suspect will do even more so as I get older.

Our meal (celebrated Wed.) consisted of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, corn souffle, pineapple-cheese casserole, green bean casserole, dressing, rolls, pumpkin and apple pies and all manner of beverages. It was fantastic! and I hope your celebration and meal are no less so, Ronni!

Happy Thanksgiving, Ronni. I have learned so much from you over the years about blogging and will never forget your kindness and support for me as a novice blogger. I so enjoyed meeting you when you still lived in NYC! Your blog serves as a model for all of us aging souls.

Have a wonderful day! No special recipes at our end - a quiet and traditional dinner that Tom and I will prepare together for one another - peaceful and restful in our beautiful new home.

Many blessings for you and yours! today!

Thanks for your efforts to maintain this lovely blog that has been such an encouragement to me.

I'm having two thanksgiving meals this year - one with my in laws which will feature a deep fried turkey and some really excellent pies. I'll be bringing a spin on the green bean casserole. It will be green beans, velveeta, and rotel, this family likes things spicy.

Friday I am cooking for my children and their father. The meal will feature dressing as his mother makes it, home baked rolls, mashed potatoes, a spicy Sri Lankan sweet potato dish, Brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds, cranberry/blueberry sauce, and the traditional green bean casserole. With pie, of course!

want to hear my thanksgiving recipe, the kids won't allow any changes. I can still do it all.
Turkey, stuffing with sausage & chop meat, etc. Sweet potatoe pie with marshmellows on top, ugh! Corn, Peas, broccli salad

I bake 2 pies, pumpkin & apple and then I say a prayer.
Happy thanksgiving to all.
estelle Bruno

I've decided that the time for moderation in those pleasures like butter was when I was much much younger, and that it's too late now to worry about any damage it might do. So I enjoy the rich flavors of forbidden food on feast days without feeling one scintilla of guilt.

I am thankful this year to be with my son. For the first time in 20 years I fixed cornbread dressing, the staple when my children were growing up. I struggled to remember how to do it because I never wrote down a recipe,or if I did, it is long lost.

I thank you Ronni, for keeping up this site. It is a pleasure to have some place to go online where I can visit with people my age.

Minted corn! That sounds delicious! Your entire menu sounds delicious. How can it make me hungry to read about it when I am still relatively full from the Thanksgiving dinner we had at Silver Falls State Park? I simply do not know!

What I do know is that I will begin thawing a small turkey tomorrow so we can enjoy leftovers and turkey soup!

Your blog is great, and I read each post. I don't comment on each one but I am appreciative of your style of writing and the subjects you write about in your posts. I hope your Thanksgiving with your brother and his wife was great. Hubby and I fried some chicken and made mashed potatoes (funny that we life some of them lumpy with some skins too). We made green bean casserole and sweet potatoes and apple pie. We have leftovers but not a weeks worth. Ha.

Thank you for your blog--I read it everyday and often share your ideas with others. I am president of an elders group at our church and we are looking at changing our job description. I think being sages in our faith community and modeling healthy, involved aging would be a valuable contribution--and for that, I rely on your suggestions, ideas, book recommendations, etc. Thank you, thank you--for what you do.

We celebrated this year with our young grandson, born in July. Love that little tyke. Sadly, we also remember our daughter's dear little one who was stillborn in April. This Thanksgiving had been bittersweet for all of us.

In our family gatherings, we often recall by name those in our family who have died. This is a touching and much loved tradition for us.

found you through Mrs. G--
enjoying your blog immensely!

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