November 23

The Greatest Thanksgiving that Almost Didn’t Happen

What does a garage have to do with Thanksgiving? Read on.

Today I wanna tell you a story about the greatest Thanksgiving that almost didn't happen. 

Back in my senior year of college, I lived in a house with two other guys. We were all great friends.

We decided to have our own Thanksgiving the weekend before actual Thanksgiving day. It was a Friendsgiving kind of thing. 

There were the three of us and the respective girlfriends at the time, and we also wanted to invite a few other friends over. 

We had one of our friends bring the turkey in a potluck style. I was making mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Another guy in the house was making desserts. The third guy was in charge of making the holiday punch. 

That holiday punch did pack a punch. A couple of sips of that would put you on your butt. It was the most powerful booze I've ever drank in my life. But man, people loved it. 

Saturday rolls around, and I tell my roommates, “Hey, I hope you guys don't mind. I invited a couple other friends.” 

They have grins on their faces when they both reply, “Yeah, I actually invited a few more people too…” 

It turned out that we had invited around 24 people to our house instead of the eight that we had agreed upon earlier. 

We quickly realized our plans needed to change. 

We knew we couldn't fit everybody in our house's tiny little dining room. 

There was only one option left.

We went to Costco, bought three folding tables, came back, and, well…… we made a dining room out of our garage. 

We cleaned up the garage as best we could,
and hung blankets and sheets with clamps up on the sides to hide all the crap there. 

It gave it a nice cheap college look. 

Mind you – this was Montana in late November. So we heated the place with an old kerosene heater.

We're now three to four hours from mealtime. 

I called my friend who was cooking the turkeys and asked how it was going. He says he's about to put it in to cook.

Now, one turkey for twenty-four people will take about eight hours to cook. We don't have that kind of time. And that didn't seem like enough.

I quickly realized, “That ain't gonna work.”

We're now deciding we got to do something else. We need to somehow get ahold of turkeys and cook them faster. 

Luckily, our friend Brian was the first person I'd ever met who owned a turkey fryer. 

He's already coming for our Friendsgiving, so I called him and said, “Hey, buddy. I need you to bring your Turkey fryer.” 

He agreed and said he'd be there in half an hour. 

During that time, we went back to Costco, bought two big turkeys and two gallons of peanut oil, and headed back home.

Luckily, the turkeys were thawed. We took them, rinsed them off in the sink, then used salt, pepper, and a bunch of other spices. 

While we cleaned them up, Brian got the Turkey fryer going. 

I had never used the Turkey fryer, but we had no time to be scared of things. 

We dunk the turkeys in. 

Brian forgot to tell us about one step with the turkey fryer. You've got to know how to estimate how much oil to put in the pot. 

There's a precise way of doing this. When you put the turkey in, you fill the pot with water, and mark where it is. Then take the turkey back out. When the water falls, make a new mark there. THAT's the level of oil you need to fill it back up with.

It's kind of complicated. We didn't do that. 

Instead, we just dumped two gallons of peanut oil into the turkey fryer and heated it up.

Once we put the first turkey in there… surprise, surprise! We had added too much oil. 

It spilled over and went everywhere. 

But again, we had no time to waste, so we just kept frying. Never been so motivated to get turkeys done.

Luckily, we didn't catch on fire. We didn't set the house on fire either which was our best-case scenario at that point. 

When we started frying the second turkey, we were a little low on oil. I'll admit, some tips of the bird may not have been fully cooked.

But hey, we had turkey!

As we're doing this, our friends start to pour in. 

Our roommate Brad, whose drinking name was Bubby, was entertaining people by handing them holiday punch. Again, this stuff would get you loose in a hurry. 

As we get the turkeys done, we bring them inside and let them cool for a bit.

We have mashed potatoes going. We have green beans going. We're setting up our table in the garage. 

All I can remember is, man, we were hustling that day. 

Finally, I'm confident the turkeys are ready to go, and the mashed potatoes are done.

As we go to sit down on the table, I take the green bean casserole out of the oven and make my way to the garage. 

I trip and fall, dropping the glass casserole dish. It hits the ground and explodes. “Well, looks like we're not having green bean casserole on Thanksgiving.”

The good news was

  • some people brought over other dishes with them,
  • most people were already three or four cups of holiday punch into the adventure, and they probably wouldn't have cared if we served hot dogs. 

We ended up somehow ranging all this together.

I sat there with twenty-three other friends, serving a simple dinner of fried turkey, mashed potatoes, and a few other things that people had brought. 

It ended up being one of the best Thanksgivings I've ever had.

I was with my friends, sitting in a garage decorated with bedsheets, heated by a little kerosene heater. 

We were reminiscing about how college had been.
We were talking about good times to come.
How our team had done in football. 

I have vivid memories of that early hustle, then an evening that never seemed to end. 

We were telling great stories,
having a great time,
and drinking a great (and effective!) drink.

That memory is one of the reasons why I just absolutely love the Thanksgiving holiday. 

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your friends, family, or a mixture of both. 

And if all else goes wrong, try a holiday punch. It seemed to cover over the bad parts of our mismanaged meal. 

And feel free to leave a comment about the things you're grateful for this year – I'd love to read them. 


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