November? What the hell?

Thanksgiving with college friends in our tiny apartment.

College friends in our tiny apartment eating on two mattresses on the floor.

I can’t believe it’s already November. To make it worse, everywhere I look the poor turkeys are being squeezed out by the holiday stuff. What the hell?

It’s too bad because a holiday devoted to being thankful and food overload is my kind of holiday. I’ve always loved it — so much, that in college, we made Thanksgiving dinner and ate on two mattresses on the floor because we didn’t have a table big enough.

In preparation, I was watching a video of  a Mid ’80s Tunno Thanksgiving. My brother taped it form me,  since I was in California. My nephews are small, loud, running around, and everyone’s talking in my parents crowded dining room. My mom’s scurrying around the oven in a white dress with big blue polkadots like a large, rapidly moving swiss cheese.

The Tunno Family at Thanksgiving circa 1980 (I think).

The Tunno Family at Thanksgiving circa 1980 (I think).

My favorite part is when she’s trying to say grace and finally yells, “Shut uppa!” Then without a breath taken,  launches immediately into, “Inna da name offa da Father, da Son anna da Holy Spirit.” She then says this very earnest blessing:

“Bless ussa o Lord and dese dye gift which we are bound to receive, from dye boundy, troo Christ our Lord Amen.” Then she adds: “Tang a you God for da grace anna blessing you have a bestayed (bestowed) upon a me anna my husband anna my children. I tang a you God for dissa beoodeful day wid alla my family around a me.” Then she dips a tiny whisk into some holy water she got from our church and liberally drenches everyone at the table with it, as if she was Pope Francis himself.

God, I miss that woman!


Yummy spiced cranberries – our family favorite.

So, if your family is still with you. Enjoy them, listen, laugh with them…OK — maybe at them. Commit their best lines to memory, or tape them. Drench them with holy water.  Don’t worry about your bills, your weight or how sad you’ll be once they die, just be present and have fun. You don’t know it, but you’re creating a memory you’re going to rely on someday.  Make it a good one.

Since Christmas is quickly eclipsing Thanksgiving, I’m giving Turkey Day its due. I’m offering my favorite recipe for stuffing and my favorite  spiced cranberry sauce recipe. My daughter used to snuggle in our burgundy afghan on the floor in the glow of the  fireplace eating bowls of it while reading her favorite books.

In my next blog, I’m offering my mom’s recipe for stuffing (with ground meat, cheese and mushrooms — yum). I’ll also have a classic story about the first Thanksgiving my brother Bob brought home his girlfriend, Patty and how she was pressed into service transcribing one of my mom’s angry complaint letters.

(A quick note: If you’re one of those stinking overachievers who simply must get all your holiday shopping done before Thanksgiving, then, at least, have the decency to buy something from my store!)

Fran’s Sausage Chestnut Stuffing

Fran's Italian Sausage, Chestnut Stuffing.

Fran’s Italian Sausage, Chestnut Stuffing.

*1 box of Turkey or Chicken Flavored Stove Stop (no mocking – please see asterisk)



2 1/2 stalks celery chopped

1 cups roasted chestnuts (if they’re hard, roast them, then soak them in some water before adding them)

1 cups Italian sausage removed from it’s casing, cooked and drained

Cook stuffing according to directions, melting 1/4 cup butter in 1 1/2 cups water then stirring it all together once the butter melts.  Add the celery, chestnuts and sausage to the stuffing mixture. If not stuffing the turkey right away, store stuffing in refrigerator.

*All you purists out there, don’t mock me for using Stove Top. Until I am a woman of leisure, it’s the easy way and I’m a fan of easy during the holidays. I may try actual chopped bread  and make it from scratch like my mom did one day soon. I’ll report back when I do. If you have a recipe that’s good, send it to me! I’d love to hear.

Fran’s Spiced Cranberry Sauce 

1 12 oz package of cranberries

1/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

Cook on stovetop until cranberries pop. Remove from heat, cover and serve when cooled. (This can also be made in the microwave.  Just cook covered for 3 minutes, stir, cook another 3 minutes and stir, then cook another 3 minutes and it’s done! (If the cranberries pop sooner, it may not have to cook as long.)

16 thoughts on “November? What the hell?

  1. I love your sentiment about being in the moment, Fran… and all the rest of that very sage advice. Lord, I have a couple of memories of my mom and my aunt actually swinging at one another on Thanksgiving (the grateful part of the holiday was somehow lost on them). They are all gone now, but live brightly in my memories. If the kids are with Roger, next year, you are HERE, okay?

  2. Hi Fran,
    I love all the stories and love the recipes. I smile and laugh as I read what you have to say about whatever topic you have chosen to write about. Thank you for the lift of joy whenever I read this blog!

  3. We sure did put on a feast! I wonder what my contribution was since the kitchen has never been my forte? Probably brought the “pepsi” 🙂

  4. Lordie, do I remember THAT Thanksgiving! Still hysterical after all these years. You bring it back to life well, tweedster, . . .LOL! Don’t go into shock, I may be cooking this year, ha!

  5. I second Matilda thoughts, it’s so hard to be far away from our loved ones. Perhaps I see a two-mattress, misfit Thanksgiving in our future, ladies… The whisk and the Holy water, I’m stealing that!

  6. Fran,
    I am so enjoying your blog and the new store front! I have always admired your story telling-it feels like we are just chatting over a glass of wine…you definitely have a gift and talent.
    I wanted to drop you a note after reading the Price Is Right story (I remember it like it was yesterday) but like the road to hell, mine is paved with good intentions! I could not let Thanksgiving or your Mom’s stuffing go without a note to you. I think that is me in the lower left corner of the photo and if not, I was there for the next Thanksgiving. I remember the extra LA ingredient in the stuffing and having a great time in sunny CA, think I was still living in Youngstown!!
    I miss you, hope all is well and enjoy keeping in touch with your funny and touching stories. Hope your travels bring you to Phoenix in the near future.

    • Hi Susan,
      I am so happy to hear from you and am so glad you are enjoying the blog! I thought you were in Orange County now, but have you moved to Phoenix? When did that happen? How did I miss it? Well DOH!

      I’m glad the posts are resonating with you. Feel free to tell your brother and sister, Bobby and Michelle, right?, I am sure they could identify! Thanks again for taking the time to write!

  7. i Love Thanksgiving, and growing up, it was my favorite holiday!
    Thank you for your wisdom, (your recipes), and for sharing more about your Mama.
    i’ll be away from my dearest and best for Thanksgiving again this year, and it makes me all the more thankful for the memories i have…..

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