Reader Reply: November 2021

Share a special Thanksgiving memory

Thanksgiving 2018, which took place for me on Nov. 24 (the Saturday after the holiday), was very special to me, because it would turn out to be the last holiday I would spend with my mother.

It was a combined Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration and included my mom’s four children, a couple of sons-in-law, the majority of her 11 grandchildren, and her brother and his wife from Bismarck.

Savory catered entrees lent a tempting, mouthwatering scent to the spacious banquet room where we gathered. Luscious homemade favorite family treats were munched on appreciatively, as family members reminisced. There were gift bags for each grandchild from my mother, although I do not believe she was physically capable of assembling those gifts. At age 79, having lived with diabetes since she was around 30 years of age, the disease had wreaked havoc with her physical abilities.

She passed away just eight months after this gathering, but the memory of this get-together will always be treasured by me.

Yvonne Sortland-Stegner
Formerly of Slope Electric Cooperative

My favorite Thanksgiving memory is the year we butchered our own turkey and ate it for Thanksgiving dinner.

We got the turkeys as chicks in the mail, and they were cute and fun to watch! After we had them for about six weeks, they would want to eat bugs, so they would wander around all over the yard and then we would chase them back. They did that frequently until we got them a pen. We would give them a wet grain, and they would peck at me until I fed them.

Butchering is hard work, and our turkeys were huge! We had trouble butchering because of how big the turkeys were. They were about 20 pounds! When we were butchering, it started raining on us, but fortunately we were already cleaning the birds. My favorite part of butchering was getting it done!

We brined our Thanksgiving turkey for three days and cooked it in the oven. We had mashed potatoes that we grew in our garden, creamed corn, the turkey and pumpkin pie for dessert. We had snow on Thanksgiving, so we went outside and built snowmen and went sledding, then got to come in to a warm meal. The turkey sure was good!

Donavin Vetter, age 11
McLean Electric Cooperative

My special Thanksgiving memory is one from more than 50 years ago, in 1970. After serving a two-year hitch in the U.S. Army, I had moved to the Los Angeles, Calif., area with an Army buddy in search of sunshine and job opportunities. Together, we had rented a funky, old house in the hills south of Hollywood.

As the holiday neared, he and I, along with a couple of co-workers, reminisced about how lonely the holidays had been while overseas in the service. We decided we would gather and host a “Thanksgiving for orphans,” as all of us were far away from our families. We decided the guys would do all the cooking, with a little supervision, and the girls would do most of the cleanup.

As word of the idea got out, more and more people asked if they could come. We decided to make a list of what was needed and parcel it out to the invitees. By the time the big Thursday had arrived, we had over 20 people coming, bringing everything from drinks to hams and pies.

As I was trying to make the gravy, the phone rang. It was the next-door neighbor of a musician friend who had heard of the party and asked if she could attend. Of course, I said, and told her she need not bring any food, as we were all set. She replied she would provide the after-dinner entertainment.

It turned out she was a successful professional magician and she put on quite a performance, including live rabbits from hats, while my musician friend played my piano.

Over the years, I have lost contact with many of the attendees, but those who are still in contact (and with us) always remind me of our special family Thanksgiving dinner, which is one I will remember forever.

Donald Cameron
North Central Electric Cooperative

Thanksgiving took on a whole new meaning the year our family decided to forego the traditional meal of bounty in an attempt to more accurately identify with the pilgrims’ meager spread of that Thanksgiving.

Pulling only from ingredients on hand, we put together a meal of leftover meat, vegetables and a grain product. Then, drawing from the well-known children’s tale of “Stone Soup,” we added (for fun) a rounded half-dollar size stone to the soup mixture. Cornmeal bread, plus a dish of pumpkin pudding (not pie!) rounded out our meal.

Viewing a table of “less,” rather that plenty, generated a sincere prayer of humble gratitude. We found that thankfulness came from a fullness in our hearts, not our stomachs.

This family tradition has been duplicated other Thanksgivings, always using the same stone and always being mindful of our “daily bread,” lest we take abundance for granted.

Joyce Wagner
McLean Electric Cooperative

DECEMBER: What’s your greatest wish for 2022?
Deadline for submission: Nov. 12

JANUARY: What’s your secret to keeping a resolution?
Deadline for submission: Dec. 10

We want to hear FROM you: Submissions should be no more than 250 words, typewritten or in legible handwriting. Include your name, complete address, daytime phone number and the name of the rural electric cooperative to which you belong. Note: Magazine staff reserves the right to make editing changes and cuts. We pay $25 for each letter we print. Email to or mail to READER REPLY, North Dakota Living, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727.