A Lukewarm Thanksgiving Turkey

Over ten years ago my husband, son and I traveled from North Carolina to South Carolina to share Thanksgiving with our respective families. My brother, J, and his wife, D, and my nephew and wife live in Simpsonville, South Carolina. My husband’s family lived in Greenville.

For most family holidays we usually stayed at J and D’s home because they had more room for guests. They are so much fun and we always got along great with them. We would then split the festivities between my family and my husband’s family.

Table ready for family meal.
Table ready for family meal.

We brought a large, frozen turkey for the big family meal. The turkey was transported to South Carolina in a Styrofoam cooler to allow it to thaw safely. It was about a five and a half hour drive so the turkey would be safe.

But when we got to their home we found their refrigerator full of prepared dishes for the next day. We just couldn’t “stuff” that big bird in the refrigerator to let it continue to thaw.

So we “hatched” a “gobbler” of a plan. The temperature that night was predicted to be freezing. On the back of J and D’s house is a glass-enclosed sun-room with plastic strips for the two dogs to use as a door, when they want to go in and out of the sun-room, which was freezing cold. We put the turkey in the Styrofoam cooler with the lid off, on the glass table in the sun room.

With the overnight freezing temperatures; the turkey would be somewhat insulated by the cooler but only enough to keep it from refreezing and allow it to thaw. The turkey would thaw as well as it would in a refrigerator and remain nice and cool in the freezing temperatures. Right?

Thanksgiving morning we went out to check the turkey. It was almost warm!! Either the sun room overnight didn’t get as cold as we expected or the Styrofoam cooler insulated the turkey too much after it had thawed and failed to keep it cool. I still don’t understand what went wrong.

With the thawed turkey at room temperature I couldn’t serve it to our families. Visions raced through my head of my brother, his wife, my nephew and his wife, my husband, son and me violently ill in the emergency room, from salmonella or food poisoning from the Thanksgiving turkey, all because I refused to throw the turkey away!

I hate to waste food!! The now defunct words of my mother and father rang in my head, “Eat your food. Don’t waste your food. Think of the starving children in China.” I wonder what my mother would have thought of this situation. But I would hate it worse if my loved ones got sick because I didn’t want to waste a turkey. I couldn’t risk it.

So my sister in law and I went to the grocery store and thankfully found the last turkey in the refrigerator; just the right size and already thawed!

The remainder of Thanksgiving was delightful and no one got sick. The turkey was wonderful and so was Thanksgiving.

13 thoughts on “A Lukewarm Thanksgiving Turkey

    1. Thank you, Kiwinana. My first son and wife brought pictures from their wedding in September and my second son and wife brought the grandbaby. I was a happy camper! Daughter in law did most of the cooking, for which I was thankful. She is a registered dietitian and enjoys cooking.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m glad your Thanksgiving was blessed. It had to be. You found the last turkey in the grocery freezer already thawed. It’s like you were being tested, and because you passed with flying colors were gifted with the peaceful family feast you’d hoped for. Maybe…an even better one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had that same Thanksgiving guardian angel one year, turkey spoiled in the garage overnight, didn’t find out until 10 pm. Went frantically to the grocery store, bought Cornish game hens..the only non-frozen poultry left. Glad your dinner and mine worked out, Elaine. Thanks for sharing. I have a feeling those holiday nightmares happen to us all at one time or another. Happy Thanksgiving.


  3. Classic story. We had one Thanksgiving ( in October here in Canada) when the power went out and we had to cook the turkey on the barbeque. We had to cut it up or it would have taken days. We cooked the potatoes in foil in the fireplace. Somehow these narrowly adverted disasters make the best memories. Thanks for sharing yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Our family story revolves around gravy. One Thanksgiving my mother took a trip and left the rest of us to cook the meal. I did most of it but my nephew (great cook) said he would make the gravy. He underestimated the power of flower and you could stand a spoon up straight in the gravy. We laughed so hard at the gravy pudding! Also, we almost always burn the biscuits!


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