Not all cranberries

IN our family when the children were small, Thanksgiving was not only a time to give thanks but to reflect on the history of the previous year. So each time we sat down at the big meal, we would share our little histories with the family and guests. Front and center in our history was our dog Bacco, a three-pound fox terrier who was beside himself most of every Thanksgiving Day. The problem was that Mallie would put the turkey in the oven at an early hour, and the wonderful aroma of a cooking turkey would lead Bacco to anticipate by several hours his usual evening meal. That meant yelping and general disorientation that usually required our resorting to feeding him his turkey early so the rest of us could enjoy our meal.

And, of course, he could feast for days on the big bird, and so was far more thankful than the rest of us for leftovers.

No Thanksgiving was complete without talking about that year's (and the previous year's) Turkey Bowl, the football competition on our street held midday on Thanksgiving between a team consisting of my son, Tommy, and his friend Brian and a team consisting of Kelly and me. Tommy, Brian, and Kelly were all the same age but not of equal athletic prowess, with Kelly (and me for that matter) likely to be the third kid chosen in a three-player team. No matter, Kelly and I teamed together for years on end, always the neighborhood favorite, but never the victor.

Except once. That was the year that Kelly could miss no pass and we won by three touchdowns, much to the surprise and chagrin of Tommy and Brian.

To be sure, Thanksgiving was not always cranberry sauce and good stuffing in our memories. When Tommy was about five years old, he would get upset that we would honor the day by sitting around the dining room table eating a turkey - which, he reasoned at that early age, was a bird that like the rest of the animal kingdom should be left alone. Finally Tommy acquiesced in our decision to eat turkey, but he continued to have misgivings. These were reflected in the caption of a picture he drew shortly before the following holiday: ``Thanksgiving: A Great Day for America - But Not for the Turkey.''

Thomas V. DiBacco is a historian at the American University.

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