Thanksgiving Tales ~ My First Thanksgiving

By J.P. Lane

The first time I sat down to Thanksgiving dinner was the day after my thirtieth birthday. Let me explain why quickly before I continue, because I know you may be wondering why. I grew up in Jamaica where Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated. Now on with the story. My husband and I, who had just arrived in Puerto Rico and hadn’t yet made friends, were invited to Thanksgiving dinner by one of his clients. With our about to be five years old son in tow, off we went to what we knew was going to be a sit down dinner. It was an evening affair, but our son being an important family member, was invited too. Thanksgiving, after all, is a family deal.

As we arrived at this very cushy apartment and entered the living room, something very unusual immediately struck me. I was the only woman present. And my son, standing close to me on his best behavior, was the only child. I had a question for my husband’s ears only, but he, an urbane Englishman who nothing phased, had immediately taken the situation in stride and was already engaged in lively conversation.

After about an hour of trying to get to know everybody and not succeeding, we adjourned to a dining room with the most elegant Thanksgiving table I’ve ever seen. I remember it to this day. It seated twelve and was centered by a spectacular floral arrangement. At the head of the table sat the father of our host. On my right sat the CEO of one of the largest department stores in Europe. Directly opposite me was the principal of a high school in Brooklyn. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the father of our host was the only single man and my husband and I were the only heterosexual couple at a table where everyone were partners. My son, being just a few weeks short of five, was focused more on being bored than on the uniqueness (to me) of this gathering.

By the time dinner was served, I was starving. Ignoring my mother’s advice from my teen years to “have a bite to eat before you go to dinner – you don’t want to be so hungry you can’t have a conversation,” I crammed my mouth full of salad. Just as I’d loaded my oral cavity to the max, the CEO who had shown little interest in me until that point, asked, “So, how long have you been in Puerto Rico?” I was in a predicament. Salad greens were getting in the way of an answer. I tried to clear the way for conversation in one swallow, but nearly chocked instead. Finally, I held up my hand in a desperate signal that there would be a short delay to my answer.

The gentleman eventually learned how long we’d been in Puerto Rico and where we lived and the turkey et al was eventually devoured by the appreciative guests. Now came dessert. Not being big on dessert, I hadn’t given it a thought until someone murmured, “Ah, pumpkin pie.” Had I heard correctly? Pumpkin pie? I nearly gagged. And here I must remind you that I came from an island where pumpkin was only ever cooked as a savory dish or a very spicy soup. I braced myself for what I was convinced was culinary atrocity as my serving appeared in the blink of an eye. I waited for everyone else to be served before I took my first gingerly taste. Then I took another and another and another until not a crumb was left on my plate. Until this day, pumpkin pie has remained the favorite Thanksgiving dessert of this convert.

Needless to say, with no mother or grandmother to hand down a treasured family pumpkin pie recipe, I had to choose the easiest one I could find when my turn to cook Thanksgiving dinner came. Here it is – the classic Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe that’s been around since 1950.

Meet The Author

J.P. Lane is author of the international thriller, The Tangled Web. It isn’t surprising her point of view is global. From an early age, she was trekking from Jamaica (where she was born and raised) to Europe with her family. During her adult years, Lane has blazed a trail across the world, following her star and gathering the international experience that is reflected in her writing. She has lived in London, Southeast Asia, Puerto Rico, and Miami where she was an award-winning writer for The Miami Herald’s marketing team. She has been published in other leading Florida publications, including “Florida Design Magazine.” Lane now resides in north Florida where she’s currently working on her second novel.

The Tangled Web: an international web of intrigue, murder
and romance ~

Website:  Blog:  Twitter: @jpLANEauthor  Facebook:

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20 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Tales ~ My First Thanksgiving

  1. This is very amusing. I too am a “foreigner” and not used to Thanksgiving let alone pumpkin. I have adapted well and now produce an acceptable version of traditional fare. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. As my generation gets older, it is even more interesting to hear of other’s Thanksgiving experiences as the old way of doing things is becoming more and more obsolete. Nostalgic reminders of the more familial and even more elegant ways to celebrate keep those of the “boomer” generation mindful of the need to pass
    down those old style ways of doing things even if it means converting folks from other traditions to eating “gourds”. Thanks JP for passing your tale along.

  3. Now that we’ve all settled into more traditional Thanksgivings than my first, the family are fighting and disappearing come clean-up time too, Una (: Thanks for pitching into the conversation everybody!

  4. Thanksgiving for me was flying from Jamaica to Miami and shopping for Christmas and ofcourse, thanksgiving dinner at Jackies with you Joannie. Ofcourse by the time I moved here I knew what it was all about. However, my family are not turkey
    lovers and we had to find a way to include this meat, what is thanksgiving dinner
    without we injected it with jerk sauce and the rest is history.

    • No Jamaican would be worth their salt (or should that be seasoning) if they didn’t jerk turkey, Jeannie (: I love your jerk turkey.

  5. My mom passed away a few years ago, so this is especially memorable for me. We were in the kitchen getting dessert ready. My mom opened up the oven to take out the enormous pumpkin pie I had made – and it slipped from her fingers to fall face up on the open stove door. We gasped then laughed and scooped it all up and patted it back in the pie and served it anyways. No one ever knew or said a thing!

  6. Your first Thanksgiving was memorable for so many reasons, Joan. What fun. I’m getting ready to cook dinner this year and puzzling over the pumpkin pie. We will, of course, have one. But my sister recently convinced me to buy a white pumpkin. It cooked down quite differently than a yellow pumpkin. The first pie filling turned out more like a custard. Now I’m debating whether to take a chance and mess with tradition or get another pumpkin. Mess with tradition? I think not!

    • I think white pumpkin is a bit watery, no? Agree with you, Carol. Better not to mess with tradition. Thanks for being here. lol,

    • Thanks for visiting, Sheila. But you don’t love pumpkin pie? (: Teasing. I quite understand. Tastes for various foods is a cultivated thing – usually from early in life.

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