October 6, 2015

To be honest, my grandmother was not a gramma. Grammas are found in storybooks. My grandmother was found in the Masonic Temple in Detroit where she worked for the Shriners. Guys in silly hats. Margaret was a party girl – always had been. She married a scallywag at 18 years of age, produced my mother, fooled around…got caught and then divorced.

Here’s a photo of my grandmother talking to two ladies when she visited the family farm near Bradford, Ontario. Those two ladies in the pinnies could be grammas — but not mine.

A beer and a cigarette.  That was my grandmother

A beer and a cigarette. That was my grandmother.

Every so often she did try and act the gramma part. Well, once in a lifetime. She had not raised my mother. She lived in a different city having a swell time. But I guess Gramma found herself sober one day and realized she was leaving my mother, and by extension her two granddaughters, without a visible heritage.

And so my grandmother ordered a turkey platter from Hudson’s Department Store in Detroit and had it delivered to us in Canada. It took up half the dining room table. And we didn’t even eat turkey – not at Thanksgiving or Christmas. We were British-heritage goose-eaters, not American turkey eaters. OK, the platter was large enough to hold a goose so we did see it on Christmas day. And that was scary enough.

That one piece of crockery became the family joke. “If you don’t behave, I’ll leave you the turkey platter,” my mother would threaten. Unfortunately after my sister died, I knew what my inheritance was to be – the damned turkey platter. It was so big it spent all year under my parents’ bed. And it was u-g-l-y. I remember it being mainly coloured with a sickly yellow. In fact only the buildings in it were yellow. Yes, two buildings…with yellow thatched roofs. The brown, red, blue and white feathers on the turkey made it look sort of like a peacock with a tail trimmed round instead of flowing.


After my mother died, I found the platter way up high in their storage locker. Kelly, a friend with an antique store was there. She didn’t want the platter. “But it’s Thanksgiving this weekend. If it’s ever going to sell – this is the time,” I said.

Kelly relented, put the platter on her website and it sold immediately… for $45 CDN. At no time did I try to hide that it was the ugliest, worst Thanksgiving dish ever. It photographs better than it looks in real life. I was very lucky to get rid of it.


On the other hand when I went looking for the photo on Kelly’s website, I found the cute little Christmas candles my mother put on display every year. Like all the candles in our house, they never felt the heat of a match. It was sad to see those holiday icons again. But I was lucky to get rid of them too.

The story of the dreaded thanksgiving platter would not die.

e-mail trail: Barbara, Kelly & Lina.
I had sent Kelly a copy of Worst Thanksgiving Dish ever to read.

Kelly’s return e-mail to me:

    Oh my god Barb that was funny!! Now you see?? I really enjoyed buying and selling all the things from your moms place, and the family who got the platter loves it, and sent ME a picture of them using it at Xmas!! You just never know. Also a friend from Ottawa asked me to save some of those little candles for her as she loved them too!!

    I feel very good about my job today, much like people who run abandoned animal shelters must feel:)

    You had an interesting family who saved great stuff in my opinion!! They made a lot of people happy with their saved treasures, so thank YOU for letting me disperse them! Keep it coming!! Lol

Then another e-mail to me arrived from Kelly:

    Ok Barb I sent your story to Lina who bought the platter:

    (Here’s what Kelly had written to Lina)
    Lina I had to laugh, this was written by the woman whose mother owned the turkey platter. I told her how it has gone to a family that loves it much like a stray dog!! Lol
    She is a great person, a film maker and writer… Cool lady. Thought you would get a kick out of the history of your platter!!
    Take care xo Kelly

The e-mails didn’t stop.

    From: Lina to Kelly
    Subject: Re: Worst Thanksgiving Dish
    Oh my God! I love the story!! I love that plate! I’m printing it and sharing the story with guests when that plate is used!!
    Sent from Lina’s iPhone

And still the e-mails flowed. To Barb from Kelly’s iPhone:

    So just after I read your email I’m flipping thru the Dec House and Home mag and see this picture of 2 guys’ place at Xmas!! Your gramma was just ahead of her time!! Lol

place setting

One Comment

  • Jacqueline says:

    Dear Barbara,

    Many family dishes have a story. I’m glad the turkey platter had hers written in such a funny way.


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