The Story of the Isolation Thanksgiving.

My mother, Betty, was my sole guest for Thanksgiving dinner last Sunday.  This is the story of how that dinner went. It begins with a black and brown dog.

“Black and brown dogs are the best because they don’t look anemic!” This statement was proclaimed by Betty after drinking one half of a 1/8th bottle of champagne. 

I’m gonna say the bottle, that I’ve had in my refrigerator since last Christmas, was about 4″ high.  We split it. This resulted in Betty shouting across my living room for me to STOP CHUGGING IT. Chugging? It was an inch of champagne in a glass. It would have been just as ridiculous if she’d told me to stop chugging my saliva.

Betty was harkening back to the day before when she saw a neighbour walking their black and brown dog down the street. She saw it, she liked it, and just like that they’ve been cemented as the best looking dogs in the world. We didn’t get into whether the actual breed of the dog had anything to do with it because just after the declaration she asked when dinner would be ready.

I normally  have anywhere from 10-14 people for Thanksgiving dinner depending on who happens to be dating or married at the moment. I’ve had years when the table is so full that I had to quietly eat by myself on the kitchen floor. Only not quietly, more like screaming from the kitchen “Do you all realize I’m in here alone eating on the kitchen floor like a dog or a wombat???!!!

Wombat’s don’t eat on kitchen floors, but normally neither do I which make us the same. 

This year it was myself and Betty. And that’s it. Because of the Ick in the air you understand.  That’s also why I placed us across from each other at my 7′ dining room table. And yes I did set the table nicely and made all the necessary and unnecessary foods. The cardboard box of Kleenex next to the flow blue is something the Vanderbilts popularized. 

Overcooked turkey (just to be safe according to Betty), stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, turnip (Betty made the turnip – she always does), and even sweet potato casserole which I have NEVER made before. It’s a disgusting concoction of sweet potatoes, brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans all topped with mini marshmallows. Don’t even try it, you’d hate it.


The rest of my family gathered in smaller groups as well.  One of their events involved a dog, a skunk and screaming kids. So Betty forcing me to cook the turkey until it resembled something I pulled out of a dehydrator was the better situation to be in I think. 

We also started with salad which we never do when there’s a big group of us.

I made a beet salad with greens from my garden, goat cheese, pickled beets and raw sliced beets. You can get the whole beet salad with goat cheese recipe here. 

After all the food neither one of us could even fathom eating any of the pumpkin pie for dessert. Wiping sweat from our brows and cautiously burping, we threw our napkins down and declared NO. No more foo …”

Before she could finish the sentence, Betty must have made some sort of internal calculation based on her stomach size, ability to suppress vomiting and desire for pumpkin pie. Because instead of ending with “no more food”, her sentence ended with “no more foo … give me a little piece. No not that little. That’s barely even a piece of pie! Cut another one that size and give me both. Where’s the whipped cream. That’s not enough. Don’t be ridiculous, give me can, I’ll spray it on myself if you’re going to insist on being so cheap with the whipped cream. Do you have ice cream?”

And yes. I said a can of whipped cream. This DAMNED PANDEMIC CREATED A WHIPPING CREAM VOID IN THE GROCERY STORES. I was forced to buy spray whipped cream. omgitwassogood.

After dinner we retired to the living room. I can’t remember what we talked about on account of the fact that my hearing was blocked due to food being stored in my ear canal until it I made room in my stomach.

By 6:30 she was heading out the door and on her way home to play Candy Crush and I was staring at as big a mess as if I’d had 14 people over.

At least I got to sit at the table this time.

It was a very different Thanksgiving. But it’s the ones that are different that we remember. The times we sat on the kitchen floor to eat,  when the kids kept hopping out the open dining room window or the year the dog got sprayed by a skunk.

And more than anything, Thanksgiving is about memories. For reminiscing, for talking, for remembering all the things (good and bad) that we have in common and being thankful for them.

And the pie. It’s also about who has room for pie.

What I did this week.

Have a good remainder of your weekend!



  1. Lynette K. says:


    Thank you for posting about your small pandemic Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is fast approaching in the U.S. and I’m struggling to stay firm with my family about not attending a meal indoors with multiple households. Every time a family member acts irritated with my boundaries, I think of your post and tell myself, “Karen kept it small. You can do it too. Stay strong.” Keep up the good work.

    • Karen says:

      Good for you! People don’t think it matters. That, well … they don’t have COVID so … But it does matter. Just look at the difference in numbers between Canada and the US. My city is close to going into lockdown again and we’re only at 1400 cases a day for the whole province. Be strong! ~ karen

  2. Caroline says:

    I loved this post so much I read it out to my husband. After a somewhat trying day, it made us both smile. Thank you!

  3. Laura Lee says:

    Question – what do you do in Canada with your Halloween decorations if your Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks before that? I thought you had your Halloween stuff up back in September? (Do you take it down for a couple days and then put it right back up to keep the spirit going? :-)

    • Karen says:

      I don’t have the Halloween stuff up in September. :) Pictures on the blog would be from the previous years. When Thanksgiving is over that’s when the Halloween decorations go up. Some years I have a few Halloween ones out at Thanksgiving, but not this year. ~ karen!

      • Laura Lee says:

        Hahahaa… thanks for the clarification. Personally, I have my Halloween decorations up all year round – and the fact that I am a “self proclaimed witch” gives me free license to do that. ;- )

  4. Idaho Girl says:

    The sweet potato casserole is one of my favorite parts of any Thanksgiving meal, so I always volunteer to bring it. In my opinion, anything with toasted pecans in it is a winner, and for the record, I don’t put marshmallows on mine – it’s definitely sweet enough without them.

  5. Lynn says:

    Beautiful thanksgiving Karen, an you are right it’s all about the memories.
    Say hi to Betty for me and wishing you both a good and safe season.

  6. Debbie says:

    Another delightful post from you. Thank you and belated Happy Thanksgiving. And I salute your honestly about admitting that some gauche food items are really delicious!!XO

  7. Scout says:

    Yep. And the black and brown dogs with the burnt orange eyebrows are the super hero, Delta Force, super model lookin’ ones. I always feel under dressed around them. And like I should, maybe, take up Krav Maga or Karate to feel more capable. Betty has great insight. Dinner, champagne, whipped cream and pie. No dishes to do. We must learn from her. And, can she have a play date with my Mom? They’ll get along great…………… They’ll need more champagne.

  8. Kippy says:

    This will probably be a very treasured memory for you and Betty. She always is so entertaining!
    Don’t know what I will make for our Thanksgiving dinner. We both dislike turkey as well as that sweet potato casserole. Maybe order Chinese food.

  9. Carole says:

    Hi Karen,
    I am new here and especially share your love of gardening… we haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving yet but it promises to be my husband and myself… normally our large family chooses Mexican or traditional for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas… Mexican being the favorite most often… from scratch for both… I was raised with both cuisines and my father incorporated many others into our daily fare…
    I enjoy your site as we are quite different yet similar… you bring to mind amazing things that are in the realm of the possible to try…. Thank You for that!
    If you haven’t grown ‘San Marzano Redorta’ tomatoes you must try next year… they are a paste tomato and look like a huge Christmas ornament and their sweetness rivals that of the sweetest tomatoes… they are quite large unlike the regular San Marzanos and bear no resemblance…
    looking forward to see how your Christmas comes along….

  10. Lyn says:

    Thanks so much for the dose of much-needed humor. Your writing is very fun!

    And I would like to second your mom’s idea that black and brown dogs are without question the
    best-looking dogs on the planet. Best overall, in my opinion, especially the Dobermans.

    I may be just the slightest bit prejudiced on that subject.

    Sincerely, though, thank you for sharing your world view in such an entertaining way. You are great company to muddle through with. Keep on keeping on!

  11. Danielle says:

    We had to buy canned whipped cream too! I looked EVERYWHERE for the real thing to no avail.

  12. Vikki says:

    My relatives always made that sweet potato/marshmallow dish. Every year, they added more sugar, more marshmallows. (Nothing says Thanksgiving like marshmallows?) Lately it tastes like sweet potato fudge. After the meal, even the grown-ups were on a sugar high and hopping out the windows with the kids! I think you had a lovely Thanksgiving and gold stars for keeping the tradition, in spite of all the restrictions. The British side of me says—“Still, it could be worse.” At least the empty chairs aren’t because of loved ones away fighting in a war.
    …..and now, for a different Christmas. (sigh)

  13. Farmgirl says:

    Wow, never mind the turkey dinner, I was awed by your flow blue dishes and the silver server. I love both and you have it all. Stunning!

  14. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I’m glad you mentioned the Kleenex box cuz I thought Betty had a blob of mashed potatoes in her hand ready to defend herself in the imminent food fight about to do down 🤣 I wonder at what age I’ll have the constant Kleenex in my hand?

  15. Librarian Nancy says:

    Loved your Thanksgiving dinner story and the food sounded delicious. I may be alone too this year. Our Thanksgivings tend to be memorable (the year my nephew got drunk and passed out in the living room before dinner; the year my sister-in-law’s oven died in the middle of cooking the turkey and she didn’t notice until we were about to sit down; the year the dog bit one of the kids; the year my sister-in-law decided we needed to go around the table and say what we were thankful for and HER sister had a meltdown and started screaming about how she almost died this year and none of us cared – I could go on and on, meltdowns and drunkenness being a common thread).

  16. KathC says:

    We made a pumpkin pie and had leftover filling, and I was going to make butter tarts, so we stirred the leftover pumpkin filling into the butter tart filling (with pecans) and made another pie. It was awesome. But the store here only had “lite” canned whipped cream.

  17. Grammy says:

    What a beautiful feast you and Betty shared. I’m certain she went to sleep happy after being treated to such a lovely day. You’re young, you can sleep when the dishes are done and the kitchen clean — and be happy that you were able to give your mom a good holiday despite not having all the merry throng you are used to.

    Having everyone in the family healthy is enough to be grateful for this year. The drunken debauchery can begin again when things get back to normal. There has to be some normal in our near future. I voted last week, and I’m going to hold onto the prospect of a great year to come.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Grammy. I’m already wondering what’ll become of Halloween and Christmas. And congratulations on voting. From what I see on the news there has been QUITE an early voter turnout. ~ karen!

  18. Deb says:

    Hi Karen

    Glad you were able to spend Thanksgiving with your Mom. We lost both of our Mom’s 2 years ago. On a lighter note, our Thanksgiving dinner was special this year. Our daughter was our only guest, instead of 14, only 3 of us. Decided to cook a homegrown 10lb chicken because the homegrown turkeys were 30lbs, a little TOOOOOO much leftovers there. Everything was going fine when I went to visit the hubby in the wood pile for a hour, came into the house and could smell something burning, ends up my oven quit working properly, only the broiler element working. Had to finish the bird and the homemade rolls on the barbecue. Thank goodness it wasn’t one the turkeys, wouldn’t have fit. Maybe I need your pizza oven for that. Then we ended up FaceTiming with family right when I should have been finishing off the dinner, FaceTimed TOOOO long, no leftover potatoes here either, ended up like potato soup, spent too long on the stove. Well the pie, it was ok, but not as good as usual, oven must have started screwing up when I was cooking that too. It. will almost rival the year I miss calculated the turkey cooking time and cremated it instead.
    On a brighter note gardens are all cleaned up except the turnips, beets and carrots and am looking forward to my seed catalogs coming in.
    Have a great week and maybe I can get back to sleep.


    I’ve wondered what it will be like this year. We usually go to the beach and bring all manner of food to share with about 20 other people. Wonder if we can do it distanced enough. Nope, not with the table situation.
    Since our son returned from China, maybe I’ll suggest that he and his bride make a mini dinner. We’re in the same bubble….so it might be a good reversal of roles. His wife had her first American Thanksgiving, well, her first Thanksgiving at all! With me doing all the cooking last year, so……..hmmmmm.
    I won’t suggest he spatchcock the turkey – I wasn’t impressed!
    I have not set a beautiful table since… we were in a plane on Christmas Day and ate takeout on the upper east side for dinner.

  20. You are my hero. I love you!!!!

  21. Darcy says:

    So glad your small group included the fabulous Betty! And you’re right, the only turkey I remember after nearly 40 Thanksgivings is the one that created a grease fire.

  22. s says:

    Hi Karen
    I read a lot but your description of thanksgiving with your mom during CIVID was one of the sweetest things I have ever read. Funny but poignant. You are special.

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