birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


Our first Thanksgiving in Miami, after my parent's divorce and a move from New Jersey, mom shook things up a bit. No more traditional Thanksgiving dinners for us. I imagine she also wanted us kids to have some different experiences in our new home. She got a bunch (to my mind) of lobsters (the little Florida kind) and probably shrimp, procured from one of the trucks along side US 1 that sold fresh shrimp back in the day. This was the food most likely eaten by new-comers to Florida back in Pilgrim time...I believe this is the story she concocted. I remember the lobster being cooked on the round kettle grill out on the back porch. I don't recall any of the "side" items, just the lobster.

A subsequent Thanksgiving brought a little pig to our backyard for butcher lessons and lessons on eating the whole animal. Mom and her friend Z, were there in the yard at the clothes line boiling water to make it easy to get the bristly hairs off of its body, shaving it, I suppose. The slit made down the length of its belly and innards being carefully removed. Once it was all prepared, into the oven it went...well, not quite. The oven was too small, or was the pig too big? Back to the black, round kettle grill it went. Probably should have dug a pit, Hawaiian luau-style!

Yet another year, my younger brother Joe & I were dispatched to pick up what would be our main Thanksgiving dinner entree. We were headed out to the Redlands, to see one of Uncle Gary's many eclectic friends, the Quail Lady. As we drove along the fields that produced a lot of produce, palm trees, and other tropical delights and debating which Palm-named street we were to turn down, Silver Palm, or was it Coconut Palm? a rain shower pelted our orange VW bug. We couldn't see a thing, typical Florida 3pm rainshower, and then to make things worse, the wiper blade fell off the drivers side windscreen! Well, if you've lived in Florida long enough, you know you just have to wait 5 minutes and it will be clear again. So we carried on to our appointed quail pickup destination, got our quarry and decided that if you're out in the Redlands on Coconut Palm (the edible palm) you might as well stop at the Amish bakery and pickup some tasty treats to make the trip complete.

Florida Thanksgivings were quite the adventure in my family. Learning that holidays are what you make them was a good lesson and many good memories were made along the way.


Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos