Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thanksgiving is Still a Holiday by Debra Salonen

Thanksgiving is still a holiday

I was cleaning out a storage room the other day and ran across some long-ago writings from 1988, including a complaint that Christmas was putting the squeeze on Thanksgiving—the forgotten holiday. In my opinion, it’s only gotten worse since then, but Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.

This year, my son is hosting. I love passing the gauntlet to the next generation, and I can’t wait to try out some new recipes to go with our old favorites.

Here’s a snippet from my book BLACK HILLS NATIVE SON. It mentions a recipe I’m going to try this year:  CRANBERRIES JALEPEÑO. (But we’re still eating turkey, not venison. ;-) )

She opened the door.
“Happy Thanksgiving,” they shouted in far from perfect harmony. Between them rested a large ice chest and they each carried a grocery bag in one arm.
“We brought dinner,” Damien said, a mischievous grin on his handsome face.
Char felt so many conflicting emotions she couldn’t keep them straight. Shock, surprise, hope, love. And fear. She’d let herself believe in this possibility before.
“What’s going on?”
Eli set his bag on the cooler and removed his gloves. “I wanted to call, but I got voted down. It was three to one in favor of surprise.”
“We spent the night with Uncle Joseph and his girlfriend, Mae,” Damien explained.
“She lives near Sturgis, remember?” Eli asked. “I was headed there and wound up here.”
She remembered their first encounter all too well. She’d relived that wild, impulsive kiss about a thousand times in her mind.
“Okay. So…you were in Sturgis and suddenly decided to surprise me with a Thanksgiving dinner?” She pointed at the cooler. “If there’s a turkey in there, I hope one of you knows how to cook it.”
Damien juggled the bag in his arms. “Naw. It’s a venison roast. Already cooked. Joseph said it was bad manners for Lakota men to go visiting without bringing a gift of food—preferably meat. We got up at dawn to start the coals and do a little prayer ceremony. Wild, huh?”
“At least we didn’t have to kill and dress the deer,” Eli said. “My bow skills are a little rusty. Not to mention the fact that I don’t have a license,” he added. To Char he said, “Can we come inside. It’s cold out here.”
Char stepped back to let them in.
“Cool place,” Damien said. “I like the teepee.”
She was so overcome by emotion she had to clear her throat twice to be able to speak. “Thanks.”
“You’re not working, are you?” Eli asked. “We were going to drive around back when we noticed your lights on.”
She locked the door behind them. The aroma of roasted meat filled the air, making her mouth water. “I was on the Web cam with my Aunt Pam. She told me the strangest thing. I—”
Eli exchanged a quick look with Damien before breaking in. “Sorry to interrupt but Joe wrote out specific instructions about how to finish cooking everything. Can we talk while we take this stuff next door?”
She reached for the bag Eli carried. “Sure. Of course.” She spotted two bottles of wine wedged between several plastic containers and a loaf of bread.
“Awesome spears,” Damien exclaimed as they wound through the displays. “They could do some damage.”
Char stifled a grin. “I’ll introduce you to the artist who carves them. How’s your hand, by the way? No lingering problems with your fine motor skills?”
“I’m better than a hundred percent. In fact, I’m two hundred percent. Unfortunately, some people don’t believe that. Some people won’t let me drive until I get written clearance from a doctor. Can you believe it?”
The two men argued about law versus common sense and personal liberty the entire time it took to unpack the cooler and the bags. Char loved every minute of the quick-witted, good-natured exchange. She wondered if this was the way real families were supposed to act.
“So, Char,” Eli said, handing her the last of the cold stuff to put away while Damien slid the roast into the oven and closed the door. “We wanted to—”
“Wait. Are these cranberries?” she asked, cracking the lid on the small plastic container.
“Yes, but they’re made with chipotle peppers. Mae says the recipe is killer with venison.”
Char looked at Damien. “Interesting. Learn something new every day.”

Since I’m not a fan of chipotle, here’s my version of that recipe:

Cranberries Jalapeño

12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries (rinsed and sorted)
½ C cranberry juice
½ C sugar
1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, depending on desire heat level (I cook it whole then pull out when soft to remove seeds and chop)
sea salt to taste

Place all ingredients in saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat until the cranberries begin to burst. Remove peppers. Let rest until cool enough to cut. Remove seeds, mince. Add back into the cranberries. Stir to mix. Add desired salt to taste.

Serve warm.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

You can purchase BLACK HILLS NATIVE SON from my online bookstore: HERE and save 50% off using this coupon code: K2IR2OH4NN

Happy reading.



  1. Amy, thanks so much for sharing my thoughts on Thanksgiving! I know a lot of people start decorating early, but that's my preferred sport on Black Friday. :-)

    1. You're welcome! Thanks for being on the blog today! I agree. I love Christmas, but I make myself wait until Black Friday. That's how it was done when I was growing up.


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