Do you remember your first Thanksgiving…?

November 17, 2014 at 9:34 pm 37 comments

*repost…happy_thanksgiving_turkey_wooden_ornament_signlink to tips at the end


I do.  I was 8 and was living in my first foster home, after the emergency home. I had no idea what Thanksgiving was.  I only lived with my bio-parents for 7 years, so I guess that was not enough time for them to figure out Thanksgiving.  I don’t even know if they knew what Thanksgiving was, like Christmas, birthdays, and all other forms of celebrations or holidays.  And in school, when I went, we drew turkeys and talked about piligrims and indians, but it did not make sense to me.  I don’t remember seeing a turkey until I went into foster care … and I don’t really remember feeling thankful for anything …except for when my bio-father wasn’t drunk or when my bio-mother was actually home and not somewhere on the streets or for when my bio-brother and I could find pizza in the trash behind the pizza place to eat because we were starving. But I don’t know if that was being thankful or just survival.  So NO concept of Thanksgiving until I was 8.

My foster parents loved Thanksgiving.  They even decorated the house with Thanksgiving things like a kitchen turkey towels and indian corn and candy corn .. …. I kind of didn’t get it.  They told me it was a day to be thankful and celebrate blessings and tothanksgiving---give-thanks be with the ones you love and care about.  So, I REALLY didn’t get it.  I did not know what I was thankful for and I did not feel that anyone loved or cared about me.

As the official day got closer, I actually got nervous.  I remember crying because I did not know what I was supposed to do or how I was supposed to act on a day that seemed so important to everyone, but me.

.Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?

On the day, I remember Sara (foster mom) explaining how “their family” did things, so I would not be too confused.  Each person helped to bring things to the table and Bill (foster dad) would then bring the turkey once everyone was sitting down.  Before eating, each person at the table would say something they were thankful for this year and then we would all eat! And I could eat anything I wanted, but to eat slowly and save room for dessert. The whole thing was really overwhelming to me…… and I remember spending alot of time thinking about and practicing how I would say what I was thankful for; because I decided that I was thankful that Sara and Bill let me stay at their home.

So, I can’t remember thanksgiving-dinnerthe exact number of people there, but there were some other kids, some older people, and a couple people I had met before.  And there was TONS of food.  More food than I had ever seen in my entire life. I could not believe there was that much food in one house.  There was more food on that one day than 30 in my bio-parents house EVER.  I was besides myself with excitement but worried and sad too.


People started bringing items to 0811p134-cranberries-mthe table. Sara gave me the rolls and I managed to get them to the table perfectly.  So, I thought I would try and help with something else, and I went back to the kitchen. Some lady, without thinking I suppose, handed me a bowl of cranberries.  I had NEVER seen cranberries in my life.  As I walked into the dining room I was trying to stick my fingers to lick the side of the bowl … and before I could get to the table, CRASH, to the floor went the cranberries.

I am a foster kid andstock-vector-scared-cartoon-chicken-vector-illustration-with-simple-gradients-all-in-a-single-layer-142762855 the first thing I did was run and hide. I did not clean up, I did not apologize, I took off running.  Because in my world, at 8, you think that if you hide, just maybe they won’t find you … I ruined the whole day for all those people and I would pay.  Would it be a fist, a glass bottle, a belt, a bat, an electrical cord … or would I have to do much worse? …… I did not know them very well.  I hid in the closet under a pile of clothes (that I was supposed to hang up previously) and cried. I messed up again. I can’t do anything right. I’m bad. And now I am going to get hurt.


It seemed like forever that time passed before the closet door opened and Sara sat down, coaxing me to take the clothes off my head.  She was so gentle and her voice was soft and not angry at all.  In fact, it was almost filled with a sense of humor.  I don’t remember everything she said, but she did say “Anyone who gives an 8-year old a bowl of cranberries is the one who made the mistake!!” She assured me that everything is fine and that there is ALOT of food waiting for me.  With alot more coaxing and some smiles, she got me to climb out of the closet and back downstairs.

At the table, when it was my turn to say what I was thankful for, I said “I was thankful that Sara and Bill did not hit me because I dropped the food on the floor.”

I was 8 and that was my first Thanksgiving…







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Reform the foster care system… Christmas Tips

37 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sheila  |  November 17, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    love this post tonight. brought back memories of my adopted son. he moved in at age 8. he spilled his cup one night at dinner, i quick bustled to get a towel and he was clearly agitated/ upset – and yes, i think i remember him running off. I was awfully used to cleaning up spills (my husband is a clutz), had a whole cornball song and dance that went along with the routine – but he didnt know that. few meals later he tipped his cup over again- same routine. And a few meals later, I watched out of the corner of my eye as he watched me fixing my plate and PURPOSELY knocked his cup over again – and i went into my same routine. He joined this time and never (purposely) spilled again. Warmed my heart so at the time to make that type of a difference with a kiddo.

    thank you for bringing that memory back to me.

  • 2. dinah1007  |  November 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    I guess that I would have been thankful that there weren’t any gross cranberries on the table! Thankful for you, LT.

  • 3. Lynn  |  November 17, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Really like this post LT. I doubt anyone missed the cranberries, they always seem to be left over 🙂

  • 4. sageplant  |  November 17, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Reading your post makes me mad. Not mad at you at all. But at the messed up bio parents that wrecked so much havoc in a kids life. This is the time I could get so made that it seems like it would be great if those evil people could have the crap beat out of them.inknow it won’t fix anything, but dam, what a bunch of fuck heads.

    Now, the long journey of finding a way to not let the past become the future, and what a job that is. But this is all such a depressing string of thoughts and I feel like I shouldn’t join in and “go there” ,so I’ll leave that be for now.

    I do hope the upcoming holiday can be more tolerable. I think you have some strength enough to find a way to enjoy the day and some good food on your terms. Make it be so. Make one new tradition that “you own” one that you like and is for you.
    Well, I have rambled…good thoughts.

  • 5. Blessed Mom  |  November 17, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Your Thanksgiving tips is one of my favorites of your blogs, mostly because I think I learned the most from it, but also because I love that you have positive memories of foster care. I love that Sara let you keep the rolls you didn’t “need” because she could see you needed the security of knowing there were there for you if/when you did need them. There are so many time times that my kids (who all had food issues when I met them) have “needed” food that they couldn’t eat. I think of your rolls and realize that it isn’t being wasted at all, the food is just being “needed” in a very different way.
    I’m pleased that you’re posting again. You have a lot to teach us!

    I hope you have a great thanksgiving this year.

  • 6. jpirog2013  |  November 17, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you are able to enjoy the day.

  • 7. Stephanie  |  November 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Thank you for posting. You are very special and important, and you are changing things. You might not see it, but you are making people better at loving kids who need to be loved.

  • 8. Whitney  |  November 18, 2014 at 12:37 am

    LT, thanks for the tips. We will definitely be talking to our kids before the big day.

  • 9. momma2abby  |  November 18, 2014 at 1:38 am

    LT, I’m glad that your introduction to Thanksgiving was with such kind people.

    I’m glad to see you posting more again.

  • 10. Lauren  |  November 18, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Hi LT. I agree there are many things to be thankful for. When I think of Holidays during my childhood, nothing comes to mind becuase there was nothing ever there. After reading your post, I cam say that I am thankful just to be alive. Hopefully one day when I have children, I wont make the same mistakes my parents did. Happy Thanksgiving and remember… There is always something to ne thankful for ❤

  • 11. MaryB  |  November 18, 2014 at 10:59 am

    LT, I’ll split the turkey wishbone with you – maybe you’ll get your wish for a family, and I’ll get mine to have CPS return my family. If only wishes came true . . .

    Nice post. Smart foster mother, and too bad she didn’t see further into your needs, (such as for a permanent home). Or maybe she did, wanted you, but the whole foster to adopt thing is fairly new. I’m not sure how I feel about it though, because while it gives children permanent homes, it also encourages the removal of children from birth homes, sometimes unjustly. It is scary to read that 1,000 children die in foster homes every year – which says nothing about the countless others who are horribly abused.

    I’ll feel thankful when the state returns my grandchildren to their rightful home. For now I feel appreciative for positive things that have happened in the meanwhile – a ‘special needs’ granddaughter who is finally talking up a storm. What the hell is special needs, anyway? All children have needs that are special to them.

  • 12. Jodi  |  November 18, 2014 at 11:01 am

    I love your post and at the same time very sad as I know there are a lot of children who, like you, did not get to experience those family traditions. My mom didn’t either. You are a real sweetheart and I think about you often.

  • 13. Beth  |  November 18, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Great memories of your first foster home. I am glad some of your homes had foster parents that seemed to have a clue. Do you know why you were removed from their home?

  • 14. Alex  |  November 18, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you for this story! When my children came home, they had not been in a kitchen for years! They didn’t know what salt was or a stick of butter! It breaks my heart, and yet, my 7 year old LOVES hearing the stories of when he was “little” and took a bit out of a stick of butter. No wonder so many situations are overwhelming to them. So much is new (and new is scary). Your perspective is rich and I am impressed by how much you can remember your actual emotions!

  • 15. thebeautifulopportunity  |  November 18, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks, LT. The county said we might have a child on a respite basis over Thanksgiving, so the story and tips are super useful.

  • 16. butterflysblog  |  November 18, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Sweet LT – this was such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. Love, Butterfly

  • 17. ritalee8383  |  November 19, 2014 at 1:33 am

    You’ve been through so much. I’m happy that your first Thanksgiving ended with a full belly and no one hurting you. I hope you can go to your friends house this year for it.

  • 18. onemorewithus  |  November 19, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Hi LT!! I am coming in late… But I am here 🙂 Well, as a matter of fact, I do remember my first Thanksgiving, being that I am a foreigner. It was with my mom’s new husband and his folks. Weird… But I liked the food. I felt awkward all the time, with those people who today are not even in my life anymore. Ironic, isn’t it?
    I hope your thanksgiving this year is fresh and good. Even if you end up spending it by yourself, I hope you have joy with your doggies and maybe watching a beautiful and funny cartoon on tv! xoxo

  • 19. Wife Goes On  |  November 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you for sharing your memories of that day. It made me cry to know how hurt you had been up to that point. I’m sorry you couldn’t have a better experience, but am so glad you are here today. Sharing your story.

  • 20. tomorrowsmemories  |  November 20, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    I came on here to respond to your “no understanding” post that came in my email last night, but it isn’t on here anymore. I wanted to tell you that you’re right. We don’t understand. But we can empathize with you because we feel like we know you and we care about you.

    My family prays for you at night. We’re an interesting bunch. We sing songs, read the bible and pray for those who we know are hurting.

    LT, I’m sorry you’re hurting. I wish I could give you a big hug. Please know that you are very cared for by people all over the nation who read your blog.

    You are making a difference in lives whether you realize it or not. You have opened my family’s eyes to fostering older children…and now ADOPTING a teen girl. I would not have had the courage to do that without your blog. Thank you sweetie!

    Praying your day is a little less sad.

    • 21. LooneyTunes  |  November 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      thanks for your note. i took the other post down because it was getting mean comments and i get tired of that.
      i am glad you are adopting an older kid! that is cool. you are the ones making a difference.

  • 22. Raychel  |  November 21, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Aww what a great story…

  • 23. onemorewithus  |  November 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    LT, I read someone here mention that other post you took down, and you said you took it down because of some mean comments that came in… LT, I would feel horrified if I have made a comment that has hurt you. Sometimes, without knowing it, I could have said something that was insensitive… If I have ever done something like that, please, I am so sorry… I always try to be careful. Just in case, if I say something you don’t feel was nice, let me know. I can delete the comment or find a way to fix it. Your posts are always so good. Thanks LT! Gloria R.

    • 24. LooneyTunes  |  November 21, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      nope, not you. some people i did not even recognize as being “commenters”.
      i can delete comments too, but its the initial reading that is the problem.
      i used to respond with a post, but i can’t be bothered anymore.
      no worries.

  • 25. annamain  |  November 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    This is the first time I’ve come across your blog- and I loved this post. Mostly what struck out to me was the same feeling of confusion and sort of witnessing life from the outside. I was a foster kid too and I had many experiences like this. In fact, as an adult, I’m still learning and accepting that with my family I have now, I am accepted and not just looking in from the outside. I am one of them! It’s been a tough road.

  • 26. onemorewithus  |  November 26, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    LT, I think you’re gonna like this.
    Folks, here is a link to help foster kids in Ohio. I know we don’t all live there (I don’t), but here is an opportunity for us to help.
    They already do this in Texas. A foster child may choose to stay in care up to 21, so to get more stable (as opposed to 18). Now, they are trying to get this going in Ohio.

  • 27. sageplant  |  November 26, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Hi LT, saw the last post got removed . Wanted to make a connection as the holidays can be rough for so many. Well, not sure if you will join in with any people or if it’s just too tough, but I do wish for a part of this week to have a few moments of peace and even a few laughs could surface. Maybe watching animals interact or comedy or something that works for you. I still wish we could send you a card or something through a forwarded mail kind of thing so you could get a few nice notes etc from those that care. I don’t know how long I have followed your blog but I know I have mentioned this before.well , thank you for sharing enough of your thoughts to try and help others. You have been a giver in that way and shown insight for others. So, thank you, that’s what we are doing now.being thankful.peace my friend.

  • 28. sageplant  |  November 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    The weather is beautiful here for the moment. I just wanted to drop you one more note today. I’m looking forward to some pie. Working on keeping a positive outlook for today. Blessings to you !

  • 29. Heather  |  November 28, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Love this. May I share your thanksgiving story on our foster parent association page? My oldest foster son is 8 this year and this story reminds me of him when they moved in with us a couple of years ago. Today was incredible and actually seemed “normal”. Thanks for the reminder that we have made a difference.

  • 30. Eve and Ella  |  November 29, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I live in the UK but I was fostered like you. Your blog made me want to cry because it brings back so many memories of what girls like me went through. Making me strip to be beaten was my Dad’s favourite way of passing a boring day.

    There is a fostering blog at

  • 31. Raychel  |  December 1, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Hey are you alright? You haven’t posted for a few days… I was gonna respond to your ‘No one understands me post’ with well – that’s what being an individual is all about. If somebody else understand you exactly wouldn’t you feel cheated somehow? Of course no-one understands because no-one has lived AS YOU; only YOU have. Don’t you want an exclusive relationship with yourself??

    Anyway, I don’t celebrate thanksgiving so I don’t know what to say about how it went for you this year….but, I thought by now you would have written a post about it so then I could ask if you had plans for christmas or not. I do celebrate christmas (well, Yule as I think of it) although, I did give up for awhile because it was such a nightmare with my family…but that’s over now. It would be nice to have someone equally enthusiastic to celebrate it with this time. Serious.

  • 32. ritalee8383  |  December 2, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    I’ve been thinking about you LT. I always check in and hope to see a new post by you. I hope you’re ok.

  • 33. onemorewithus  |  December 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Hi LT! How are you holding up these days?

  • 34. sageplant  |  December 5, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I’m thinking of you LT sending just a little love through words. Winter can be a challenge with darker days but there is something nice about having a little more sleep maybe and where I live we get much appreciated rain. oK, that’s it..peace

  • 35. cair75  |  December 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    LT, I came across your blog recently. You have an important voice and I learn something from every entry you post. I’m a bit of an outsider. I have no experience with foster care and little with people who have been in foster care. But I care. I care about you. I care about how effed up the system was that you grew up in. I care about doing right by you.

    I hope you are ok. I’m missing your voice.

  • 36. s00147954  |  December 6, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Missing your voice LT! i hope the holidays are being kind to you, and that you’re OK.

  • 37. Sio  |  December 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    LT I want to thank you for your words, for sharing your experiences with us. I’m sorry that you feel so alone and I am so glad you found your voice. I am a social worker who works with foster children and I love the perspective you offer, you are making a difference. You matter and I just wanted you to know that and to know you have our support, your readers!!!


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