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In our family, Thanksgiving is a ritual that has never changed.  We turn on the TV first thing in the morning to watch the parade and it stays on all day through both football games.  The table is beautiful.  The menu is a collection of my mom’s delicious recipes.  This was the ritual when I was growing up and it has remained that way for my kids.  The only thing that varies is the number of people sitting around the table.

When we were kids, my dad would call us to dinner with a loud whistle.  He didn’t need an actual whistle.  He put his thumb and pointer finger between his lips.  The sound could be heard for miles.  If we didn’t hear it, some other kid did.  “Hey, your dad is calling you for dinner.”  But he never had to whistle on Thanksgiving, because we were already home.  My dad was usually in a pretty good mood.  He’d call us to dinner by shouting our nicknames, “T-Bird, Turkey Tracks, Foo Magoo.  Time for dinner!”  We’d all come running.

His nicknames were ridiculous and didn’t seem to have any link to our actual names or personalities.  He just came up with a weird name to call each kid and once he chose it, it stuck.  His creativity waned over the years.  By the time my youngest sister, Meg, was born, the best Dad could come up with was, “Meg the Peg.”

I swore I would never give my kids stupid nicknames.  But once they were born, the nicknames soon followed.  Baby Alyssa loved to chew on teething beads.  So naturally, we started calling her, “Beady.”  That later became “Sweety Beady.”  Which somehow morphed into, “Sweety Petey.”  Which, lazily, became just-plain-old, “Pete.”  I still, sometimes, call my adult daughter, “Pete.”  My dad called her, “Big Al the Bully,” because in daycare, at 18 months old, she decked a kid who was notorious for biting helpless toddlers.  He should have called her “Big Al the Hero.”

When Jack was a baby, he wore a lot of outfits from Old Navy.  Plaid pants and baseball caps that made him look like a character who, in my mind, would be named, “Buddy Wudderton.”  That later became, “Bud Wud.”  And finally, “Bud.”

If I could ask my dad about the crazy nicknames, he probably had a reason for inventing each one.  He’s no longer here to share Thanksgiving with us, but the goofball character who gave us stupid nicknames, danced a Lucky Charms jig, and finger whistled to call us to dinner, is always at our Thanksgiving table in our memories and stories.


I created the turkey tube napkin holder for Thanksgiving because I am the one he called Turkey Tracks.  And it now seems like an honor to have been given a ridiculous nickname.  You can print the craft page on several different colors of paper and have your students cut the turkey parts from different sheets of paper. Or you can print it on white and have them color the parts. It makes a cute Thanksgiving napkin holder. Click “TURKEY TUBE to get the template and instructions for this craftivity.