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Talkin' turkey: Roanoke kids explain the Thanksgiving holiday

Talkin' turkey: Roanoke kids explain the Thanksgiving holiday

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On top of all the other stressors of this year, we adults are now trying to navigate celebrating Thanksgiving safely during the middle of a pandemic.

Do we do a Zoom dinner with the West Virginia cousins? Break bread with the other family in our bubble on a picnic table in the backyard? Order a pizza and call it a day?

Kids, luckily, aren’t sweating the details. Mostly, they’re looking forward to that first bite of a glorious gobbler.

To help us grown-ups lower our collective blood pressure, a reporter recently visited students at Monterey Elementary School in Roanoke to gather their youthful impressions of the holiday. Some talked a lot. Some talked a little. Some provided culinary tips.

Grayson Bradney, age 6

What is Thanksgiving?

You get to eat.

What’s your favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving?


What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Playing tic-tac-toe with my dad.

Dylan Guilliams, age 6

Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving?

To show kindness.

What’s your favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving?


How do the grown-ups at your house fix the turkey?

They put in special ingredients.

What are those special ingredients?

Salt. Pepper. Chicken.

Do they pour those things on top of the turkey?

They pour it inside.

How long do they cook the turkey?

For like a minute.

What temperature do they cook it on?


Do you like stuffing?


What do you think stuffing is made of? Like, what is it?


But there has to be something else in it, right? It’s not just a big plate of salt?

Pepper. Chicken.

You mix all that stuff together?

I think so.

Do you cook it?

I think you have to cook it or you just eat it. I would go with cooking it.

How long should you cook it?

Probably like an hour.

What temperature would be good for stuffing?


Do you help out at home with meal prep?

I usually do the desserts.

What do you do to them?

I add the chocolate chips.

What kind of desserts do you like on Thanksgiving?


What kind?

Chocolate chip.

What does your family like to do on Thanksgiving?


Do you get a full tummy?

I eat a lot. I can eat a whole turkey. I can eat 16 cookies.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Kindness. My dog Luna. She’s grumpy, but she’s nice.

Karson Walker, age 5

Who will you be with on Thanksgiving?

My cousins.

How many cousins do you have?

I got lots.

Will you have dinner together?


What kind of dessert do you like on Thanksgiving?

Sugar. Don’t tell my dad, but I like all kinds of sugar.

Can you think of anything you’re especially thankful for this Thanksgiving?

My favorite thing is Transformers.

Is there a Transformer you like the most?

Optimus Prime.

Ava Mullins, age 6

What is Thanksgiving?

It’s where you give stuff to people and we have turkeys.

Do you like Thanksgiving?

Yeah, because I get to eat turkeys. I read a book about turkeys and it was funny.

What happened in the book?

They were having Thanksgiving, but two of the animals didn’t get to have Thanksgiving and then all of the animals were waiting to have it at their house. They were bears and the mom wanted to get a turkey, but they had to have a paper turkey because they never had a turkey. But then the dad, he went and bought the turkey. And all the mama did was let him sit down. They didn’t eat him.

What’s your favorite thing to eat at Thanksgiving?

Turkey. [Pause]. I haven’t even tasted turkey.

So you don’t know if you like it?

Uh-uh. I just like it.

If you were in charge of cooking the Thanksgiving turkey, what would you do first?

Catch it.

Seems like an important first step. Then what would happen?

You eat it.

Do you think you should take the feathers off?


Should you cook it?


How long should you cook it?

Until it’s good.

How do you know when it going to be good?

When it’s burnt.

What about mashed potatoes and gravy. How many potatoes do you need for Thanksgiving dinner?

I think you need 100.

What do you do to them to get them mashed up?

You peel the thing off and then you smash them.

What do you smash them with?

I will smash them with a knife. I just smash them with anything.

What do you have for dessert for Thanksgiving?

The turkey.

You have it again? Do you have turkey a different way or do you eat it the same?

You just eat more and more.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?


Aubree Hankins, age 7

What do you like to eat on Thanksgiving?

Turkey my grandma makes.

How does she make the turkey?

I don’t know.

If all the grownups went on strike and you had to make the turkey, how would you make it?

I don’t know.

Have you eaten stuffing?


Do you like stuffing?


What don’t you like about it?

It tastes weird.

What does it taste like?

I don’t remember.

What are some other sides you like at Thanksgiving?

My grandma cooks green beans and corn.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I have a brother I love. He’s 4.

Caleb Blackwell, age 7

If all the grownups went on strike and you had to make the turkey, how would you make it?

I’d probably make a fire because my grandma has a fireplace and we can light the firewood that’s inside of it.

Would the turkey scream in the fire?

No. Dead.

Would you take the feathers off?


How long would you cook it in the fire?

Probably for ten to nine minutes.

How would you know when it’s ready?

I would look at it in the fire and see if it’s burning and then take it off.

That makes sense. Do you like mashed potatoes?

I don’t really eat potatoes, but my grandma does make cookies at Thanksgiving. They taste really good.

What kind of cookies?

I forgot, but she does make something like carrot cake. There are three dogs there. One is mine. Two are my uncles. My uncle has one puppy. My puppy and the other puppy fight a lot.

You’ll be well entertained. Can we talk about stuffing?

I don’t really eat it.

Your plan on Thanksgiving is to eat turkey and carrot cake?

I eat a lot of stuff on Thanksgiving to the point I don’t want to sleep.

What do you eat?

Turkey. I eat lots of turkeys. Drink lots of milk and lots of water. My brother will probably eat everything.

What’s his favorite food?

He eats everything. Turkey. Like all the candy. All the sweets.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I’m probably thankful for my two dogs. So my dog is Zelda and my uncle’s dog is Royce. Those are the two puppies. My other uncle’s dog is named Bentley.

What would be Zelda’s favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving?

Dog treats and turkey.

You know a lot about animals.

I usually watch “Wild Kratts” and National Geographic.

Here’s a question: What’s a wattle?

It’s the bottom part. The part under the turkey’s mouth.

What does it do?

It makes the turkey sound.

What else do you know about turkeys?

They can’t fly that good. They rarely fly. They usually walk. It probably takes too much energy. Pigeons: They can fly, but it takes too much energy.

Can you do a turkey impression?

Gobble-Gobble. Gobble-Gobble.

Morgan Johnson-Strother, principal of Monterey Elementary School, also talked turkey:

What do you like about Thanksgiving?

My favorite thing is to be around family and to eat all the vegetables.

Are you saying that because you’re the principal and you feel like you have to set a good example?

No I would love a vegetable plate. I could go without the turkey.

What vegetables do you like?

Mashed potatoes and gravy. I guess those aren’t vegetables, are they? OK. let’s start with the carbs: macaroni and cheese, rolls and butter. I like deviled eggs. I like green beans. I like squash casserole. I’m not a huge stuffing fan either. I would much rather have ham biscuits than turkey.

Are you the one who cooks at your house?

No, I go to my mom’s. There was a meme recently that was like, ‘How do you cook your turkey? Go to your mom’s house.’ That’s me. That’s OK. I’m not ashamed of it.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Dawn Wells, the “Gilligan’s Island” star who died this week as the result of COVID-19, appeared in “Chapter Two” at the Sioux City Municipal Auditorium in 1979. She appeared at the Okoboji Summer Theatre, too (she attended Stephens College), and returned years later for a summer stint.

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