Thursday, November 22, 2007

Look Out, Tom Turkey!

Thanksgiving morning. So much for sleeping in until the alarm went off. My bladder woke me up at 5:11 a.m. In all the confusion I must have forgotten to go to the bathroom before I tucked the whole family into bed the night before. Up and out of bed I went, the only one who noticed was the cat and he just winked a lazy eye and went back to sleep.

The power had been out all night. I lay in bed thinking of everything I had to do, primarily stuff the turkey, which didn't bother me as I've cooked turkey before, but as I mentally prepared for the task I realized in terror that there was no way I could cook the turkey without the necessary electricity to regulate the oven temperature.

What did I do? Well, I said a prayer.

"Dear Lord" I prayed, "I have to cook that turkey or there'll be no Thanksgiving dinner today, and I've got all those people coming over. What am I going to do?" I asked.

I'm not too kooky (despite popular belief), so I didn't expect to hear a voice come out of the ceiling telling me what to do. I didn't hear anything. I just lay there worrying and dozed off.

As if in answer to my prayer, twenty minutes later I heard the familiar beeps and chirps of appliances returning to life and all over the house the lights, that were on the night before, were illuminated again. I had to get out of bed once more, but did so happily to turn the hallway and bathroom lights off so's not to wake the family, oh, and the cat, who gets really grumpy if he doesn't get his beauty sleep.

As I said my thanks, I felt completely relieved because now the heat was also working, I prudently decided that since it was still before six that I should lay down and catch a few more winks. I overdid it, and somehow ended up turning off the cell phone alarm and sleeping until seven. And then I had to get up!

I didn't bother dressing, just tied on my apron over the pajamas. I had left Tom in the sink overnight to thaw and it seemed to have worked well. I clicked on the oven and pulled the onion and celery out of the fridge to start chopping them and add to the stock pot where a stick of butter lay melting. I always make my own stuffing, but whereas I used to chop stale bread into cubes by hand I have wised up and now buy unseasoned croutons from the bread store, saving me a lot of extra time and elbow grease.

In no time I had the stuffing ingredients sauteing and I prepared the turkey. First of all, let's just say that dead poultry is disgusting. I know that with all the advances we've made in food production that I shouldn't complain. Gone are the days of going to the market, selecting your bird, and bringing home a really fresh one, but there's still something gross about it anyway. And because Tom weighed 23 pounds I soon realized that handling him was going to be difficult. I could barely handle him at all. Have any of you seen the commercial where the woman has a 50 pound turkey in the sink and can't pick him up? Well that was me, and that's where my husband came in. He washed the turkey and put him in the roasting pan and we stuffed it together, chucking Tom into the oven at 8 a.m.

The rest of the morning went smoothly and as the hours ticked away... I dressed myself and the kids. Basted the turkey. Set the table and decorated it. Basted the turkey. Gathered the chairs. Checked the turkey, "Hallo, Tom!" Took out the serving dishes. Basted the turkey. Popped the other dishes into the oven. Basted the turkey. Greeted the first guests. Basted the turkey. Had a few cups of holiday cheer with the guests. We all checked the turkey. The rest of the guests arrived. I buttered the turkey. Everyone was present and crammed into the kitchen. Buttered the turkey some more. Helped prepare the dishes the guests brought. Poked the turkey with a meat thermometer as the pop-out timer was still popped in. Had some more holiday cheer. We consulted over the turkey, "Is it done yet?" Made merry and were feeling dizzy. Decided, "What the heck! hic The turkey's got to be done!" Finally.

By 3:30, we took Tom to the table. I must have done something right as everyone said just how delicious he was. The meat was cooked to perfection - not too tough nor dry. The guests were in good cheer and all the food was great. We took our time eating and, halfway through, shared what we were thankful for. The adults sat at table for a long while, relaxing and conversing. The finale, of course, was the dessert and the pies.

Despite all the preparation involved in hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, at least two days worth, the best thing about this holiday is being able to share, abundantly, the many things we have with others. Thanksgiving isn't just about the turkey, but about appreciation and gratitude, and about passing a pleasant afternoon in the company of family and friends. I know this sounds cliche, like the subject of a greeting card, but if you can look past any of the negatives, you'll find that the sentiment rings true.

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