by Rene Allen
After reading Marsha’s blog, I realize there is a new anxiety to add to my growing list of dreads - you know the ones - nightmares about missing a class all semester and discovering it one week before finals; or being invited to a high stakes dinner and tripping over the rug and landing on your can in front of 500 well-heeled and coifed guests; and now, promising turkey for Thanksgiving dinner and its cast of a thousand relatives and ending up with a cold bird and raw dressing.
I’m cooking a turkey this year. It’s in the fridge now, thawing. I don’t know how turkey does in a microwave, but short of a power failure, it will be my alternate strategy. I’ll cut it up with a chain saw and push Start if my real oven, lovingly cleaned this past weekend, fails.
My parents and brother are coming from Mesa. Three of my sons, two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren will be here along with my husband who stops eating the night before Thanksgiving dinner to make room for a massive amount of mashed potatoes and dressing. He always goes last in line so he doesn’t have to feel guilty about taking so much. This, I believe, is a hang-over from ward dinners when he was bishop. My youngest son and his new wife are having a quiet Thanksgiving in Rexburg, Idaho. I think it’s just as well. Thanksgiving dinners can be hard on new wives.
My first Thanksgiving married was with my husband’s family. They are good people, but have their own way of doing things. I was assigned sweet potatoes. Well, I’m for trying new things but being newly married hadn’t yet figured out new is not for a traditional meal like Thanksgiving dinner. I put pineapple and apples in my sweet potatoes, using a recipe from an aunt on my side of the family. No marshmallows. No syrup. Big Mistake. One person, probably my husband, took one small spoonful and I took home two pans of sweet potatoes.
So this is another anxiety, that of meshing with the in-laws. One of my daughters-in-law, on her first Thanksgiving with my extended family, volunteered to make pies. She made eight, all different types and was so exhausted she fell asleep at the dinner table. When it was time to leave, my son whispered in her ear “Kelly, you need to wake up. If you don’t wake up you’ll have to make another pie.” She sleep-walked to the car, having impressed us all.
It’s amazing, with all the things that can go wrong at Thanksgiving, like a glitchy oven and uncooked turkey, that so many things go right. It is a time to settle in, eat too much, wrap arms around those you love most and celebrate our country, our freedom, our right to worship, our family, our lives. There is no right or wrong way to be thankful. There is no one to impress.