Monday, November 19, 2007

Turkey Trials

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.

4 comments:

  1. My entire extended family is coming to my house. It will be a loud and crazy time. We stuff ourselves silly, then go back for pie. Afterward we always play games like "Apples to Apples" or "Sequence". We have such a good time and build such nice bonds. Thanks for reminding me again why I love Thanksgiving. I loved your comments about "new" family members. Sadly we've not added any new ones since the last one. But hopefully this year will see a couple of weddings and maybe a baby or two.

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  2. And those things that do go "wrong" seem to make the best remembered and funny stories later that we pass on to the next generation. I hear myself frequently telling my adult children when they experience disasters..."but just think what a great story it is going to make to tell your children!"

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  3. I felt as if I were actually with you at your Thanksgiving experiences. Isn't it strange that we remember with clarity the things that go wrong, but keep only hazy, warm feelings about the smooth-going times. Well, sometimes, anyway.

    I thought I had commented on this blog before, but I suppose I was too busy thinking of what your writing inspired me to blog about. Thanksgibing really is a family treat. Twice, my husband has been overseas for Thanksgiving, but even distance can keep people together. It must be easier with cell phones and e-mails, but nothing takes the place of actual hugging-arms around you.

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  4. I took your advice, Rene, and ate too much, settled in, wrapped arms, and added playing Scrabble to the list.

    Loved your post.

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