I remember it like it was yesterday – the first Thanksgiving that I volunteered to help cook. My culinary skills have improved over the years, but this was a time when cooking just wasn’t my thing. My mother prepped the turkey and dropped it off at my house with detailed instructions on when and how to put it in. This was the extent that I was allowed to help. I was notorious for burning water. I still don’t know why my mother trusted me with the turkey. Perhaps since she prepped it and all I had to do was place it in the oven nothing could possibly go wrong.
Once the turkey was placed in the oven, my daughter and I went about our morning watching the parade as we always did. When all of a sudden..
What’s that smell?
Is that smoke?
Before I knew it the house began to fill with smoke and all the fire alarms were blaring in our ears.
I sprang into action and got my daughter and dog out of the house.
All I remember amongst the chaos was my daughter yelling “Momma! Save the turkey!”
I can look back on this and laugh now. I remember, though, the feeling of pure panic. If I ruined the turkey, I feared I would single handedly have ruined Thanksgiving. Thankfully, I only used a too shallow pan to put the turkey in and grease had dripped onto the oven. A rookie mistake. When the smoke cleared, the turkey was indeed saved and put into a bigger pan.
Thanksgiving was saved that year and we had a nice laugh around the table talking about my culinary mishap.
It makes me think about how much we juggle on Thanksgiving. Getting up early to put the turkey in to feed a crowd – who has decided to forgo any food until the meal is ready (talk about pressure!) and dreading the stuffing that your great Aunt Susie is going to bring that no one likes, but everyone eats and raves about how good it is.
She proudly sits at the table rattling off her recipe as everyone secretly shovels the food to the family dog who does, indeed, love Aunt Susie’s stuffing.
Thanksgiving isn’t really about the food (okay – maybe a little bit) or the endless amounts of dishes and hours on your aching feet you spend to prepare a meal and ensure it comes out hot and on time. It’s about the family. The laughter around the too small table that precariously sits people all crammed together. The rubbing elbows, passing of food, and the thousand conversations that all seem to overlap each other. It’s about the unbuttoned pants and football games, as you wait for the coveted turkey sandwich from leftovers. Thanksgiving is about family, the ones that are here and those that have passed on, blessing our lives, and making sure that through even the most chaotic of events, that the turkey is saved.
So, as you strategically plan your Thanksgiving holiday, worry how it all will get done, and already feel your back and feet beginning to ache, remember that you’re not just creating a wonderful meal, you’re creating memories. And at the end of the day, no matter what happens, always save the turkey!