My First Turkey: I Need My Mother After All


There has been more than one occasion where something my mother has said to me received the response, “You really shouldn’t have raised such strong independant daughters.” To which her quip back to me often includes a bit of laughter and referring to me as a “smarty pants”- or something more PG13, but to the same effect.

I moved out of my mother’s house at eighteen years old for college and three years after graduation moved 650 miles from home to North Carolina. I’m sure my mother recalls my childhood from time to time wondering what she could have done to keep me from leaving her house – as in ever. I can also say with some certainty that she is somewhere right now perfecting her pitch on the benefits of adding a mother-in-law suite to my husband’s and my new home.

My mother is one of the proudest parents I’ve ever known when it comes to her kids. Yet, I genuinely do think sometimes she wishes we needed her more at this stage in our life. We embraced adulthood too quickly for her taste and I think many parents of adult children can relate.

As that grown up child, just as you think you have mastered your independence, through the strange and mysterious experience of hosting your first solo Thanksgiving, you realize it’s not true.

It’s not true at all.

When you’re a kid traditions mean a little more to your parents than they do for you and then one day that changes. Suddenly, I had my own home to play the canvas to my memories of Thanksgivings past. I asked myself the question:  how could I recreate it and did I want to?

The wake up on Thanksgiving coming from way-too-early smells in our kitchen instead of my usual alarm clock. Each sprinkle of thyme over the stuffing and my mom’s yearly eye-roll deserving joke about “never having enough.” (Get it? Not enough thyme?)  Trying to locate the same serving dishes we seem to lose every year for their one moment in the spotlight. My mom’s turkey, late to the table, but straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

My first Thanksgiving living miles away and I was excited to start our own traditions and embrace whatever holiday style I wanted; my mother had hers and this would be mine.

I was somehow up before the sun with onions chopped, seasonings covering our counters, apron on and way-too-early smells from my own kitchen. I was sprinkling thyme over the stuffing as the bottle ran out and made an eye-roll worthy joke about how it really does go too fast. (Get it? Thyme goes too fast?)  When my husband came downstairs he was set to the task to search for the turkey shaped porcelain tray that had been purchased years before on clearance at Target for such a time as this. My turkey? Much larger than anticipated, still half frozen, a gross little bag inside, and absolutely terrifyingly life-like.

My husband stared at me as panic flashed across my face with my hand stuffed inside our giant frozen bird. He dug the instructions for our poor turkey out of the trash and started to read. Next we Googled and watched multiple YouTube videos. And then…I dialed.

I made the call home to my mother. 

Within 10 minutes I not only knew how to defrost the rest of Big Bird; I learned my stuffing needed more butter to taste like my dad’s, I should cover the wings of the turkey so they didn’t burn and to always buy a second bottle of thyme because it really does go too fast. We both laughed.

Six hours later there it was – my very own Norman Rockwellesque turkey. I snapped a million photos on my phone and sent them to my mom. You would have thought I won the Nobel Peace Prize by her reaction!

The point is, even us independent, strong willed, often sassy daughters need our mothers. It may not be easily seen or spoken as often as they would like to hear, but in those moments when we’re holding a naked bird the size of a toddler over our kitchen sink for the first time while crying into the phone, trust me, they’ll know.


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