Today it's going to be so warm here at the end of November, unlike the entire month of October, which was unseasonably chilly, that I could cook a turkey on the outdoor grill. Except I don't have to cook today. Actually, since I don't have to feed people every day any more, the thought of cooking is actually kind of fun. But I'm a guest now. My job is to bring an appetite. And a couple of bottles of wine.
Not having to cook also means I won't have leftovers, either,
which is the main reason for Thanksgiving if you ask me. Perhaps I
should cook a turkey breast for myself at least, so I can look in the
fridge over the next four days and be thrilled by the opportunities to
gnosh on post holiday food. Hot turkey sandwiches. Cold turkey
sandwiches. A cereal bowl full of dressing slathered in gravy. Standing
with the door open, slicing a piece off the bird on my way to watch tv.
I am reminded that I haven't been home for this holiday the past few
years. Three years ago, I watched my brother's brother-in-law deep fry
an eighteen pound bird in North Carolina on the Outer Banks. The fact
that it only took an hour to produce such a moist and tasty turkey with
crispy, golden skin was a miracle to me, since rassling turkeys has
always been a four to five hour ritual. Basting every fifteen minutes
hour after hour part of our American tradition.
Last year we were feasting at my brother's house in D.C. He's an
excellent chef on these occasions, a hobby those of us of the female
persuasion have grown to appreciate. I remember taking a photo of my
plate which was not visible under the amount of food.
Forty-five years ago I was in North Tarrytown, New York in a house
along the Hudson River with my first boyfriend. We were visiting his
uncle's family before heading to New York, a town which fills up with
college kids this time of year. There were lots of young people for
dinner, many bi-lingual, since the family business was mining and a lot
of it was done in Peru. I understood none of the jokes. It was my first
Thanksgiving away from home which made the memory more indelible I
suppose. I even remember an especially tasty slice of cold turkey later
that night, brought to me by some handsome young Peruvian who didn't
seem to care that I had a boyfriend.
I guess that particular one comes to mind because I discovered that that
boyfriend later died in 1982 at his folks' house in California. He'd
come home to recover from a virulent strain of malaria he picked up in Africa,
while doing something clandestine for our government. I often wonder
what would have happened with us if he'd lived. Marriage. Kids. Divorce. The usual probably.
Holidays do that to you. Remind you of times past. And make you wonder
what the future might have been. In the nineties the holiday started
out with high school football games in New Jersey. I remember standing
on the sidelines shooting stills of my college roommate's nephew,
playing quarterback in one of the games that would take his team to the state
championships. We all thought he would quarterback his college team to
a championship, too, but that turned out not to be. His glory days were
left in high school. The sky was always so blue on Thanksgiving for those games. Toward the end of the day, the afternoon
sunlight framed everything in gold. Like my memories .
One Thanksgiving feast I really enjoyed didn't happen on Thanksigiving.
My grown daughters had gone away for the holiday and turkey wasn't
served. So on December 23rd that year, I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner
at their place. I've managed to forget how I got that turkey up three
flights of stairs. They invited some of their friends to help put it
away. The best part was whipping the mashed potatoes and making the
gravy, two items that no longer make an appearance on any of our daily
menus. But they always elicit nostalgia for holidays past.
If I'm thankful for anything today, it's for the good memories. And not having to wash any dishes.