Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks to the Bird

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.


screaminremo303 said...

Happy Thankgiving, Mrs L. Here's hoping someone always gives you the bird on Thanksgiving.

Let me be the first.

emmapeeldallas said...

I enjoyed reading this.  Happy Thanksgiving.


ladeeoftheworld said...

Awww, sweet entry.  Mashed potatoes can elicit some powerful memories.  Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

lanurseprn said...

This was a good entry to read.  Sorry about your old boyfriend.  Glad you had a nice holiday and have NO dishes to wash! Hope you had dessert before you left!

mosie1944 said...

... and who among us does NOT have old boyfriend memories?  Autumn Leaves, and all that.

suzypwr said...

Happy Thanksgiving~!


swibirun said...

Wow, we're on the same wavelength tonight regarding memories.  Mine focuses on the wonders of being seated at "the kids' table".

If you wanna do a turkey breast give this a try:

In a sauce pan, melt 1/3 cup butter.  Add 1/3 cup of honey, 1/3 cup white wine, and a 6 inch sprig of fresh rosemary and simmer for 1 minute (this will make your house smell so damn good, so have snacks ready or you will starve).

Remove the sprig and inject the mixture into the turkey breast (if you have an injector, otherwise, just baste it).  

Put the spring across the breast (the turkey's....not yours, people will stare) and roast according to the directions on the package.

On that note, I'm hungry and going downstairs to eat some turkey.

gaboatman said...

I enjoyed this entry very much and hope the meal your host served was wonderful.  This holiday always invokes memories of years past for me, too.  I enjoyed taking this trip down memory lane with you.  Now, it's Black Firday today, so get out there and shop 'til you drop!

alphawoman1 said...

This was one great entry. I was going to write something similiar but now after reading yours, I'm going to just enjoy your memories. Tell me, isn't it against the law to have a boyfriend when you are a toddler?? Ha ha! (certainly you were a toddler 45 years ago!)

salemslot9 said...

and tears
Mrs. L