When one is preparing a Thanksgiving feast, usually requiring preparation well in advance of the actual day, one is prone to enter into a meditative state, seeing as one has prepared, or helped to prepare, the same recipes every year for the past 42 years.
One is not permitted any deviation from said recipes lest there be an uprising of The Others who, not having witnessed new trends emerging on Food Network, demand that every detail of their November holiday resemble every previous holiday spanning over 50 years.
Needless to say, one can conjure the entirety of the aforementioned banquet with one’s eyes closed and mind elsewhere, leaving one to ponder the deeper and more aesthetic meaning of said holiday.
This is to say I have the attention span of a gnat.
For instance, it occurred to me that even back in the Dark Ages when I was in grammar school, we were taught the official Thanksgiving song/poem was “Over the River and Through the Woods,” in spite of the fact that the holiday is never mentioned. And, even back then, every stanza was outdated. Neither I nor my parents ever took a horse-drawn sleigh to Gramma’s. No horse would have made it over the Passaic River and lived. Still, when Heir 1 was in kindergarten the teachers insisted on teaching the song to his bewildered class. I’m sure they wondered why Gramma was wearing a cap, probably envisioning a John Deere logo.
As I enter Day 2 of Thanksgiving Day preparations, now getting slightly punchy and a little bitter, seeing as everyone else around here is going on with life as usual, it occurred to me that women really get the short end of it this time of year.
Only two things are required of Dirtman each year at Thanksgiving.
First off, he must find the turkey roaster that was passed down to me by my mother. I remind him of this earlier and earlier every year. Every year he insists he cannot find it, though he is the one who stored it away. Every year we make do with the bottom of the broiler pan.
Each July, while stacking my strawberry jam, Dirtman finds the turkey roaster and puts it away somewhere he is “sure to find it in November.” For 20 years the turkey roaster has traveled about the house, evading us every Thanksgiving. Come to think of it, my father could never find the turkey roaster for my mother either.
Dirtman is also required to lift the turkey out of the oven. The turkey weights about 235 lbs., because I’m convinced we need that much to feed everyone. But I never manage to carve all 235 pounds of that meat (see attention span comment above), so we end up spending the next few days tearing it Henry VIII-style from the carcass, which is hardly a sight for a holiday magazine spread on Thanksgiving Day leftovers.
And, while we’re on the subject, does anyone actually go to the table with the whole bird and carve it there? That’s the Norman Rockwell version, isn’t it? Did anyone ever actually do that?
When we carve the turkey it requires layers of paper towels on the counter and a haz-mat suit for the carver. I can’t imagine that mess on the damask, if I was dumb enough to use damask with the Jackson apes. . . er. . . family.
I’m nearing the end of all the preparations I can do ahead of time. All this pre-holiday frenzy is so that Thanksgiving morning I can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade without worrying about getting everything done.
Don’t tell anyone, okay? The reason I watch the whole stupid, over-lip-synced, over-commercialized, over-the-top parade is for the brief, 30-second moment at the very end when Santa Claus goes by.
I cry like a baby. I don’t know why. It’s the same every year. Same recipes, same songs, same poems, same traveling turkey roaster and the same parade.
I wouldn’t dare change a thing.