When I was a kid, we would go to my grandmother’s house every year for Thanksgiving. She had a really small house, and although we have a smaller family (13 people), there wasn’t a free space to be found. My cousin and I would share a tv tray in a small hallway between my grandmother’s bedroom and bathroom, and we thought it was our own private area. It was the only quiet spot in the entire house, so it was pretty great. My grandmother was under five feet tall, but she was a ball of energy. She lived alone until she passed away in her sleep at age 89. She made herr turkey in a brown paper bag inside a roaster. I have no idea why the brown paper bag didn’t catch fire, but luckily, it didn’t. I wish I’d learned some of her secret recipes, as she was an amazing cook. Grandma lived on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and she always had a fully stocked freezer and It didn’t matter when you went to visit her, she was always preparing and/or eating a full meal. For lunch, she’d have a pork chop, baked potato and a vegetable. You can imagine what she had for dinner. Her turkey is what I measure all other turkey against. My in-laws had me for Thanksgiving for many years (because it was the only way we could spend Christmas day at home….by promising all other holidays to our in-laws.) Thanksgiving at my in-laws was such a different experience. My grandmother only got one station on her television (remember she lived in the middle of nowhere and had no cable, only an antenna.) We never watched football on Thanksgiving growing up. My first Thanksgiving at Rich’s parents involved turning the television so everyone at the table could see it, and keeping the volume at a normal volume so you couldn’t hear each other talk. My mother-in-law apparently didn’t know how to make gravy, so just poured the drippings, including all of the fat, into a gravy boat. I’ll never forget seeing that and wondering what they were going to do with a bowl of fat…it was gross.
After my mother-in-law passed away, my brother-in-law and father-in-law made the turkey. There were years when the juices ran pink, and I was afraid we’d get food poisoning, so didn’t eat any turkey.
After my father-in-law passed away a few years ago, we’d go out for Thanksgiving dinner with friends who also used to spend Thanksgiving with Rich’s family. This year, because of covid, Rich and I ate our first official Thanksgiving dinner (after 38 years of marriage.) I have to say I think my grandmother is smiling down on us, as together, we made the turkey breast, and it was wonderful. We ate on our china and made a special occasion out of it.
My sister, who is terminally ill, spend all of her energy two days ago, walking me through how she made Thanksgiving dinner. It was so sweet of her and I’ll cherish that memory.
2020 has been a terrible year for all of us, but for me, this Thanksgiving was a good day. Sometimes a good turkey can make us forget for a while, all of the things that are making us sad.